Wild elephants raid fields in southern Vietnam

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An elephant herd has destroyed houses and dozens of hectares of crops belonging to 30 households in Dong Nai Province's Phu Ly Commune over a week, local authorities say.

The forest management department of the Vinh Cuu National Reserve said the wild elephants showed up in groups of four to five several times between February 9 (Lunar New Year's Eve) to February 14.

During their midnight raids, the animals ravaged sugarcane and garlic fields as well as mango orchards in Hamlet 2 that is located near the reserve.

Dang Van Nhon, chief of Hamlet 2, told Thanh Nien that the herd has five to 11 elephants.

He said residents tried lighting fires, banging gongs and flashing flashlights to scare the elephants away, but none of these ruses worked.

"Only after they were full and ruined the crops did the elephants return to the forest," he said.

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In February 2012, farmers in Hamlet 2 had endured another attack of a herd of roughly 10 wild elephants, living in a forest of around 30,000 hectares stretching from Cat Tien National Park to Vinh Cuu Nature Reserve, for a week and a half. The elephants had feasted on corn, sweet potatoes, cassava and sugarcane.

Local residents had said then that the elephants' forays had been caused by their failure to find food in the forests during the dry season. 

A Dong Nai ranger had said last October that a shrinking habitat and scare food sources in recent years have led to increasing conflicts between the elephants and humans.

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