Sunday, November 18, 2018

Homesick elephant in daring escape


Elephants, they say, never forget.

And it seems one such animal at a sanctuary in New York is longing to return home to Việt Nam.

Fritha, a 44-year-old pachyderm, was taken to the United States after she was injured during a napalm attack in Viet Nam’s war against America.

She suffered serious burns and soldiers at the time decided she would have a better chance of survival in the US.

Since touching down in America, she has lived at a rescue centre in Orange County.

But it seems she has been harbouring thoughts of returning to her roots.

On Sunday night it appears she hatched a plan to make a bolt for it, possibly after hearing about the good work being carried out at Yok Don National Park which is offering the first ever ethical elephant tours where visitors can experience the animals living in the wild.

Maybe Fritha dreamt of roaming free around the beautiful countryside surrounding Yok Don and interacting with elephants she may have known from the past.

It has been more than 30 years since she left Việt Nam so she is clearly one very homesick animal.

But sadly for Fritha, her plans didn’t come to fruition and after her daring escape she was found wandering down a road in the district of Westtown.

Reports from the US say she got a little peckish after making a run for it, and stopped off at a barn on the way to tuck into some hay, possibly to keep her strength up for the long journey ahead.

She escaped after noticing the electronic fence had not been activated.

Sanctuary owner Amanda Brook told ABC News: "She has an electric fence that keeps her contained, and just human error, they forgot to flip her switch on and it makes a clicking noise and elephants are very, very smart and she knows that clicking noise wasn’t on."

After the alarm was raised, State Trooper Sgt Dave Scott was able to spot the ‘fugitive’ wandering down the street.

Clearly any camouflage Fritha was wearing didn’t help her blend in with her surroundings.

But the trooper still had work to do. Facing off with such a large escapee is certainly a tough task and without the aid of back-up, Scott needed to act fast.

"I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t gotten a hold of the owners," Scott said. "It’s not like you can call the local dog warden and have him pick up an elephant."

Thankfully Fritha decided to come quietly and in fact knowing her escape plot had failed, this time, walked peacefully with the cop back to her sanctuary.

She may have lost this particular battle but no doubt is plotting another bid for freedom very soon.

Of all the places to live, it’s fair to say Fritha could have done a lot worse. The sanctuary is based on 270 acres and is home to more than 600 animals including wolves, bears, camels and a tiger. VNS

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Elephant rescued from Vietnam War escorted home after escaping sanctuary


She made her first stop at pile of hay and enjoyed a midnight snack before meandering down the road.

To read the full article, click on the story title.

Friday, November 16, 2018

There is still hope in tackling the world’s illegal wildlife trade


As China relaxes its ban, Rachel Love Nuwer plunges into the dark world of illegal wildlife trade and finds that, against the odds, there is still hope

In 2010, while checking my email at a woefully outdated internet café in rural Vietnam, I received news from a colleague that would change my life: “Don’t tell anyone, but we just got word that Vietnam’s last Javan rhino was found dead with its horn hacked off.”

I was dumbstruck. As an aspiring ecologist conducting research in Vietnam on natural resource use, I knew that poaching affected animals ranging from otters and bears to pangolins and turtles. I had also read news stories about escalating elephant and rhino poaching in Africa. But I had no idea that the situation was so bad as to drive some species to the very brink of extinction.

Over the next months, my thoughts frequently returned to Vietnam’s last Javan rhino – who killed her and why. Most importantly, what was being done to stop other animals from succumbing to the same fate?

Multi-billion dollar industry

I began researching the illegal wildlife trade, a multi billion-dollar industry that is now one of the world’s largest contraband markets. Over 1,000 rhinos of the remaining 30,000 are killed each year, and savanna elephant populations in Africa plummeted by 30 per cent from 2007 to 2014, largely due to poaching for ivory. Millions from thousands of other species are poached each year for jewellery, traditional medicine, trophies, meat, pets and more. The trade also impacts more than just wildlife: it undermines nations by breeding corruption, crime and instability, and regularly costs rangers their lives. Yet despite its scope and severity, illegal wildlife trade is often overlooked by governments and enforcement agencies.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to do something. I thought about becoming a conservation biologist, but after completing my ecology degree I realised that my skills would be better put to use raising awareness about poaching and wildlife trafficking rather than researching it (statistical analysis is not my strong suit). I changed career tracks and became a science journalist.

I’ve since reported dozens of stories on the illegal wildlife trade for The New York Times, National Geographic, BBC Future and others. But I felt what was really missing from the conversation was an overarching explanation of illegal wildlife trade and the complex forces that drive it.

Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking is my attempt to provide this resource. My research took me to a dozen countries, from the killing fields of South Africa to the traditional medicine black markets of China. These journeys of discovery were eye-opening and almost always defied expectations.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Runaway elephant returned to upstate New York sanctuary


Elephant badly burned by Napalm throughout Vietnam Conflict is discovered operating free in upstate New York after escaping an animal sanctuary when an electrical fence was turned off

A 46-year-old elephant is dwelling after she escaped from an animal sanctuary

Troopers discovered it Sunday evening wandering round in Westtown, New York

The sanctuary admitted that they had by accident switched off the electrical fence surrounding the elephant’s enclosure

Fritha the elephant is from Vietnam and was badly burned by napalm, a chemical present in bombs, throughout the warfare

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Monday, November 05, 2018

Nghe An struggles to deal with wild elephant preservation


Farmers in the central province of Nghe An are worried about wild elephants which have
returned to nd foods at their elds over the last couple of days. A group of wild elephants
from Pu Mat National Forest come to eat sugar cane in Anh Son District, Nghe An Province
in March, 2014. Photo by NTV On November 3, a group of five elephants from Pu Mat

National Forest arrived in Bai Da Village in Anh Son District and damaged a cajeput field.
Local people have had to hang out lights to the cornfields
and around their homes to chase
the animals. To prevent wild elephants from residential areas, a five-kilometre
fence was
installed two years ago but this did not help much. “The village is big and the elephants are
still coming from other directions,” the village’s head, Nguyen Van Chau, said. “Elephants
often come at the end of the year which is also the harvest season of sugar cane and other
crops.” According to a local man, Nguyen Van Thanh, 48, the wild elephants have appeared in
his village every year for over the past 10 years and are becoming fiercer.
“Before we only
needed the gongs and lights to chase them away,” Thanh said. “But now it seems that they
are not afraid of such things anymore. They even attack us.” Explaining for the elephants
becoming fiercer,
director of the Pu Mat National Forest, Tran Xuan Cuong, said that many
areas in Anh Son District used to…

To read the full article, click on the story title.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Vietnam’s first ethical elephant tours launch


Amid growing global condemnation of elephant riding as a tourist activity, Yok Don national park in southern Vietnam has ended the practice and replaced it with the first ethical elephant experience of its kind in the country.

The formally captive group of four elephants were released from their chains earlier this month and no longer carry tourists on rides through the park. Visitors can instead observe the animals roaming freely in their natural habitat.

Previously, the Yok Don elephants, like many around the country, were chained up for extended periods of time, often without access to water. They were harnessed with heavy riding baskets, sometimes carrying tourists around the park for nine hours a day.

The largest of Vietnam’s nature reserves, Yok Don is in southern Vietnam near the Cambodian border, and is home to other wildlife, including leopards, red wolves, muntjac deer, monkeys and snakes.

The park worked on the initiative with Animals Asia, which campaigns for long-term changes in animal welfare and tourism in China and Vietnam. The official agreement between the charity and the state-run park was signed on 13 July, and runs until April 2023, with the first tours taking place earlier this month. Over the next five years, it is hoped that the new model will provide as much or even more revenue for owners as riding, and encourage mahouts and elephant tourism companies to follow suit.

“This project has entirely changed the lives of the elephants at the park and it is also provides a much better experience for the tourists. Exploitation has been replaced with respect, and if successful it’s a model we could see spread across the country,” said Dionne Slagter, Animals Asia’s animal welfare manager. “They all look so much healthier and are increasingly confident in how far they roam.”

The group of retired elephants includes three females, Bun Kham, Y’Khun and H’Non, and one bull, Thong Ngan. The elephants are also now able to form bonds with one another, and are beginning to the display the naturally complex social and emotional behaviour that herds would in the wild.

To help with the transition, UK charity Olsen Animal Trust provided funding to to cover any initial losses, allowing the park to continue employing mahouts and guides to help ensure safety.

Awareness of the negative effects of elephant riding has increased in recent years, with a growing number of tourists avoiding cruel attractions and supporting welfare centres and genuine sanctuaries instead, alongside an increasing number of tour operators refusing to sell elephant treks that include riding.

Many of the elephants used in riding and other activities, such as painting or performing tricks, will have been caught from the wild as babies, their mothers often killed. Once captured, they often undergo intensive conditioning known as “crushing the spirit”, where they are kept in tiny pens and beaten and starved, sometimes for weeks.

