Wild elephant found trapped in Vietnam's Central Highlands

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The elephant found caught in traps in Vietnam's Central Highlands on May 7

A seriously injured wild elephant has been found caught in traps in Buon Don protective forest in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

Local residents on Tuesday found the animal, which is about six years old, entangled in two foot traps believed to have been set by poachers.

The locals then informed forest management of the situation. The traps ensnared the elephant's foot and trunk.

Forest rangers have determined the elephant is male, estimating that it weighs 700 kilograms and with tusks about 30 centimeters long each.

The Yok Don National Park and Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center brought two domesticated elephants to the site, along with four mahouts (elephant keepers), veterinarians and food on Wednesday.

Tran Van Thanh, acting director of Yok Don National Park, said the wild elephant was behaving aggressively and had attacked the domesticated elephants during the attempts to rescue it.

"Its trunk is injured and [the animal] is very weak," he said.

Thanh told Dan Tri online newspaper on Wednesday that he was considering anaesthetizing the elephant because its life is already at risk, saying it would die soon unless it could be successfully rescued.

A Yok Don park ranger, who wished to remain anonymous, said the elephant must have been caught in the trap for several days before it was found because its wounds had already become badly infected.

Conservationists said the trapped elephant may belong to a herd that was searching for food in the area.

A study conducted by Cao Thi Ly of Tay Nguyen University in 2011, which represents the most recent survey of Vietnam's wild elephant population, estimated that there were between 83 and 100 of the animals in 2009.

Meanwhile there were 82 captive elephants in 2011, down from 600 in 1980, the study said.


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