The Central Highland province of Dak Lak is making every effort to conserve wild elephants in the locality as the number of the animals is dropping over recent years.

The provincial Elephant Conservation Centre has reported that the number of wild elephants living in the locality declined to 70-80 individuals in 2014 from over 550 in 1980.

Meanwhile, the population of domesticated elephants has shrunk from 502 in 1980 to 49 in 2014, down over 90 percent.

The herd is forecast to disappear in 20 – 30 years if the members do not reproduce.

Experts attributed the situation to deforestation and illegal hunting.

From 2005 to 2012, 14,000 hectares of forest in Buon Don, Ea Sup and Ea H’lao districts, which used to be home to a large number of elephants, were destroyed. And poaching has also pushed the wild elephant population down even further.

The province in 2013 approved an urgent project worth nearly 85 billion VND (around 40 million USD) for conserving wild elephants in the locality to 2020, aiming to sustainably manage population of wild and domesticated elephant.

Elephants are a specialty of Dak Lak’s tourism, and conserving the animal not only helps maintain a precious genetic source but also preserves the cultural identity of the region.-VNA