In Vietnam, the number of elephants in the wild is estimated to be as low as 65 to 95, which conservationists say is not viable for survival. Numbers have declined dramatically over the past few decades, from an estimated 2,000 in the 1980s. Vietnam’s elephant riding industry also made headlines in 2015, when several animals died from exhaustion. Campaigners and charities hope to continue to educate the industry around the world, and show how profitable ethical elephant experiences, with retired and rescued animals, can be instead.

Responsible Travel has said it will consider adding the new Yok Don tour to their list of ethical elephant experiences – this would be the first in Vietnam to be included.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Vietnam launches its first ethical elephant experience


Yok Don National Park is now running ethical elephant tours where tourists can come and observe the park’s four elephants from a distance as they roam freely around the forest. Animals Asia, who work for long-term change in the treatment of animals in China and Vietnam, praised the move saying “exploitation has been replaced with respect.”

The move is a huge step for the park. Until very recently, elephants were kept in chains and being used to bring tourists on rides that could last the entire day. This also prevented them from engaging in their natural behaviour, such as foraging, touching each other or drinking water when they needed to.

In order to facilitate the transition, UK charity Olsen Animal Trust has provided funding to ensure that elephant owners will not lose out on their current livelihoods, with the hope that this more ethical approach will have long-term dividends for locals, the environment and the animals.

Already, there is a positive change in the elephants’ behaviour. Dionne Slagter from Animals Asia explained that “in the wild, elephants spend up to 18 hours a day foraging and this is exactly how Yok Don’s elephants now spend the majority of their time. They all look so much healthier and are increasingly confident in how far they roam.”

As awareness grows about the negative impact of riding elephants, more ethical experiences have replaced the rides in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos but Vietnam has been lagging behind on conservation. As a consequence, their elephant population has been in steep decline and there are estimated to be less than 100 wild elephants left in the country, down from 2000 in 1990. 80 more elephants are estimated to be in captivity, most providing rides for tourists.

The park has signed on to this eco-tourism initiative until April 2023 and Animals Asia hopes that it will become profitable by that time, encouraging other elephant facilities around the country to follow their example. There are believed to be 40 captive elephants in the Dak Lak province where the park is located.

So far, early feedback from the first few tours has been encouraging and will help the park grow and evolve their offering over time.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Yok Don National Park in Vietnam bans elephant rides


Yok Don National Park was inspired by an initiative which has been running from Animals Asia and, as a result, the park’s elephants will now be able to roam free, untethered and unchained.

In the past, the park’s elephants were forced to give rides to visitors all day long. According to One Green Planet: ‘They were chained to trees, with no access to drinking water. And as well as carrying heavy riding baskets on their backs, these poor elephants weren’t allowed to touch each other or express any of their natural behaviors like roaming, dusting, mudding, scratching parasites from their skin or foraging as they would in the wild.’

While it may make for a good photo opportunity, the truth behind elephant rides is often a sad one.

The Animals Asia Foundation reportedly ‘gave the national park $65,000 to support the transition towards elephant watching tourism from July, 2018 to July, 2023’. Vietnam News went on to highlight how the ‘foundation will also send experts and staff to develop and maintain the alternative.’

“The animal welfare-friendly alternative is expected to help improve public awareness about wildlife conservation and promote new alternative tourism to domestic and international tourists.” – Phạm Tuấn Linh, Vice Director, Yok Don National Park

Elephant rides have been a contentious issue for a long time. In a recent blog, PETA outlined several reasons why they are a bad idea, and why they shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s holiday plans.

Reasons include the separation of mother and young, poor treatment, cruel training practices and fatigue. The animal welfare organisation added;

“TripAdvisor, announced that it would end all ticket sales to elephant encounters as part of a broad-sweeping policy change that also prohibits sales for “swim with dolphins” programs and tiger encounters. More than 100 other travel companies have followed suit. If you spot any ads for elephant rides or performances of any kind, please complain.”

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Monday, October 01, 2018

Nearly 1 tonne of elephant tusks, pangolin scales uncovered in Hanoi

Customs officers of Noi Bai International Airport on September 28 seized nearly one tonne of elephant tusks, ivory products and pangolin scales transported from Nigeria.

The products were hidden in 24 boxes sent by two companies based in Nigeria to two companies in Hanoi’s outskirt district of Soc Son through Turkish Airlines on September 21.

The products have been put on the seals. The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology has also taken their samples to trace their origin.

Trading, storing and transporting ivory is forbidden in Vietnam. Violators can be fined from 5-50 million VND or imprisoned from six months to five years.

In August 2017, a “Say No to Ivory” campaign was launched in Ho Chi Minh City with a view to raising public awareness of elephant protection.

The campaign, part of the global wildlife programme “When the buying stops, the killing can too”, was launched by the Centre of Hand-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE) and WildAid organisation.

The “Say No to Ivory” campaign is set to last for three years.

In Vietnam, WildAid is focusing on measures to change people’s wrong belief in the uses of wildlife products, including ivory, through communication publications.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the number of elephants in Vietnam has fallen from more than 1,000 to about 100 which mainly live along the border with Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam has become an illegal point of transit for ivory over the last decade.-VNA

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

Dong Nai adds more electric fences to protect wild elephants

Dong Nai Province will add more than 20km of electric fence to minimise conflicts between wild elephants and residents in the area.

The Department of Planning and Investment has been working with various units to evaluate the project.

The new fences, which are 20km in length, will extend from Dinh Quan District to Vinh Cuu District. The investment of VNĐ20 billion (US$867) was sourced from state and local budgets.

According to Dong Nai Province’s Forest Department, a herd of 16 elephants has damaged crops and orchards in Dinh Quan District 35 times since the beginning of the year.

Nguyen Viet Phuc, a farmer in Dinh Quan District, said six wild elephants had destroyed his banana crop in only one night.

Due to conflicts between wild elephants and people, a 50-km electric fence was erected from Dinh Quan District to Vinh Cuu District in July last year with capital of VNĐ85 billion (US$3.75 million).

The 50km electric fence is part of the elephant conservation project which began in 2104 and will end in 2020.

However, the former electric fence has yet to separate residential areas and farming areas from natural forests where wild elephants live.

Le Viet Dung, deputy head of Dong Nai Province’s Forest Protection, said that two herds of wild elephants exist in the area. Each of them has six to seven animals per herd.

The elephants have moved along the area of the fence to the end of the fence, destroying farmer’s crops and houses, he added. —

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Dong Nai: Electric fence does little to deter hungry elephants

Dong Nai (VNA) – The 50km electric fence stretching across Vinh Cuu and Dinh Quan district in the southern province of Dong Nai has been unable to prevent wild elephants from looking for food in local farms.

According to the provincial Forest Protection Sub-department, since the beginning of the year, groups of wild elephants pushed past the fence, destroying a vast area of crops and orchard gardens and causing critical losses to local people.

Currently, two herds of elephants, with some six individuals each, are settled near the end of the electric fence, regularly approaching residential areas and trampling over their farming, said Le Viet Dung, deputy head of the department.

Dung said that 50km is not long enough, and that there is still space along the corridor between the residential area and wild elephants’ original habitat.

Conflicts between the elephants and people in Dong Nai province have been intensifying over recent years. The electric fence was erected in the locality as part of the Government’s project on urgent conservation of wild elephants in Dong Nai for 2014-2020.

The fence uses solar energy and a low voltage of 4.5-14 kV. Electricity is switched on and off frequently every third of a second, which helps keep the elephants at bay without inflicting harm on them.

Along the fence, there are many gates for local residents to pass through.

The fence, which was put into operation in July last year, initially prevented wild elephants from wandering into the residential areas of some 50,000 people in Vinh Cuu and Dinh Quan districts. Dung added that the fence has protected 16,000ha of forest land and orchard gardens.

The local Forest Protection Sub-department is asking the provincial People’s Committee and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry to allow construction of an additional 20km of electric fence at an estimated cost of 20 billion VND (880,000 USD).

Dong Nai province is home to some 14-16 wild elephants that are classified as endangered Asian animals in need of protection.-VNA


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Wild elephants destroyed a vast area of local crops.



The 50km electric fence stretching across Vinh Cuu and Dinh Quan district in the southern province of Dong Nai has been unable to prevent wild elephants from looking for food in local farms.

According to the provincial Forest Protection Sub-department, since the beginning of the year, groups of wild elephants pushed past the fence, destroying a vast area of crops and orchard gardens and causing critical losses to local people.

Currently, two herds of elephants, with some six individuals each, are settled near the end of the electric fence, regularly approaching residential areas and trampling over their farming, said Le Viet Dung, deputy head of the department.

Dung said that 50km is not long enough, and that there is still space along the corridor between the residential area and wild elephants’ original habitat.

