Saigoneer

BackArts & Culture » Culture » Tail Hair Jewelry Is a New Trend That's Hurting Vietnam's Elephants

Tail Hair Jewelry Is a New Trend That's Hurting Vietnam's Elephants

Add demand for elephant tail hair jewelry, beside habitat loss and ivory poaching, to the list of what will likely lead to the extinction of this incredible creature. 

In Dak Lak, the mountainous highland province where Vietnam's remaining wild elephants roam, an ugly trend is emerging: collecting tail hairs to embed in rings or make bracelets out of. While collecting and selling naturally shed elephant hairs is a legal activity with historic roots in numerous cultures, these hairs are more likely to be illegally harvested from living elephants or taken from poached corpses.

Elephants obviously have hair for a reason, and removing it puts stress on them. "The tail is very much a part of body hygiene, so by plucking the hairs out ... or cutting the entire lower tail off, you're putting a handicap on your elephant," said Dionne Slagter, Animal Welfare Manager at Animals Asia.

Finding an elephant hair in Vietnam is considered good luck while people in Africa, India and elsewhere in Asia believe wearing it has the power to protect a wearer from illness. Selling it or removing it directly from the pachyderms, however, is a new development. Vietnamese living amongst the animals "loved and considered elephants part of their family so they wouldn't do anything to hurt them," said Linh Nga Nie Kdam, a researcher on Ede culture.

Vietnam is home to only 100 or so wild elephants, down from 2,000 in 1990. Experts, therefore, believe that much of the hair sold originates elsewhere in Asia or as far as Africa. There have been several high-profile busts of elephant hair jewelry outside of Vietnam, including one in Senegal where goods worth US$65,000 were seized

[Photos by Thanh Nguyen via AFP]


Related Articles:

US Offers $24m for Elephant Conservation in Central Vietnam

Vietnam's 1st Domesticated Elephant in 30 Years to Be Born This Month

Yok Don National Park Receives Financial Grant to Stop All Elephant Rides, Activities 


Related Articles

in Culture

'Phuc Dat Bich' Turns Out to Be a Phucking Faker

You may recall the story of Phuc Dat Bich, the Australian man who claimed that Facebook had been repeatedly suspended his account because of his name. Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, the man has admitte...

in Culture

10 Incredible Photos Of Life On Hanoi's Train Tracks

Traffic in Vietnam is crazy but the train tracks that skirt through Hanoi’s residential areas reach levels of insanity.

in Culture

10 Photos Of The Amazing Vietnamese Spider-Men

While some Vietnamese cities have begun to move their tangled nests of electricity wires underground, they are still a ubiquitous feature of many urban neighborhoods.

in Culture

12 Of Saigon’s Best Parks And Open Spaces – Part 1

Though Saigon has lost quite a bit of its verdant luster over the years, there are still patches of green throughout the city that are worth checking out. Vietnam Coracle has made a handy guide to som...

in Culture

12 Of Saigon’s Best Parks And Open Spaces – Part 2

Though Saigon has lost quite a bit of its verdant luster over the years, there are still patches of green throughout the city that are worth checking out.Vietnam Coraclehas made a handy guide to some ...

in Culture

14 Incredible Satellite Photos Of Vietnam

There are plenty of hi-tech ways to show Vietnam’s beauty – time lapses and drone panoramas to name a few. But a less common vantage point is from above. Way above.

Video »

BUDX HCMC