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Vietnam’s Central Highlands province ceases elephant ride service

Vietnam’s Central Highlands province ceases elephant ride service

Friday, February 10, 2023, 22:04 GMT+7
Vietnam’s Central Highlands province ceases elephant ride service
Mahouts often use sharp objects to control elephants in festivals in Vietnam. Photo: Trung Tan / Tuoi Tre

Authorities in Dak Lak Province, located in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region, have decided to halt elephant ride service at a local tourism site, starting from Friday, to preserve the elephants there.

A leader of Biet Dien tourism and hotel branch, an arm of Dak Lak September 2 Import-Export Co. Ltd., announced the suspension of the service at the Buon Don Tourist Center in the namesake district in Dak Lak Province.

Managers of the tourist center were assigned to recommend visitors to use other leisure services.

The tourist center currently has two elephants and has signed contracts with local residents to use their four elephants.

During the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday last month, the charge for an elephant ride was VND500,000 (US$21.2) per two customers.

In addition, the cost for taking photos with elephants was VND100,000 ($4.2) per visitor.

Customers could also interact with the elephants and feed them with sugarcane costing VND30,000 ($1.3) per bunch.

The Dak Lak People’s Committee in late 2022 approved a project supporting the conversion from elephant rides to elephant-friendly tourism models, which required more than VND55.45 billion ($2.3 million).

Of the total, the Animals Asia Foundation funded nearly VND50.9 billion ($2.2 million) and VND4.56 billion ($193,310) would be sourced from the local budget allocated for theCenter for Elephant Conservation, Animal Rescue, and Forest Protection.

The project, which will be conducted until December 2026, is aimed at developing elephant-friendly tourism services, stopping elephant rides, improving the welfare of elephants, and thus preserving the elephants in Dak Lak.

Moreover, the provincial People’s Committee last month asked the People’s Committees of Lak and Buon Don Districts, relevant departments and agencies, and elephants’ owners to review elephant use in the Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Festival, which is slated for March 10 to 14.

In particular, elephants should be transported to the festival and their photos should be used in opening and closing ceremonies as well as educational activities only.

In a street elephant parade, elephants should be carried on vehicles. 

In addition, interactive games involving elephants should not affect their mental health or hurt them.

Dak Lak Province is now home to 37 elephants, including 22 in Buon Don District, well below the 500 elephants in the 1980s, Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper reported.

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Thanh Ha / Tuoi Tre News

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