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Dak Lak Province May Buy Thai Elephants to Boost Tourism

One Central Highlands province may import elephants from Thailand in a bid to boost tourism and maintain its own local elephant population.

A Dak Lak province official recently made the recommendation, as local herds are thinning rapidly due to infertility and deaths associated with overworking, reports Thanh Nien.

“The elephants in Buon Don District are too old and unable to reproduce, threatening an extinction of domesticated elephants,” said Y Shi That, a senior official in the province, which has the greatest concentration of domesticated elephants in Vietnam.

That believes the US$3.8 million elephant conservation budget for 2015-2020 should be used to buy one or two breeding elephant pairs in order to “maintain the population of domesticated elephants and the identity of Buon Don”.

Dak Lak province was home to 500 elephants in the 1980s. Today, however, this number has shrunk to 43 due to heavy workloads and a lack of food, both of which have contributed to infertility among the population’s remaining males.

While wildlife tourism is a popular marketing hook for Southeast Asian destinations, the tides may be turning. Earlier this month, Thai authorities forced the closure of its popular and controversial Tiger Temple following the backlash of a National Geographic exclusive which examined the temple's rumored crimes, including poor treatment and exploitation as well as efforts to supply the black market. 

[Photo via Flickr user Guillén Pérez]

Related Articles:

Thailand Is Closing Its Controversial Tiger Temple

Elephant Dies of Exhaustion While Serving Tourists in Dak Lak: Report

Hue Citadel’s 'Colosseum': Where Tigers and Elephants Battled to the Death

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