In Vietnam, the population of Asian elephants has experienced a precipitous decline over the past 2-3 decades and has reached critical levels. It is estimated that there are approx. 60-100 wild elephants living in five separate groups remain, (with the largest population residing in Yok Don National Park) while around 38 aging elephants are held in captivity and used for tourism. Many of the captive elephants do not receive proper care and are managed as individuals with family homes. While there are several owners that own more than one elephant, most of the elephant owners care for one elephant. Therefore captive elephants are mainly managed as isolated individuals and not as a resource for conservation.
Despite the small elephant population, human-elephant conflict is a serious and on-going problem in Vietnam. Since 2009, 17 elephants have been killed by humans and there were up to 38-recorded conflicts in 2013. Other issues such as poaching, deforestation and habitat degradation continue to put substantial pressure on wild populations, making the future of elephants in Vietnam highly uncertain.
In the past few years we’ve been working with Animals Asia Foundation, Elephant Care International and North Carolina Zoo, to provide expert resources and practical advice to support long-term improvements in care and veterinary treatment for captive elephants in Vietnam. The Initiative has been working with the relevant authorities and the ECC in Vietnam since 2013 and aims to:To try and address these concerns, the formation of an Elephant Conservation Centre was approved in 2011 by the central government. The Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre, (ECC), is a government-supported organisation tasked with the challenge of preventing the extinction of the Asian elephant in Vietnam. ECC is comprised of two departments; one that oversees the management of captive elephant populations and the other that protects the wild elephant population.We are supporting them in:
- The development of a sustainable model for the recover and protection of Vietnam’s elephant population through the integration of wild and captive elephant management practices.
- The development of a sustainable elephant facility that will provide positive welfare and whole of life care to the captive population of elephants.
- A programme that introduce effective approaches to the protection of wild elephants in Vietnam