Fauna and Flora International (FFI) have an urgent appeal right now to help elephants in Vietnam.
They are urging us all to help by 20 December 2022, and they need to raise £99,819.00 for elephants.
What's the problem?
Vietnam’s elephants have been plagued by years of sprawling development, the expansion of agriculture, and the impact of war. These things have destroyed their habitat. Poachers have moved in on the animals who did survive.
Vietnam’s rhino have died, and Fauna and Flora suspect the tigers there have died too.
Official numbers estimate that just 91 elephants are left. That’s 91 elephants. Are they beyond saving?
There's hope for the 91 elephants left
There is hope for the elephants, thanks to new camera-trap research by FFI. They received a grant to determine whether any elephants had indeed survived in the Pu Mat National Park. The park is a key area which was thought to be one of their four strongholds. It lines the coast. And the research shows without doubt that the elephants are alive and probably breeding.
There is a chance – one chance – to save Vietnam’s elephants.
The plan to save Vietnam's elephants
Time is of the essence. The elephants keep drifting off into human communities, outside of the forest. And they can easily destroy fields full of crops and fences. Two people have been killed. The elephants need to be removed.
FFI have a plan to avert the most imminent threats and to raise the awareness of locals of how important these animals are.
The plan has three parts:
- To build an emergency warning system,
The elephants’ whereabouts are unknown – they could be heading to local communities or towards deadly roads, railroads or power-lines. FFI has secured state of the art elephant collars from a project in Myanmar that no longer needed them. They need to create a vet team to find the elephants, tranquilise them and fit the collars. Then they can create a warning system when the elephants are moving to areas that would be dangerous to them. It costs £245 to tranquilise and collar an elephant.
- To equip local protection teams.
Once FFI have received an alert, protection teams can head to the area on motorbike to keep local people and elephants safe. Equipment to make a noise such as speakers and fireworks will make sure the elephants give a wide berth to the area and that they head back to the forest. This takes fuel, equipment and wages for those people doing this work. £95 could fund one emergency response whilst £45 could buy the noise making equipment.
- To build natural barriers.
Fences are easily destroyed by the elephants. They could get trapped in ditches, so FFI are looking and more innovative barriers which have been successful in other parts in the world in keeping people and elephants apart. One possibility includes planting chillies along the fields which border the forests – these will irritate the elephants’ trunks so they will look for different food sources. And the farmers will benefit from selling the chillies. £23 could provide a sack of chilli seeds.
FFI is also looking at buying drones (£980 a drone) to track and monitor the elephants at a safe distance. This could give a huge advantage to FFI in getting the animals away from crisis situations.
Strategies like this have worked well elsewhere in the world, so FFI are looking for funding fast to see if these can work in Vietnam before things get worse for the elephants.