Vietnam Opens Country’s First Elephant Reserve
Vietnam has a new nature reserve, created to protect the few remaining Asian elephants in Vietnam. These “gentle giants” face the threat of extinction, and have become so rare that few Vietnamese have ever seen them. Fortunately, seven elephants were recently found in Quang Nam Province, and in September the province’s Forest Protection Department opened Vietnam’s first elephant reserve to protect them, with support from the USAID Green Annamites Project, which is implemented by ECODIT. 

The USAID Green Annamites Project helped organize a celebration on opening day. More than 100 local people from Phuoc Ninh and Que Lam communes in Nong Son district, where the reserve is located, attended the event. Dignitaries in attendance included the Vice Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee (PPC), Mr. Le Tri Thanh, and the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, His Excellency Mr. Ted Osius. 

“Improving the lives of local communities, conserving biodiversity, and supporting provinces to implement sustainable economic growth programs is an important part of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam. We are proud to partner with the Quang Nam provincial leadership to provide a critical habitat for the endangered Asian elephant, while finding ways to improve the incomes of local farmers,” said Ambassador Osius at the launch.

During the day-long launch event, the PPC and leaders from USAID/Vietnam and the USAID Green Annamites project led activities to introduce local people to their new elephant neighbors. A mobile tent included a Terrestrial Giant exhibit to educate people about the elephant’s life history. School children joined a painting contest, a “magical hat” event, and other games to learn about elephant conservation. 

The elephant reserve advances the larger goals of the USAID Green Annamites project. The project works with local governments, the private sector, and communities in Vietnam’s Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam Provinces to reduce deforestation, increase conservation, and to increase the incomes of vulnerable people, including ethnic minorities, through improved farming practices. The project will work with communities surrounding the nature reserve to engage them in conservation efforts and help them find sustainable ways to boost their incomes. In addition, the project will work with reserve staff to protect the elephants and to educate visitors from throughout the country about the importance of elephant conservation. 

Read more about the USAID Green Annamites Project here.