A 40-year-old elephant has died while serving travelers at a tourist site in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, while a gayal has also beathed its last in Ninh Thuan Province in the south-central region.
The People’s Committee of Krong Na Commune, Buon Don District in Dak Lak said on Sunday that local agencies have made a report about the death of the elephant.
The animal died of exhaustion while serving tourists at the Ban Don tourist area, according to news website VietNamNet.
Another news website reported that the animal met its end while carrying tourists in the site.
Competent agencies examined the body before destroying it according to current regulations.
The dead animal was owned by Y Ka Tuk, a local man, who has conducted an offering ceremony for it in accordance with local traditional customs.
When alive, the elephant was worth VND700 million (US$32,830).
On January 15 in the same province, another tamed elephant, which was 36 years old, fell down a hill and slipped away. Huynh Trung Luan, the director of the provincial elephant conservation center, said that the elephant, which was named Book Kham, became exhausted and dropped dead in forest subzone 1341 in Lak District.
The owner of Book Kham, D. V. L., who lives in Lien Son Town in the district, said that on the afternoon of January 15, some mahouts took the elephant to a forest for it to search for food.
He added that the animal showed no abnormal signs, but not long after the elephant had left, he was informed of its death. Currently, the number of tamed elephants in Dak Lak is declining sharply due to the increasing death toll.
Local elephants have lost their lives to old age and, particularly, exhaustion after being forced to overwork for tourism purposes, authorities said, adding that the total number of tamed elephants across the province has fallen to only 50.
These elephants have failed to give birth since they are overworked and there is an absence of a natural environment for mating as a result of shrinking forest areas, they said.
Gayal dies in Ninh Thuan
The only gayal that frequently appeared in Ninh Thuan died last Saturday, March 7, Nguyen Cong Van, director of the Phuoc Binh National Park, said on Sunday.
The gayal was found dead in a forest in Bac Ray 2 Hamlet.
Sources said that the animal died not because of poaching, but due to its old age and exhaustion while searching for food and water during the ongoing drought in the province, Van said.
This was the only gayal that often came to the hamlet to search for food and mate with local cows, he said, adding that such mating has resulted in the birth of cross-bred cows in recent times.
The Departments of Science and Technology of Ninh Thuan and Lam Dong Provinces are working on a project to boost the development of cross-bred cows that have resulted from mating between local cows and gayals.
Currently, a farm in the hamlet is raising 10 such cross-bred cows, including five males and five females.
The gayal, an intimidating wild animal that can weigh over a ton, has been pushed to the verge of extinction in Vietnam.
Acknowledged as one of the largest ‘wild oxen’ in the world, around 300 gayals remain in the jungles in the southeast and south-central regions of the country.
This is just one-tenth of the total number of gayals found 20 years ago in the Southeast Asian nation.