Conflicts between the elephants and people in Dong Nai province have been intensifying over recent years. The electric fence was erected in the locality as part of the Government’s project on urgent conservation of wild elephants in Dong Nai for 2014-2020.

The fence uses solar energy and a low voltage of 4.5-14 kV. Electricity is switched on and off frequently every third of a second, which helps keep the elephants at bay without inflicting harm on them.

Along the fence, there are many gates for local residents to pass through.

The fence, which was put into operation in July last year, initially prevented wild elephants from wandering into the residential areas of some 50,000 people in Vinh Cuu and Dinh Quan districts. Dung added that the fence has protected 16,000ha of forest land and orchard gardens.

The local Forest Protection Sub-department is asking the provincial People’s Committee and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry to allow construction of an additional 20km of electric fence at an estimated cost of 20 billion VND (880,000 USD).

Dong Nai province is home to some 14-16 wild elephants that are classified as endangered Asian animals in need of protection.-VNA

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Study highlights need for monitoring of online wildlife trade

Viet Nam NewsHCM CITY — Việt Nam’s illegal online trade of wildlife is occurring on websites that end with “.vn” and “.com” domain names, including social media websites, according to a study released recently by TRAFFIC.

The study “Việt Nam Online: A Rapid Assessment of E-commerce Wildlife Trade in 2017” monitored 13 websites ending in “.vn” by using keyword searches for products ranging from elephants, leopards, pangolins, rhinos, Saiga Antelopes, marine turtles and tigers.

Of the websites surveyed, 30 per cent had advertisements for wildlife species’ parts.

From March to October in 2017, 14 of the advertisements offered a total of 1,072 selected wildlife products, but 90 per cent of them were listed in just one advertisement.

All but six of the advertised products were made from elephant ivory, with the remainder coming from tigers.

This was in contrast to previous surveys that included “.com” domain names (including social media websites) that discovered many more advertisements for wildlife products.

A 2017 TRAFFIC survey found a total of 1,095 tiger products offered for sale in 187 advertisements from 85 unique sellers on four e-commerce websites and two social media websites over a period of 25 days.

The majority of the advertisements (95 per cent) were found on a single social media site.

The same site also accounted for 89 per cent of the individual items, excluding items measured by weight.

Online trade in Việt Nam is regulated by the Law on Electronic Transactions and a decree on e-commerce which prohibit the online trade of certain goods, including wildlife where applicable.

People who break the law can be punished with the same severity as those that sell illegal wildlife products in a physical marketplace.

However, collecting evidence and prosecuting online crimes can be difficult.

“Online marketplaces have become attractive to traffickers because they offer anonymity and allow people to connect over large distances more easily than ever before,” said Rosa A. Indenbaum, a TRAFFIC senior programme officer based in Việt Nam, and author of the report.

“Defeating online trade will require diligence, both from enforcement officers and website companies. This study indicates that .com sites, including social media, are where monitoring and enforcement efforts should be concentrated,” she added.

The report recommends that the Vietnamese government ensure effective law enforcement across online channels.

The government has also been encouraged to form a specialised team to focus on online monitoring of wildlife trade.

The TRAFFIC study urges law enforcement personnel and members of the public to report online wildlife crime through the hotline 18001522.

The study was funded by the UK Government through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

TRAFFIC is at the forefront of addressing illegal wildlife trade online. This year, the organisation helped convene the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online with some of the world’s biggest internet companies.

In Việt Nam, TRAFFIC supports the Việt Nam E-commerce Association in its efforts to disrupt illegal online trade through workshops and training events. — VNS

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Yok Đôn National Park ends elephant riding Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/society/451747/yok-don-national-park-ends-elephant-riding.html#FViOTu2qxpbck018.99

Viet Nam News ĐẮK LẮK — As of this month, Yok Đôn National Park will no longer offer elephant riding for tourists visiting the Central Highland province of Đắk Lắk.

Under an agreement signed by the national park and Animals Asia Foundation on Friday, the park committed to develop an alternative tourism activity designed around watching elephants in social groups within an elephant sanctuary. This will help to move the region away from elephant-riding tourism towards an animal-friendly alternative.

The Animals Asia Foundation gave the national park US$65,000 to support the transition towards elephant watching tourism from July, 2018 to July, 2023.

The foundation will also send experts and staff to develop and maintain the alternative.

They will also help promote the new elephant tourism in the national park to the international community.

Phạm Tuấn Linh, vice director of the national park, said it started shifting from elephant riding to alternative activities step by step three years ago.

The alternative benefited not only the elephants but also their owners, tamers and local community.

“The animal welfare-friendly alternative is expected to help improve public awareness about wildlife conservation and promote new alternative tourism to domestic and international tourists,” he said.

Animals Asia Foundation’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said that the transition to environmentally friendly tourism was a global trend.

In Việt Nam, Yok Đôn National Park is the first one to commit replacing the elephant riding practice with elephant watching, he said.

He added the transition was an opportunity for the national park to ensure welfare for elephants and attract visitors.

There are 45 captive elephants in Đắk Lắk Province. For years, elephant riding has been a popular tourism activity for visitors to the province. — VNS

Read more at http://vietnamnews.vn/society/451747/yok-don-national-park-ends-elephant-riding.html#FViOTu2qxpbck018.99

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Uncompleted electric fence project sees hungry elephants reaching out



An uncompleted electric fence has been unable to prevent wild elephants from looking for food at farms and gardens in Dong Nai Province.

Chairman of the southern province's Thanh Son Commune People's Committee, Ngo Van Son said on June 10 that a group of about ten wild elephants have recently reappeared and destroyed trees and plants at some villages in the areas.

"They often flock to local farms and living communities from late afternoon until early morning to look for foods," Son said. "Some 60 households have reported damage caused by the elephants to their crops and houses since the beginning of this year."

The official said that they have sent forest rangers to come and help local people to chase the elephants using fires, lights and loud sounds.

Conflicts between wild elephants and people in some areas in Dong Nai Province have been going on for over the past ten years when the animals are losing their living area.

Since mid-2017, a 50-km solar electric fencing system was installed to minimise conflicts.

"However, about 10 kilometres in Thanh Son District has no fence so the elephants keep reaching out for foods from here," Son said.


To read the full article, click on the story title.

Wild elephants destroy farm products in Dong Nai



The elephants often attacked areas that did not have electric fences.

Local residents said that the elephants appeared between 5pm and 3am. As many as 65 households suffered losses caused by the elephants over the past five months. One house was destroyed whereas a number of mango and banana trees were damaged.

Son said that local authorities warned residents not to sleep in their fields and come back home before it got dark. They were also advised to use lights or loudspeakers to drive the elephants away.

The Dong Nai Province People’s Committee is considering setting up a 20km electric fence system in the area.

A 50km electric fence was set up in July last year and helped prevent elephants from coming into the area.


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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Hanoi statement to fight illegal wildlife trade under review



The report was built by the ministry based on the commitments of 25 countries and international organisations at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in 2016.

The UK will host an international conference about illegal wildlife this October.

According to the report, the governments of countries have strengthened bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as coordinated with international and non-governmental organisations to carry out a number of activities to reduce the demand for wildlife products and eliminate illegal wildlife markets.

Many nations and organisations have adopted drastic measures to realise their commitments such as closing the ivory market in China, raising the maximum punishment 15 years’ imprisonment in Vietnam for wildlife crime, and launching projects to prevent illegal trade of wildlife in the US.

Some countries, territories and international organisations have amended legal documents relating to wildlife crime.

In addition to training activities and legal capacity enhancement, many countries have strengthened technical equipment for law enforcement forces such as customs, police and border guards to intensify inspections at hot spots of wild fauna and flora.

Some nations have sent officials to others to support training and consultancy activities as well as carried out programmes to support local livelihood, forestry protection and development through the assistance of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Bank.

In Vietnam, the disposal of more than two tonnes of elephant tusks, 70kg of rhino horns and some specimens of tiger bone in November 2016 has delivered a strong message of the Vietnamese Government to the struggle against illegal wildlife trade.

Some leading transport businesses in Vietnam have announced not to transport rare wild animals.


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Friday, May 25, 2018

USAID project helps Vietnam’s wildlife protection



NDO/VNA – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) launched the USAID Saving Species project in Hanoi on May 11.

The launched was attended by diplomats from embassies of the US, the United Kingdom, and South Africa alongside international organisations and governmental stakeholders.

“USAID Saving Species is not just a commitment between the US and Vietnamese governments, it will also link to the efforts of other organisations, within Vietnam and beyond, who are committed to combating wildlife trafficking,” said US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.

Elephant and rhino populations across the globe fell sharply and the situation of rhinos in Asia is even worse. The last rhino in Vietnam has died, he noted. “Only by working together can we solve this global issue.”

