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Last tamed elephant in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province dies

Saturday, December 05, 2020, 14:26 GMT+7
Last tamed elephant in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province dies
Ya Tau elephant dies on the bank of the Ia Tul River in Ia Pa District, Gia Lai Province, December 4, 2020. Photo: K.N. / Tuoi Tre

The last domesticated elephant in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, Ya Tau, died at the age of 47, on Thursday afternoon.

The information was confirmed by Nguyen Quoc Tuan, deputy chairman of Gia Lai’s Ia Pa District, on Friday afternoon.

Ya Tau is a cow belonging to the family of Ma Cham, a local man in Chu Mo Commune, Ia Pa.

Ma Cham’s family domesticated Ya Tau and raised her freely in the wild near the Ia Tul River in Chu Mo Commune.

After Cham died, his son Siu Kiem took care of the animal. 

Ya Tau was brought to the river bank to drink water on Thursday afternoon.

However, she suddenly fell down by the bank and died, after 24 years without any peers in the locality.

The elephant had been tired and lost appetite several days before.

Chu Mo Commune was famous for taming wild elephants in the past.

However, the local herds of elephants shrank gradually after the animals died, but the villagers could not afford new ones due to poor economic condition.

Ya Tau was the last elephant there.

A file photo taken in 2014 of elephant Ya Tau. Photo: D.V. / Tuoi Tre
A file photo taken in 2014 of elephant Ya Tau. Photo: D.V. / Tuoi Tre

In 1993, Ma Cham brought Ya Tau, then 20 years old, to his house to keep company with his bull, named Bak Kom.

But Bak Kom died three years later, leaving Ya Tau the only elephant in Chu Mo Commune.

In 1975, Nhon Hoa Village in Chu Puh District and Chu Mo Village in Ia Pa District in Gia Lai Province had 30 domesticated elephants, according to Nhan Dan newspaper. 

The figure dropped to 14 in 1992. Since 2014, Ya Tau was the only elephant in the region.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, there were 91 domesticated elephants in Vietnam in 2018, down from 165 in 2000. 

The 1,500-2,000 wild elephants in the country in 1990 have now dwindled to 124-148, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

The elephants found in Vietnam are categorized as the Asian elephant and considered “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and “critically endangered” on the Vietnam Red List, and found in Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

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