Baby Elephant Spotted in Vietnam Nature Reserve

In March 2020, a team from the USAID Green Annamites Project spotted a healthy 9- to 12-month-old baby elephant during a routine biodiversity inventory at the Elephant Habitat and Species Conservation Area, an elephant reserve set up by the Project in 2017. Green Annamites is USAID’s flagship environmental project in central Vietnam. It is implemented by ECODIT, in partnership with local government bodies, businesses, and NGOs.

Biodiversity conservationists and the Vietnamese people celebrated this development as a sign that the newly established reserve is leading to real change. This is the first baby elephant identified since the reserve was established in 2017, at which time the elephant herd consisted of just seven adult elephants. Elephants have a gestation lasting almost 2 years (22 months). Thus, this development shows that the reserve, which consists of 18,977 hectares, has provided a safe habitat for the endangered Asian elephant to successfully give birth to and raise a baby. 

This milestone is particularly important because of the status of elephants in Vietnam. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, illegal wildlife hunting, and ivory trading, the Asian elephant population is declining steadily and is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. For many years, Vietnam’s Nong Son District in Quang Nam (QN) province has seen a dramatic decline in these majestic creatures. Today it is estimated that Vietnam has less than 100 wild elephants.

“ECODIT is devoted to preserving biodiversity around the world, especially in Vietnam,” said Jeremy Swanson, ECODIT’s Senior Manager for Natural Resource Management (NRM). “The new baby elephant serves as a beacon of hope for endangered elephant populations and is a testament to our commitment to building resilience and managing future conservation challenges.”    

The USAID Green Annamites Project works with provincial governments and local communities in Vietnam to protect wildlife populations, reduce forest degradation, strengthen conservation planning, and improve the livelihoods of forest-dependent people. The project has helped create alternative livelihoods for local communities, promoted a landscape approach to biodiversity conservation, built the adaptive capacity of government stakeholders and vulnerable communities to effectively adapt to climate change impacts, and mobilized more than $20 million in private investment toward the environment, sustainable landscapes, and NRM.

ECODIT is an American firm working with governments, businesses, and local communities to advance environmentally- and socially-responsible development around the world. For 26 years, ECODIT has provided professional services through more than 250 projects/contracts to diverse clients in more than 50 countries in areas of energy, water, environment and NRM, as well as urban and local governance.