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan said efforts to intensify the protection of endangered species like rhinos, elephants, tigers and pangolins do not only aim to aid the direct conservation of these animals but also have a symbolic meaning, motivating the protection of all other wildlife species. These efforts are significant to the prevention of natural disasters and the socio-economic development of a country and the world, he added.

To raise public awareness of the issue, the minister stressed the need for coordination between media agencies, the Ministry of Education and Training and foreign partners.

With a budget of approximately US$10 million, USAID Saving Species supports the Government of Vietnam to combat wildlife trafficking through three integrated and mutually reinforcing objectives: harmonising and improving the legal framework for wildlife crime; strengthening and improving law enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crime; and reducing consumer demand for illegal wildlife products.

The project’s focal species are rhinos, elephants, and pangolins. It also focuses geographically on major urban centers like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, where target species are consumed, as well as areas where target species are trafficked, including airports, seaports, and specific land borders. The USAID Saving Species is implemented by Tetra Tech in partnership with Vietnam CITES Management Authority of the MARD. The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network in Vietnam (TRAFFIC Vietnam) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) are also project partners.


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The illegal hunting of elephants in Vietnam

The number of elephants has dropped to such an extent that they are so red. Action is needed to maintain the lives of the remaining elephants.


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Vietnam investigating China's detention of Vietnamese girl for ivory smuggling


The 13-year-old girl was caught crossing the border with 4.4 pounds of ivory necklaces and rings.

Vietnam on Thursday said it is looking into the detention of one of its minor citizens by Chinese authorities for smuggling ivory accessories, and will take protection measures if necessary.

The Consulate General of Vietnam in Nanning is contacting the Chinese authorities to learn more about the incident and their approach in handling it, Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

The 13-year-old girl, whose name has not been revealed, was crossing the border between Mong Cai Town in Vietnam's Quang Ninh Province and Dongxing Port in China's Guangxi Province on May 4 when she was stopped by Chinese customs officers.

Officers found the girl suspicious as she tried to walk past them quickly with hands in her pockets while wearing a long-sleeved jacket despite the hot weather, according to Sina.

A quick check uncovered 30 necklaces and 19 rings made of ivory, weighing two kilograms (4.4 pounds), strapped around her torso.

The girl told the officers that she had been hired by "someone else" to smuggle the accessories across the border.

The import and export of ivory or ivory products is made illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES) and Chinese regulations.

The case is still under further investigation and it remains uncertain whether the girl would face any charges by the Chinese authority.

"Vietnam is ready to take necessary measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the citizen," Hang said.



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Sunday, May 06, 2018

Avaaz is the Song Against The Ivory Trade



One of the greatest threats to a single species may be the most easily deterred. A high demand for ivory in Asia, mainly China, fueled illegal trade well after a 1989 international ban.

We’re talking blood ivory; freshly harvested tusks from African elephants whose mutilated bodies are left to rot on the savannas. Ivory is all poachers want, and it’s worth the risk of being caught when they can sell it for up to $1,000 per pound.

About 20,000 African elephants are killed annually. At this rate, the species could be wiped out in a decade. The solution is to close the door on illegal international trade.

In March 2018, at a Botswana conference on saving the elephants, 32 African leaders signed a petition calling for the European Union to close its ivory market.

The EU, primarily England, is the world’s largest exporter of legal ivory, according to the global advocacy group Avaaz, and essentially the last holdout in the effort to shut down the supply chain.

Legal to cross borders is ivory that is pre-worked or is proven to be antique. According to The World Wildlife Fund, in a recent 5-year period, 36,000 pieces were processed through UK customs. At that volume, it is believed to provide significant cover for illegal trade, presuming a percentage will miss detection. During that same timeframe, nearly 3,000 illegal wildlife products were seized in the UK, more than a third blood ivory.

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The men who love and take care of elephants in the Central Highlands



VietNamNet Bridge – The members of the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center are all “amateurs” as they were never professionally trained to take care of elephants. However, their love for and understanding of the animals is well known. Workers at the conservation center are taking care for elephants At the center, Pham Van Thinh, head of the “tamed elephant” conservation division, is called ‘Mr tamed elephant’, while Do Viet Thu, head of the wild elephant conservation division, is called ‘Mr wild elephant’.Decreasing numbers Wild elephants are getting aggressive, and damaging crops fields and houses because the forests, their habitat, are increasingly occupied by humans. Wild elephants are getting aggressive, and damaging crops fields and houses because the forests, their habitat, are increasingly occupied by humans. RELATED NEWS Elephants continue to damage crops as conservation project remains on paper

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Ivory seized by S’pore authorities in March to undergo DNA analysis



SINGAPORE — Efforts to analyse the DNA of 3.5 tonnes of ivory seized by the Singapore authorities in March are underway, and findings could help to pinpoint where the elephants were poached and shed greater light on ivory trafficking.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Friday (May 4) it is working with an American conservation biologist known for his groundbreaking work using DNA – or deoxyribonucleic acid – to aid the conservation of elephants.

Populations of the largest land animal are in peril due to poaching and the illegal trade in ivory, and tens of thousands of elephants are reportedly slaughtered every year.

Dr Samuel Wasser and his team from the University of Washington visited Singapore last month and collected 253 samples of the tusks seized.

The AVA is also working with the United States’ Homeland Security Investigations, the Singapore government agency added.

The shipment, which was declared to contain groundnuts, originated from Nigeria and was to be re-exported to Vietnam. It was detained at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority on March 5.

The AVA inspected the container and found 61 bags containing 1,787 pieces of elephant ivory estimated to be worth about US$2.5 million (S$3.3 million). The AVA said in March that the importer was assisting with investigations.

Dr Wasser said: “The ivory we are sampling now was seized a month and a half ago. That’s the shortest time we’ve ever had between the seizure (being) made and us getting to sample it. By getting the information quick, we can have a greater effect in enforcement.”

DNA analysis takes three weeks from the time the samples arrive at the laboratory, he said. Countries may not release ivory seized to his team until cases are closed, which can be months or years later. But if brought in earlier, his team can help enforcement agencies to “build a better prosecution”, added Dr Wasser. Besides Singapore, his team has worked with authorities from countries such as Kenya, Mozambique, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to collect samples of seized ivory.



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Monday, April 23, 2018

Lynn Nottage’s Play About the Elephants



Lynn Nottage’s riveting new play, “Mlima’s Tale,” opens on a moonlit savanna. Deep elephant calls rumble through the theatre. At center stage, an African man (Sahr Ngaujah) begins a soliloquy. “I was taught by my grandmother to listen to the night,” he says. “Really listen . . . for the rains in the distance . . . listen to the rustling of the brush . . . for the cries of friend or foe . . . . Because how you listen can mean the difference between life and death. It’s the truth of the savanna, something we all learn at a very young age.”

The narrator, who is identified as “Mlima” (“mountain” in Swahili), soon reveals himself to be an elephant. He has been shot with a poison arrow and is being closely pursued by poachers intent on harvesting his enormous tusks. The tusks, 2.4 metres long and ninety kilos each, are worth a fortune. The poachers have been pursuing him for forty days and are closing in on their weakening quarry. Mlima’s nostalgic soliloquy is a lament for his life, which he feels ebbing away. “They are watching me always,” he says. “I hear them all around me. And I run more than I walk.”

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Elephant procession festival in Phu Tho



Thanh Thuy district in Phu Tho province attracts tourists with its beautiful landscapes and unique wet rice civilization festivals. The Dao Xa elephant procession festival is one of the biggest there. Taking place from the 27th to the 29th day of the first lunar month, the Dao Xa elephant procession festival draws a large number of visitors. Worshiping feasts and fruits trays are carefully prepared. On a bronze tray, fruits are arranged in a 1-meter high 9-layer pyramid decorated with flowers. The feasts include sticky rice, boiled chicken, sweet bean cakes, and honey cakes. Nguyen Van Tiet, a Dao Xa resident said, “It’s necessary to keep the low heat and a slower boil. It takes 6 to 7 hours to boil the chicken and you need to keep the boiling water not too hot. By so doing, the chicken will be well cooked and its skins will not be torn.” The solemn ritual ceremony expresses people’s gratitude to the village genie, Hung Hai Cong, who, according to legend, was a younger brother of the 18th Hung King and the lord of Dao Xa, Hung Hoa, and Tho Xuyen districts. He helped the local people improve their crop irrigation to produce bumper crops. He married and had 3 children who later replaced him as governors of the three districts. Tran Van Sang, the current head of the elephant procession ceremony said “After wiping out the enemy, Hung Hai Cong received 2 pairs of elephants as gifts from the Hung King.

 To read the full article, click on the story title.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Wildlife trafficker gets 13 months in prison



Chien was suspected to be the mastermind of a ring trafficking rhino horns, elephant tusks and products of wild animals from Africa to Vietnam.

