Farmers in the southern province of Dong Nai are complaining about their crops being damaged by a large herd of hungry wild elephants.
A wild elephant is spotted near a farm in Dong Nai Province. Photo by the Provincial Forest Protection Department.
According to forest rangers in Dinh Quan District, a herd of between 12-15 wild elephants made some 7-8 visits to 28 farms between February and March this year and destroyed everything there, despite the efforts of local farmers to chase them away.
A local farmer, Nguyen Van Khoi, said wild elephants ate up over 400 banana trees which are valued at VND40 million (USD1.764) in just one night on March 10.
“My bananas were all nearly ripe and we had expected a large crop but then we lost everything in a single night,” Khoi said.
Forest rangers in Dinh Quan Distrct visit a banana farm which are destroyed by wild elephants.
Another farmer, Ngo Quang Truong complained about dozens of 10-year-old cashew trees together with many farming tools being destroyed by the elephants.
Farmer Do Van Dinh suffered the biggest losses with a three-hectare farm with 1,500 banana trees, 300 black pepper trees, among others totally destroyed when the hungry wild animals came out of the forest to seek for food.
Dinh Quan District’s Forest Rangers Department said that it is now the dry season so there probably not enough food for the elephants in the forest. They usually appear from 9pm until early the next morning at the farms.
“The number of elephants seems to be increasing,” the department said. “Earlier we estimated that there were 9-12 elephants but now it seems that herd has increased to between 12-15. We’ve seen several footprints of calves.”
According to the vice director of the department, Nguyen Van Chieu, they are carrying out an emergency elephant conservation project in which some 30km of electric fence will be built in Tan Phu, Dinh Quan and Vinh Cuu districts to prevent conflict between elephants and local people.
The provincial authorities have also proposed measures to conserve and prevent consanguineous mating in the herd of wild elephants there.
According to the province’s Forest Protection Department, there are about 14 elephants living in an area of some 53,000 hectares in Vinh Cuu, Dinh Quan and Tan Phu districts.
Le Viet Dung, deputy head of the department, suggested two plans to prevent interbreeding among the elephants, including asking for the Vietnam Administration of Forestry’s permission to bring some elephants in other localities to Dong Nai, and promoting international co-operation in the work so that Dong Nai could mate its elephants from others in regional countries.