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US Offers $24m for Elephant Conservation in Central Vietnam

The United States has pledged US$24 million to an effort to conserve some of Vietnam's last remaining wild elephants in Quang Nam province.

VnExpress reports that funding will go through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). US Ambassador Ted Osius announced the decision for support during a visit to the central province last week, when the Ministry of Agriculture opened a 19,000-hectare elephant reserve.

Located in Nong Son District, the reserve covers an area where numerous elephants have been spotted since 2011, though some of these sightings have been of animals killed by poachers.

A group of experts who visited the province in 2015 discovered a herd of seven male, female and juvenile elephants, the news source shares. Vietnam's elephants belong to the species Elephas maximus, or Asiatic elephant, which is the only living species of the elephant family currently found in India and Southeast Asia.

Osius explained during his trip that USAID hopes to improve the livelihoods of the 20,000 locals, many of them farmers, living around the reserve, as agricultural activities can cause conflict for wild animals.

Le Ngoc Trung, the Nong Son District chairman, said officials have not settled on the best method of doing this yet. He also cautioned that media coverage of the elephants, while helpful for raising awareness of the need for conservation, could also tip off poachers on where to look.

Elephants are critically endangered in Vietnam and it is estimated that fewer than 100 remain in the wild, VnExpress states.

[Photo via Scribd]

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