Vietnam province to set up wild elephant conservation project

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A wild elephant spotted wandering on a paddy field in Dong Nai Province. Photo credit: Dong Nai Forest Protection Department 

Vietnam's government has approved a US$3.46-million project that will take urgent measures to conserve the wild elephant herd in the southern province of Dong Nai, VnExpress reported. 
The project will be implemented next month in the districts of Vinh Cuu, Tan Phu and Dinh Quan, home to vast natural forests where wild elephants were usually spotted.  
It will include keeping track of the elephants, expanding their natural habitat and installing electric fences to protect the elephants from poachers and avoid farmer-elephant clash. 
The project will be funded by the central and provincial governments. 
According to the provincial Forest Protection Department, since 2009, nine wild elephants died and one person was killed by an elephant. 
Authorities said initial survey showed there are only around 11 wild elephants left. 
They said the natural habitat for wild elephants decreased from 50,000 hectares in the 1990s to 14,000 hectares in 2005 mostly in Cat Tien National Park. 
Between 2006 and 2009, elephants expanded their territory to 34,000 hectares , encroaching on residential areas in Ma Da and Phu Ly communes in Vinh Cuu District. 
Last year and early this year, the elephants were seen in the forests near Thanh Son Commune in Dinh Quan District and near the La Nga forest plantation. 
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Asian elephants are also seen in the central province of Nghe An and the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. 
The species is listed as “endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and “critically endangered” by Vietnam’s Red Data Book.

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