The men who love and take care of elephants in the Central Highlands    
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The men who love and take care of elephants in the Central Highlands Workers at the conservation center are taking care for elephants
Apr 27 2018

VietNamNet Bridge - The members of the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center are all “amateurs” as they were never professionally trained to take care of elephants. However, their love for and understanding of the animals is well known.

At the center, Pham Van Thinh, head of the “tamed elephant” conservation division, is called ‘Mr tamed elephant’, while Do Viet Thu, head of the wild elephant conservation division, is called ‘Mr wild elephant’.

“Elephants are very intelligent and emotional,” Thu said.

Thu is a graduate of the Forestry University, while Cao Quan, 35, was once a worker at Yok Don National Park. Phan Phu, the man whose avatars on Facebook are always images of elephants, graduated from the Da Nang Food & Foodstuff Junior College. 

Thinh trained as a veterinarian and decided to work at the center while waiting for opportunities to apply for a master’s course. He has worked there since 2011.

None of the workers at the conservation center were trained to take care of elephants, because there is no such school major in Vietnam. 

Decreasing numbers
Wild elephants are getting aggressive, and damaging crops fields and houses because the forests, their habitat, are increasingly occupied by humans.

The number of elephants in Dak Lak is rapidly decreasing. In 1980, there were 500 elephants, but the figure dropped to 40 in 2011. 

They are old, sick and exhausted because of hard work. For decades, locals have seen old elephants dying and have not seen newborns. Many elephants died and never gave birth.

In Dak Lak, elephants are seen not only as important laborers like any member of the M'nong ethnic minority, but also as a symbol of luxury and power. 

For a long time, locals did not allow male and female elephants to meet. The workers of the conservation centers had to meet owners of the elephants to persuade them to create favorable conditions for them to pair elephants.

The workers also have to spend a lot of time to persuade owners to reduce the number of working hours for the elephants. Elephants are forced to work hard in the severe summer heat and have to serve tourists.

Quan said the elephants kept at the centers are all friendly and not aggressive. 

Elephants are now facing a threat of extinction in Vietnam.  According to the Elephant Conservation Center, in 1980 Dak Lak had over 1,000 domestic elephants, but the figure dropped to 100 in 2015
- Vietnamnet