The status and conservation of Asian Elephants in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam
Conservationists, the world over, have always sketched a grim picture of the future of the Asian elephant in Vietnam. These pachyderms suffered heavily due to loss and modification of forest cover during the Vietnam War. Extensive spraying of herbicides and defoliants like Agent Orange, deployment of bombs such as Napalms, and subsequent clearing of forests for agriculture and practice of commercial logging, have resulted in habitat degradation and fragmentation, thereby rendering elephants more vulnerable to poaching. Today, the country has fewer than 150 elephants and they remain in small and scattered herds approaching extinction.
ANCF carried out a detailed study on the status, distribution and conservation of the Asian elephant in Cat Tien National Park (CTNP) under the auspices of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Cat Tien National Park and Cat Tien National Park Conservation Project (a joint initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development).
- Provided training on elephant survey, research and conservation techniques to the staff at CTNP
- Begin a systematic survey of elephants in the 740 km2 area of the park and its environs
- Formulated recommendations for conservation of the Asian elephant based on the survey results
Since our field work there have been no reports of any death or birth of elephants in the Park, although the possibility of some breeding cannot be ruled out. The Vietnamese Government has enlarged the area under protection and has approved an Action Plan for Urgent Conservation Areas in Vietnam that calls for establishing three elephant conservation areas in the country, of which Cat Tien National Park is one.