Bui Thi Ha, Director of Policy and Legislative Campaigns at ENV, acknowledged Vietnam’s breakthrough efforts in the fight against wildlife trafficking when Chien was brought to trial.

However, she said, the 13-month imprisonment is not strict enough to reflect the seriousness of the case.

The centre has expected a higher prison term to be issued for the defendant which will be a deterrent to wildlife traffickers, she said.

The 2017 Penal Code, which came into force since January 1, 2018, increases maximum jail sentences for wildlife crime from seven years to 15 years.

The ENV on January 22 revealed that 16 international and social organisations in wildlife protection in Vietnam signed a letter calling on Vietnamese law enforcement agencies to strictly handle Chien.

Earlier at Chien’s trial on November 27, 2017, the judging council asked for supplementary investigation to clarify the origin of some seized exhibits and conflicts in defendants’ statements.

Chien, who was arrested in April, 2017, was allegedly the head of a wild animal trafficking ring from Africa to Vietnam. In 2007, he was arrested and punished in Tanzania for illegally transporwild animal traffickingting wild animals.

In the last five years, his ring is believed to have expanded its operations in Africa, focusing on rhino horn, elephant tusks and pangolin scales trading.

In September 2017, in a visit to Vietnam, a delegation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)’s Secretariat and Vietnamese authorities reviewed the ratio of arresting and prosecuting of wildlife crimes. CITES recommended that Vietnam strengthen efforts in trying and apply stricter punishments for the crimes.-VNA

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Singapore seizes 3.5 tons of ivory en route to Vietnam

The shipment arrived from Nigeria and could have fetched $2.5 million on the black market.

A huge shipment containing 3.5 tons of elephant ivory was seized in Singapore en route to Vietnam on Thursday, authorities said.

Officials said the shipment had arrived from Nigeria, the Strait Times reported.

An inspection uncovered ivory that could have fetched around $2.5 million on the black market, the report said.

Elephants are a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, of which both Singapore and Vietnam are signatories.

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992 but the country remains a top market for ivory products prized locally for decorative purposes or in traditional medicine, despite having no proven medicinal qualities.

Weak law enforcement in the country has allowed a black market to flourish, and Vietnam is also a regular transit point for tusks trafficked from Africa destined for other parts of Asia, mainly China.

The country reported dozens of seizures last year, including one case in which three tons of ivory were found in the central province of Thanh Hoa in July.

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Dealer Linked To Elephant Tranquilizer Overdose Death Faces Murder Charge

A drug dealer is facing a murder charge after being linked to a fatal overdose in Minnesota involving a synthetic opioid meant for tranquilizing elephants.

Jacob David Svobodny, 28, is charged with third-degree murder, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Carver County, Minn., which could send him away for 25 years. Officers investigating the Jan. 7, 2017, death of an unidentified man at an apartment complex in Chaska allege Svobodny sold heroin cut with carfentanil to the victim, knowing the batch was tainted with a potent opioid, reports KSTP.

Carfentanil is an elephant tranquilizer roughly 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. Leah Peterson, a woman who drove Svobodny to buy the heroin, says Svobodny asked her for help selling the supply. She allegedly texted the victim to arrange the sale. Peterson, who is charged with aiding and abetting third-degree murder, said Svobodny forced the victim to inject some of the heroin in their car before leaving the area.

After learning the victim suffered a fatal overdose, Svobodny allegedly told Peterson he was “pretty sure” there was fentanyl cut into the heroin he sold and to stay quiet. A subsequent report from the medical examiners office, however, confirmed the victim died from carfentanil.

The powerful substance is increasingly cropping up in both heroin and cocaine supplies in communities throughout the country. Officials in Washington County, Pa., issued an alert in February warning that several recent overdose cases turned up positive for cocaine and carfentanil.

In neighboring Westmoreland County, where 30 overdose deaths were attributed to carfentanil in 2017, officials say overdoses linked to the substance increased toward the end of the year.

“We saw a few cases pop up early in 2017, but then by the end of the year it really picked up,” Ken Bacha, coroner for Westmoreland County, told Trib Live. “This drug is so powerful and so deadly.”

Drug overdoses, fueled by synthetic opioids, are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

National Institute on Drug Abuse data released on Sept. 7 paints a grim outlook for the future of the drug crisis ravaging American communities.

The study predicts America’s addiction epidemic will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row drug deaths surpass the Vietnam War’s U.S. casualties.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Electric fence not enough to protect elephants: experts

ĐỒNG NAI — While the erection of an electric fence has proven effective in resolving conflicts between wild elephants and people in this southeastern province, it is not a long-term solution, experts said.
 
According to Đồng Nai Province’s Forest Protection Sub-Department, a herd of 16 elephants lives on some 42,600ha of land belonging to Cát Tiên National Park, Đồng Nai Natural and Cultural 

Reservation Centre and La Ngà Plantation. In the past, conflicts between local farmers and wild elephants occurred regularly as the animals would approach residential areas and destroy local crops and orchards.
 
However, since the launch of the elephant conservation project in 2014, conflicts have decreased substantially.
 
Feeling secure with the installation of an electric fence, local residents have been proactive in investing in their gardens and fields and gaining large profits, VOV.vn reported.


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Dak Lak province moves to conserve elephants

The province’s centre for elephant conservation said relevant agencies have guided elephant owners how to care for the animals and reduce the number of days and the load elephants have to carry when they serve tourists in order to ensure their health and lifespan. The owners were also advised to notify relevant agencies when their elephants have health problems. Recently, the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre implanted microchips in local tame elephants. Data on each elephant such as height, weight, sex and previous diseases are also recorded to make it easier for managing, caring for and studying tame elephants. Dak Lak currently has 45 tame elephants, mostly in Buon Don and Lak districts. It is also home to five wild herds with about 80 – 100 elephants in total.-VNA

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Dak Nong investigates death of 40-year-old elephant

Police in Cu Jut District in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong are investigating the recent death of a 40-year-old elephant in a local forest.

According to the initial information, while going on a patrol on February 15, forest rangers of Cu Jut District found the elephant dead at the forest area in Dak Wil Commune. 

 The elephant was defined to be male and around 40 years old. After that the elephant body was handed over to Dak Wil Forestry Ltd. Co. for being preserved.

Local authorities have not yet detected any injuries or signal to show it was trapped or hunted. The local police are investing the death cause.

In December every year, elephants are often found at Cu Jut forests. The elephants, which are said to come from York Don National Park in Dak Lak Province or from Cambodia, often seek food.

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Tusks seized from New Alipore house

Alipore: Two elephant tusks weighing around 31kg were seized from a house in New Alipore Block B on Tuesday

One of the tusks is 148cm-long and has a girth of 35cm, while the other has a length of 132cm and a girth of 34cm.

"The tusks were found in the possession of Rabin Paul. We are trying to find out the ownership before taking further action," an officer of the CID said.

The team that raided the New Alipore house following a "specific" tip-off comprised representatives of the CID and the wildlife wing of the state forest department. Calcutta police helped the raiding team.

Possessing or trading in ivory is banned around the world.

A kilogram of uncarved ivory can cost anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 70,000 in the black market, while intricately carved items can fetch up to crores of rupees.

"Ivory trade within India has come down significantly. Poachers usually target the illegal markets in China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and some other Asian countries where the demand for ivory is high.

There, ivory is used in personalised nameplates, statues, and other items," a forest department official said.

Elephant are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Killing the animal or keeping any ivory item can attract at least three years in jail and a fine of Rs-50,000.

India is home to 27,300 of the 50,000-odd Asian elephants found across the world, according to the 2017 count. At the turn of the century, there were 2,50,000 Asian elephants in 13 countries.

More than 80 elephants were killed in India over the past three years.

A report released by the environment ministry states that Karnataka has the largest number of elephants, followed by Assam and Kerala.

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Elephant procession festival in Phu Tho

(VOVWORLD) - Thanh Thuy district in Phu Tho province attracts tourists with its beautiful landscapes and unique wet rice civilization festivals. The Dao Xa elephant procession festival is one of the biggest there.

 Taking place from the 27th to the 29th day of the first lunar month, the Dao Xa elephant procession festival draws a large number of visitors. Worshiping feasts and fruits trays are carefully prepared. On a bronze tray, fruits are arranged in a 1-meter high 9-layer pyramid decorated with flowers. The feasts include sticky rice, boiled chicken, sweet bean cakes, and honey cakes. Nguyen Van Tiet is a Dao Xa resident: “It’s necessary to keep the low heat and a slower boil. It takes 6 to 7 hours to boil the chicken and you need to keep the boiling water not too hot. By so doing, the chicken will be well cooked and its skins will not be torn.”


