Vietnam plans to organize “elephant guard” units in mountain villages to defend its dwindling wild elephant herds from poachers.
“We have to make immediate and pragmatic decisions” to save the elephants, said Nguyen Quang Ha, vice minister of agriculture and rural development, as he announced a three-year, $600,000 conservation project on Friday.
Conservationists say there are only 250 to 300 wild elephants left in Vietnam, down from 1,500 to 2,000 in 1970. Logging and farming, poaching, the Vietnam War’s effects have been blamed for the decrease.
Poachers can get up to $500 per pound of ivory, making an elephant carrying 20-pound tusks worth a fortune to mountain villagers.