New funding to end elephant rides at Vietnam tourism sites

By Tran Hoa   November 14, 2022 | 12:26 am PT
New funding to end elephant rides at Vietnam tourism sites
A tourist poses for a photo when riding an elephant in a lake in Dak Lak Province in 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa
Dak Lak Province, home to Vietnam's largest elephant population, will aid tourism sites in ending elephant rides by 2026.

The provincial administration has agreed to spend VND55 billion ($2.2 million) to help local tourism sites become more elephant-friendly and end all riding services.

The fund, drawn from Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), will also be given to centers that care for elephants, Tran Xuan Phuoc, director of the Elephant Conservation and Wildlife Rescue Center, said Monday.

It will be disbursed from November this year to December of 2026.

Dak Lak signed an agreement with the AAF, a Hong Kong-based animal welfare organization, to phase out the elephant-riding tourism industry along with some other activities that badly affect the well-being of domesticated elephants last December.

Accordingly, the province will instead offer elephant-friendly tourism services in an effort to protect the animal. The fund will make up for the loss of income among elephant owners and mahouts, and support new business models.

Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center said the province now has only 140 elephants left, including domestic and wild ones, dropping 90% against 1980.

For years, the province has been famed for its elephant-back tours, with visitors able to watch elephants swim, play football and parade, which activists describe as "exploitation."

Since 2004, the AAF has cooperated with Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center to send international experts to provide health checks and technical advice on elephant care and management.

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