 The solemn ritual ceremony expresses people’s gratitude to the village genie, Hung Hai Cong, who, according to legend, was a younger brother of the 18th Hung King and the lord of Dao Xa, Hung Hoa, and Tho Xuyen districts. He helped the local people improve their crop irrigation to produce bumper crops. He married and had 3 children who later replaced him as governors of the three districts.




Tran Van Sang is the current head of the elephant procession ceremony: “After wiping out the enemy, Hung Hai Cong received 2 pairs of elephants as gifts from the Hung King. To express their gratitude to Hung Hai Cong, Dao Xa residents organized an elephant procession and began to worship Hung Hai Cong as the village genie.”

The worshiping ceremony is followed by the elephant procession involving more than 120 people led by a pair of big elephants to the accompaniment of by music. “Mr. Elephant”, made to look like a real elephant, is handled by 2 young men. Nguyen Xuan Khoa, the mahout in the procession, said that while the two “Mr. Elephants” play with the crowd, others wave flags and run around to excite the crowd. The procession goes from the communal house to the temple and back. Mr. Khoa said: "It’s important to make the elephants move in a lively fashion. After the worshiping ceremony, the elephants play with the crowd under the direction of the mahout.”

The ceremony is followed by come several folk games and a rice cooking competition involving 4 teams from the 4 local villages. Some contestants grind and screen the rice, some go to fetch water, and others build the fire. Nguyen Trung Khoa is a Dao Xa resident: “My village sends a team to the rice cooking competition every year. Though the competition role never changes, everyone gets very excited.”

The festival reflects historical and cultural values of Vietnam’s wet rice civilization and the northern belief in water genies. It is an opportunity for the locals to show their gratitude to their ancestors. 

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Elephant donated to Dak Lak conservation centre

A tourism company in the central highlands has given an elephant to Dak Lak Province’s Centre for Elephant Conservation.

Director of Dak Lak Centre for Elephant Conservation Huynh Trung Luan confirmed on December 1 that they received a 55-year-old elephant named H’Blu from Phuong Nam Eco-tourism Company.

The female elephant has been given a health check-up before it was donated to the centre.

A centre representative said they also wanted to adopt two other elephants that are being raised by a household in Gia Lai Province and a tourism firm in Khanh Hoa Province.

“There are several individual elephants living in different provinces. We hope the households and firms that are raising those elephants will let us adopt them and give them a better living environment,” Luan said.

The number of elephant in Dak Lak Province has declined greatly. In 1980, the province has 502 elephants. But today has only has 45 elephants left, including H’Blu. About 19 domesticated elephants are over 40 years old and cannot breed anymore.

Elephant preservation work in Dak Lak has faced various difficulties. A domesticated elephant in Dak Lak gave birth to a baby on October 8, but the baby elephant soon died.

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Tokyo woman, 77, leads charge to save elephants in Vietnam forest

Ethnic minority people and elephants have been living happily together like a family since back in the day in Vietnam's Yok Don National Park.

Elephants have been a great help for these people by carrying timber and doing farm work.

The biodiverse forest is also a home for wild elephants.

However, after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, many of the trees have been cut down to boost economic growth by harvesting timber.

Rampant elephant poaching for ivory is also threatening to wipe out one of the largest and most beautiful creatures on the planet.

A 77-year-old Japanese woman is inspiring local residents to protect the mammals.

“Destroying forests where elephants live will imperil human lives as well,"says Yoko Niimura, a former elementary school teacher who lives in Tokyo’s Kokubunji and has visited Vietnam since 2002 with the aim of protecting the elephants living in the Yok Don Forest.

Yok Don Forest, which straddles between Dak Lak province and Dak Nong province, is located in the heart of the nation.

It is believed that around 1,500 to 2,000 wild elephants lived in Dak Lak between 1975 to 1980, but the number had plunged to between 76 and 94 in 2004.

Niimura’s passion to protect elephants began after she encountered an elephant during a trip to Vietnam to take photographs after she had retired.

She was fascinated by the elephant striding strongly but calmly while carrying a mahout on its back.

She started taking photos of elephants and became aware of the harsh reality of the shrinking population of the animal, which have faced a risk of dying out.

She published a photo story book about the elephants in 2006 and established “Yok Don no Mori no kai,” a group to protect the creatures in the forest, in 2009.

The book was translated into Vietnamese by the group and 1,000 copies were donated to local children.

When she first set up the group to help the elephants, local people were not that bothered about their decline.

But now in the Yok Don Forest, an elephant conservation center has been established to protect elephants injured through poaching and to safeguard young elephants that have lost their parents.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Vietnam a hotspot for elephant-tusk trafficking

“When I was director of Yok Don National Park, I saw a live male elephant being tied by poachers to a column of house so they could cut its tusks,” said Do Quang Tung, MARD’s chief secretariat, describing an incident of two years ago in one of three areas with the highest numbers of living elephants in Vietnam.

Elephant tusks, rhino horns and bear gall are the products of a wildlife market valued at $20 billion, ranking third below narcotics and weapon markets worldwide.

Experts say mainland China consumes 70 percent of the world’s elephant tusks. Thailand, Hong Kong and Vietnam are also large markets.

The wholesale price of elephant tusks in Hong Kong and mainland China was $450-900 per kilogram last year.

In the last three months of 2016, Vietnam’s customs officers discovered and seized six tons of elephant tusks. 

Recently, in a consignment of timber imported from Mozambique, customs officers discovered 2,052 kilograms of elephant tusks hidden in six out of 100 sections of wood. About 100 elephants were killed for the tusks.

Le Nguyen Linh, deputy head of the Sai Gon Port Zone 1 Customs Agency, said he once saw a pair of tusks weighing up to 60 kilograms illegally carried through the Cat Lai Port.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Wild Elephants Charge Nghe An Village

According to Nguyen Van Trang, authority of Phuc Son Commune People’s Committee, a elephants went into a encampment during around 11 pm when it was raining heavily. The elephants broken a crops of Phan Van Dai in Bai Da Village.

Upon finding a elephants, Dai called his neighbours to assistance follow a elephants away. However, a elephants kept destroying dual hectares of acacia and many other trees. Dai pronounced a elephants also stormed a encampment final October.

The internal authorities also arrived to follow a elephants divided with drums and glow though a outcome was ineffective. The elephants usually lapse to a timberland during 2 am. According to a internal authorities, a elephants might live in Pu Mat National Park  and had left into a encampment in 2014 and 2016. They had broken many crops in Anh Son and Thanh Chuong districts.

There are about 13 elephants in Pu Mat National Park and they started venturing out to a villages due to dwindling timberland land and food.

Talking with VNExpress, Tran Xuan Cuong, executive of Pu Mat National Park, pronounced Phuc Son Commune used to have lots of bamboo though they have been transposed with industrial trees recently.

“It’s probable that a elephants usually returned to their feeding place,” he said.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Domesticated elephant’s first baby dies

According to Huynh Trung Luan, director of the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre, said that 38-year-old elephant H’Ban Nang gave birth to a 90-kilo male baby on the evening of October 8. The death was probably due to the prolonged labour. 

Some months ago, owner Y Mu Bkrong announced that his elephant H'Ban Nang was pregnant, which was greeted as good news for elephant conservation. After that, H'Ban Nang was relieved from work to relax in a forested area far from people to await the birth.

The Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre made careful preparations for the birth in the support of international animal preservation experts. However, the baby died before being born.

Statistics from Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre showed that the number of domesticated elephants plummeted from 502 in 1980 to just 44 this year because of overwork, old age and clashes with wild elephants. 19 of the animals are too old and can't breed anymore.

Last year, the centre started a research project to improve the fertility rate among domesticated elephants. The owners will be informed when is the best time for breeding to match elephants together.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Mysterious herd of elephants marches out of hiding in southern Vietnam

A previously unseen herd of elephants has been spotted in Vietnam's southern province of Dong Nai, according to forest management officials.

While it’s great news for conservation efforts, it could be a curse on the family of 15, which includes four calves.

Officials believe that this herd has never been seen before, because the herd they have been tracking in recent years is led by a different male and only has one or two calves.

There’s low chance that the animals have given birth to more calves in such a short time, they said.

The news of the herd has been covered widely by local media and hailed as good news for conservation efforts.

But officials familiar with wildlife protection in Vietnam said it's not always a blessing. Media coverage about incidents like this helps to raise awareness about the need for protection, but it also alerts poachers to the animals’ location.

Dong Nai started a VND74 billion ($3.25 million) project in 2013 to protect the giant animals from poaching and deadly encounters with farmers.

Part of the project is an electric fence erected three months ago to keep them away from farmland and residential areas. Officials said the fence only gives a slight shock to scare the animals and does not harm them.

Nine elephants have died in the province in the past seven years, and one person was killed during an encounter with the giant mammals.

According to figures from conservation organizations, Vietnam’s wild elephant population has shrunk by 95 percent since 1975 to less than 100. At least 23 wild elephants have died over the past seven years, and nearly 75 percent of them were less than a year old.

