VietNamNet Bridge – A constant fear of attack from wild elephants pervades the commune of Phuc Son. It’s a fear that locals have been forced to live with for the last many years.
In late 2006, a herd of five of the mammoth beasts stormed this commune in the Anh Son District of Nghe An province, damaged the crops, pulled down houses, and attacked people, injuring one man.
In 2011, a group of three men, while sleeping in the forest, was attacked. Two were fortunate enough to escape, but one was killed.
In April 2013, Luong Van May, who was fishing at a rivulet, was also killed by wild elephants.
Recent years have witnessed an upswing in the tendency of wild elephants to leave the forest and enter residential areas. Experts say they do so in the search for food and salt. The cause, they say, is damage to their natural habitat, and a decline in its ability to provide the sustenance they need.
Most recently, on March 6, the hamlet of Cao Veu 4 fell victim to the rampages of a herd of six elephants, who appeared suddenly, trampling the sugar cane fields. Residents tried to drive the elephants away by lighting fires and beating drums, but to no avail. They animals planted themselves <on | in front of > people and remained for one full day and night, damaging 10 hectares of sugar cane crops.
Ha Thi Dat, a farmer, complained that most of her sugar cane fields were damaged. “We were warned about the appearance of the wild elephants. Everybody spent sleepless night to cast them out. However, they were not afraid of human,” Dat said.
“Even the use of explosives did not bother the elephants,” she added.
Luong Van Tinh, 71, may be the biggest sufferer from the latest elephants’ attack. As more than a half of his sugar cane was damaged, Tinh fears he will not be able to repay his debt of VND30 million.
Local authorities remain powerless
According to Nguyen Huu Minh, Chair of Phuc Son Commune, local people began growing sugar cane in February of last year in the hope of alleviating their poverty. However, their sugar cane fields now have been devastated, before they ever being harvested.
Also according to Minh, the authorities of Phuc Son commune have requested financial relief from Anh Son district. However, they were rebuffed by the district authorities, and told to provide financial support for the farmers with funds from the commune’s budget.
“But the budget is empty and we have no money to support the farmers,” Minh lamented.
According to Nguyen Thanh Nhan, Director of the Pu Mat National Park, there are some three herds of wild elephants in Nghe An province. The ones which regularly enter the Cao Veu Village live in the buffer zone of the Pu Mat Park.
A program on elephant conservation in 2013-2020, with a focus on settling the conflict between elephants and humans, has been approved by the Nghe An provincial People’s Committee. Under the program, VND30 billion would be disbursed in 2014-2015 to implement the project. However, to date, only VND300 million has so far been disbursed, a sum which, according to Nhan, is just equal to 1/7 of the expenses on drawing up the project.