Experts said that plantations near their natural habitats are a major threat to their survival.

The U.S. government has pledged $24 million to help protect Vietnam’s last remaining elephants by conserving their habitat.

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Vietnam's 1st Domesticated Elephant in 30 Years to Be Born This Month

Despite predictions that Vietnam risks losing its entire elephant population within a decade, there is still hope as one elephant is set to give birth around the end of this month.

Ban Nang is the first domesticated elephant to become pregnant in thirty years in Vietnam. According to Dan Tri, owner Y Mu Bkrong announced that during her pregnancy, the 38-year-old elephant has been relieved of her working duties and moved to a quiet forested area to relax. She is likely to give birth naturally in the coming weeks.

Y Mu Bkrong also said that Ban Nang used to be cared for by another female elephant, H’Ban, who was relocated. However, the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) made an arrangement with H’Ban’s new owner, and she has been hired as a nanny of sorts for Ban Nang. Last month, Y Mu Bkrong received US$7,500 to care for the elephants.

Deputy Director of the Dak Lak Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Dong claimed that this is “a positive sign for elephant conservation work.”

The future of Vietnam’s elephant population remains a lingering concern, as both wild and domesticated elephants are on the brink of extinction.

The Vietnam Elephant Initiative reported that only roughly 100 elephants remain in the country, about forty of which are wild spanning five different herds. The remaining sixty or so are held in captivity. “Genetic isolation, deforestation, and human-elephant conflict are serious problems in Vietnam and a continuous threat to the remaining populations of wild elephants.” Due to lack of education, many of the elephants suffer from poor health and dangerous solitary living conditions, as opposed to their natural inclination to live communally.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

First domesticated elephant to be born in Dak Lak after 30 years

Ban Nang is the first pregnant domesticated elephant in Dak Lak in 30 years.

Statistics from Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre show that the number of domesticated elephants plummeted from 502 in 1980 to just 44 this year because of overwork, old age and clashes with wild elephants. 19 of the animals are too old and can't breed anymore.

Last year, the centre started a research project to improve fertility rate in domesticated elephants. The owners will be informed when is the best time for breeding to match elephants together.

Recently, owner Y Mu Bkrong announced that his 38-year-old elephant, Ban Nang, was pregnant. She has been relieved from work to relax in a forested area far from people.

Ban Nang and her nanny, H'Ban cross a stream.

Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre have collaborated with the Asian Animal Foundation to send veterinarians and experts to consult and take care of Ban Nang. She is expected to give birth naturally at the end of September.

Ban Nang’s owner said the elephant was an orphan and taken care of by another female, H'Ban. But when Ban Nang grows up, H'Ban was already moved to a new home.

Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre recently discussed with H'Ban new owner and decided to spend VND10m (USD440) a month to hire H'Ban as a nanny for Ban Nang.

On August 29, Y Mu Bkrong was given VND171m (USD7,500) to take care of the elephant.

Vu Van Dong, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, "This is a positive sign for elephant conservation work. We'll closely monitor the elephant as she’s not very young."

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hungry wild elephants hurt domestic ones

Shrinking and degrading wild elephant habitats in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak have led to a shortage of food and more conflicts between wild and domestic animals, according to Director of the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre Huynh Trung Luan.

Degrading wild elephant habitats in Dak Lak province have led to a shortage of food and more conflicts between wild and domestic animals.

The locality has witnessed five conflicts between wild and domestic elephants since March. The wild animals, in group of six to seven, have reportedly been approaching forest ranger stations and residential areas to search for food and attack domestic ones. They hurt seven animals of the centre and killed another in Krong Na commune, Buon Don district.hungr

Luan said that when wild elephants enter the stage called “musth”, they will become more aggressive and hurt others for the right to mate with females.

In a bid to reduce the clashes, the centre has ordered elephant keepers and tourism businesses to enhance measures to protect their animals. Elephants should be cared and protected at home, the centre recommended.

The number of domestic animals in the province drops dramatically to 43 individuals from 502 in 1980. The herd of domestic elephants is facing the threat of extinction as many of them are no longer fertile.

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Wild and tame elephants in Đắk Lắk’s clash for food

There have been at least five clashes recently between wild elephants in search of food and tame elephants in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk’s Buôn Đôn District.

Most recently, on Monday, a herd with seven wild elephants attacked and injured two tame elephants at Forest Management Station No. 6 in Yok Đôn National Forest.

Huỳnh Trung Luân, director of the provincial Elephant Preservation Centre, said on Thursday that statistics with the centre from March till date shows the five conflicts occurred as wild elephants have been coming closer to human inhabitations such as forest management stations and local residents’ fields in search of food. So far, seven tame elephants have been injured, and one has died.

Luân said this problem is the result of the decline in forest area; wild elephants move towards inhabitations as they cannot find sufficient food in the forests. Another reason is that when wild male elephants are in rut, they are very violent and they attack the tame male elephants to get access to the females.

To reduce such conflicts, the centre has asked the tame elephants’ owners and tourism businesses using tame elephants to take steps to protect their elephants better, and not let their elephants wander into areas where wild elephants are typically spotted. Also, the tame elephants should not be chained in the forest in the evening, instead they should be brought home and protected, Luân said.
If there are such conflicts, residents should report the incident to the centre or local authorities who can step in and drive away the wild herds safely.

In the past few decades, the number of tame elephants in Đắk Lắk has seen a serious decline, from 502 in 1980 to the current 43. The main reason for this is that the number of tame elephants that bear a calf is few. At present, one female elephant is pregnant and expected to deliver next month, a positive sign as this is the first time in 30 years that a tame elephant in the province will bear a calf.
The Đắk Lắk Elephant Preservation Centre has joined hands with foreign experts to create conducive conditions for female elephants to bear calves.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

US pledges $24 million to protect Vietnam's last remaining elephants

Keeping people away from the giant mammals and their habitat is the only chance they have of survival.

The U.S. government has promised $24 million to the central province of Quang Nam to support elephant conservation efforts after multiple sightings of what is thought to be the last remaining herd left in the wild.

The money will be directed through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ambassador Ted Osius said during a visit to the rural province on Thursday to attend the agriculture ministry’s opening of an elephant reserve.

The reserve covers nearly 19,000 hectares (47,000 acres) in Nong Son District, where elephants and their tracks have been spotted many times in recent years.

Since 2011, locals have been reporting sightings of elephants, some alive and others killed by poachers, as well as their footprints.

In 2015, when Quang Nam was zoned off to become part of an urgent elephant conservation program, a team of experts arrived and reported a herd of seven elephants with male, female and juvenile members.

A similar herd was spotted near houses on the edge of the forest in January and July this year.

“On one occasion, the elephants were just 50 meters from us. Their trumpeting was as loud as truck horns,” a local man said.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Hundreds Of Kilograms Of Smuggled Elephant Tusks Found In Vietnam

Vietnamese customs officers in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday found hundreds of kilograms of elephant tusks hidden in two containers shipped from Africa, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The smuggled elephant tusks were well hidden in bitumen barrels in the containers shipped from Benin, the city-based Cat Lai port authorities said on Wednesday.

A company in Ho Chi Minh City declared that the two containers contained 16 tons of bitumen and they would be exported to Cambodia after transit in the city.

Earlier, in April and May, Vietnamese customs officers detected several cases of smuggling elephant tusks, rhino horns and pangolin scales worth nearly US$450,000 from Africa to Ho Chi Minh City.

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

Dong Nai tests electric fence to protect elephants

A 50km long electric fence has been put into operation on a trial basis to prevent wild elephants from wandering into residential areas in the southern province of Dong Nai, according to the provincial Forest Protection Sub-Department.

The 2.2m high electric fence runs across Vinh Cuu district’s Ma Da and Phu Ly communes and Dinh Quan district’s Thanh Son commune,. 

Electricity is regularly switched on and off every one third of a second, which helps keep the elephants at bay while not inflicting harm on them.

Along the fence there are many gates for local residents to pass through.

The fence was built at total cost of 85 billion VND (3.7 million USD) sourced from state and local budgets.

Dong Nai province’s forest is currently home to about 15 wild elephants. In recent years, there have been increasing conflicts between local farmers and wild elephants as the animals approached residential areas and destroyed local crops and orchards. In the past seven years, nine wild elephants died and one person was killed by elephants.

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Saturday, September 02, 2017

Joint efforts called for to protect last wild elephants in Vietnam

No single country or individual could put an end to illegal wildlife trade, but joint international efforts should be made to prevent wildlife crimes and protect the elephant species in the centuries ahead, US Ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, has said

The diplomat made the statement while addressing a talk held by the US Embassy in Hanoi, on August 11, in response to World Elephant day (August 12), under the theme “Please treat elephants well”.

In attendance at the event were Nguyen Dao Ngoc Van and Alegria Olmedo from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Rose Indenbaum from TRAFFIC, and Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung from Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV).

During the talk, delegates called for greater attention to elephants and their difficult living conditions, whilst discussing possible ways to preserve the last 100 wild elephants that remain in Vietnam.

The event enabled participants to understand more about the ways in which they could tackle the threats to elephants, through voluntarily joining wildlife organisations, supporting wildlife preservation efforts and raising awareness of the elephants’ struggle for survival.

Earlier on August 10, the US Embassy screened a film entitled “Ivory Game”, a documentary film featuring illegal elephant ivory trade, from the moment the elephant was poached in Africa to the moment when the elephant ivories were sold illegally in Asia.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

3 tonnes of elephant tusks seized from smugglers

Vietnamese authorities have seized nearly three tonnes of ivory hidden among boxes of fruit, officials said Sunday, the latest haul to spotlight the country's key role in the global wildlife smuggling trade.
Police in the central province of Thanh Hoa found 2.7 tonnes of tusks inside cartons on the back of a truck that was on its way to Hanoi, according to a report on their website.

"This is the largest seizure of smuggled ivory ever in Thanh Hoa province," the report said.
State media said the elephant tusks originated from South Africa.

The truck driver claimed he was unaware of what he was transporting, according to a report in state-controlled Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Police declined to comment further when contacted by AFP on Sunday.

The global trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after populations of the African giants dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to around 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

There are now believed to be some 415,000, with 30,000 illegally killed each year.
Prices for a kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of ivory can reach as high as $1,100.

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992 but the country remains a top market for ivory products prized locally for decorative purposes, or in traditional medicine despite having no proven medicinal qualities.

Weak law enforcement in the communist country has allowed a black market to flourish, and Vietnam is also a busy thoroughfare for tusks trafficked from Africa destined for other parts of Asia, mainly China.

Last October, Vietnam customs authorities discovered about 3.5 tonnes of elephant tusks at Cat Lai port in Ho Chi Minh city, all in crates of wood, including a hefty two-tonne haul packed into a single shipment.

In 2015, 2.2 tonnes of tusks, originating from Mozambique, were discovered and seized northern Hai Phong port.

And last week authorities in Hong Kong seized 7.2 tonnes of ivory, the largest haul in the city for three decades.

While low level couriers are sometimes arrested across Asia very few wildlife trafficking kingpins are brought to justice.

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Joint efforts called for to protect last wild elephants in Vietnam

The diplomat made the statement while addressing a talk held by the US Embassy in Hanoi, on August 11, in response to World Elephant day (August 12), under the theme “Please treat elephants well”.

In attendance at the event were Nguyen Dao Ngoc Van and Alegria Olmedo from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Rose Indenbaum from TRAFFIC, and Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung from Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV).

During the talk, delegates called for greater attention to elephants and their difficult living conditions, whilst discussing possible ways to preserve the last 100 wild elephants that remain in Vietnam.

The event enabled participants to understand more about the ways in which they could tackle the threats to elephants, through voluntarily joining wildlife organisations, supporting wildlife preservation efforts and raising awareness of the elephants’ struggle for survival.

Earlier on August 10, the US Embassy screened a film entitled “Ivory Game”, a documentary film featuring illegal elephant ivory trade, from the moment the elephant was poached in Africa to the moment when the elephant ivories were sold illegally in Asia.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dong Nai tests electric fence to protect elephants

A 50km long electric fence has been put into operation on a trial basis to prevent wild elephants from wandering into residential areas in Dong Nai province. (Photo: dantri.com.vn)

Dong Nai (VNA) – A 50km long electric fence has been put into
operation on a trial basis to prevent wild elephants from wandering into
residential areas in the southern province of Dong Nai, according to the
provincial Forest Protection Sub-Department.

The 2.2m high electric fence runs across Vinh Cuu district’s Ma Da and Phu Ly
communes and Dinh Quan district’s Thanh Son commune,.

Electricity is regularly switched on and off every one third of a second, which
helps keep the elephants at bay while not inflicting harm on them.

Along the fence there are many gates for local residents to pass through.

The fence was built at total cost of 85 billion VND (3.7 million USD) sourced
from state and local budgets.

Dong Nai province’s forest is currently home to about 15 wild elephants. In
recent years, there have been increasing conflicts between local farmers and
wild elephants as the animals approached residential areas and destroyed local
crops and orchards. In the past seven years, nine wild elephants died and one
person was killed by elephants.-VNA

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Hanoi customs officer caught stealing 150kg of elephant tusks

Legal procedures for embezzling property are currently underway against Pham Minh Hoang, a public servant at the Hanoi customs department, by the municipal police department.

Two of Hoang’s accomplices were also arrested to support the investigation.

An announcement made by the Hanoi customs department on Thursday confirmed that Hoang was serving as the keeper of the agency’s warehouse.

The customs officer abused his role to steal and sell a 150-kilogram shipment of ivory that had been confiscated by the customs department and stored at the facility.

Hoang is currently suspended from his position to facilitate the probe.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs asserted that a stern punishment is expected to be imposed upon the corrupted officer, in accordance with the law,

It also ordered the Hanoi customs department to carry out a comprehensive review of its organization and policies and correct any shortcomings or loopholes in the management of confiscated products.

The agency is coordinating with the municipal police to identify additional accomplices and return stolen products.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the matter.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Giant electric fence shocks wild elephants away from farmland in southern Vietnam

Vietnam’s southern province of Dong Nai is looking to end clashes between farmers and elephants by keeping the animals at bay with electric fences.

Government officials in the province, which neighbors Saigon, have installed an electric fence that runs 50 kilometers (31 miles) as a barrier between local farms and residential areas and the elephants.

The fence has been in place for more than a month, and can release an electric charge of between 4.5 and 14 kilovolts, they said.

“The elephants tend to return to the jungle when they encounter the fence,” said Le Viet Dung, deputy chief of Dong Nai’s Forest Management Department.

Dung said the fence only emmits a short charge for a third of the second, which is not enough to harm the animals.

“It only scares the elephants and keeps them away,” he said.

The fence is part of a VND74 billion ($3.25 million) project started in 2013 aimed at protecting the giant beasts and avoiding deadly encounters with farmers.

According to figures from conservation organizations, Vietnam’s wild elephant population has shrunk by 95 percent since 1975 to less than 100. At least 23 wild elephants have died over the past seven years, and nearly 75 percent of them were less than a year old.

Experts said that plantations near their natural habitats are the biggest threat to their survival. The same problem has been reported in Yok Don Park in the Central Highlands, which is home to the largest group of wild elephants in Vietnam.

Van Ngoc Thinh, director of WWF Vietnam, said in a statement in December: “The big animals need a giant habitat, but theirs has become narrow and unsafe.”

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Saturday, August 05, 2017

More than 88,500 cases of smuggling in first half of 2017

Authorities collected 7.9 trillion VND (347.5 million USD) from administrative fines, selling off confiscated smuggled goods, and tax arrears, 40 percent more than the previous year’s first half.

According to National Steering Committee 389, the majority of smuggled goods fall into categories of essential consumer goods, heavily taxed goods, or goods banned for import, such as cocaine, explosives, tobacco, cosmetics, petrol and gas, elephant tusks or rhino horns, among others.

Some notable cases include an interception of 7,800 foreign cigarette packs in the southern province of Long An, or confiscation of 26kg rhino horns and 6kg of elephant tusks in Hanoi, and apprehension of 20 ships illegally transporting 3.5 million litres of gas.

The information was released last week at a steering committee meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh.

The steering committee noted that smuggling continues unabated despite heightened efforts to stem it, especially in border areas, where criminals take advantage of hard-to-access locations and transporting the goods on hidden trails or along small streams sheltered by thick forest.

On the maritime front, smuggling of petrol and gas has been on the rise, the committee said, since Vietnam’s current gas price is higher than in some other countries in the region. The criminals’ favoured modus operandi is using foreign ships to transport oil and gas to Vietnam’s maritime borders and then splitting the stock among different Vietnamese fishing boats.

The Deputy PM said strict legislation must be adopted to “remove or reassign leaders showing signs of aiding and abetting smuggling, counterfeit products and trade fraud.”

He added that anti-smuggling efforts are “an important and permanent political duty to be carried out by all levels of the government,” and that there will be no “zero tolerance” in this matter.

The Deputy PM also said that attention must be focused on transnational criminal groups to protect domestic production.

“Culprits order goods from China, bring them back into the country, slap ‘Made in Vietnam’ labels on them and sell them to unsuspecting customers,” according to Le Hong Son, Vice Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee and member of the Steering Committee 389.

He said previously, the counterfeit products were usually of luxury brands, however the range is now increasingly diverse, from sweets and lightbulbs to clothes.

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