A project started by the Center for Wildlife Conservation in Vietnam – Save Vietnam’s Wildlife – SVW in conjunction with Cat Tien National Park aims to turn the notion of witnessing wild elephants into a tourism product. Researchers and managers will therefore be able to plan tours for visitors to see real forest elephants in the vicinity of Cat Tien National Park and the buffer zone based on the technologies that have been used to monitor forest elephants in the past when these two units have been deployed, such as AI cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Some of the neighboring countries, including Thailand, have established elephant ecotourism. In this case, SVW’s new proposals aim to improve the interaction between humans and elephants and turn conflict into a way of settlement.” According to Mr. Nguyen Van Minh, deputy director of Cat Tien National Park, “I believe this will be a very good tourism product, in line with the long-term orientation as well as in line with the current management style of not creating conflict with wildlife, creating a good livelihood for local people.”
In recent years, it has been shown that herds of forest elephants frequently enter the buffer zone, destroy residents’ crops and property, and cause serious harm to people’s lives. Conversely, some people have resorted to unfavorable tactics to control forest elephant populations to stop the animals from damaging crops. Therefore, conflicts between humans and elephants in the conservation area still exist.
One of the objectives of this initiative, says Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, Director of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, is to lessen conflicts and increase livelihoods for those who are harmed by wild elephants. “With the use of technology, we will be able to determine the appropriate time and location of the elephants, allowing us to take advantage of that technology to develop tourism products that will enable visitors to see the wild elephant for themselves.”
For the project to be possible, according to the Center for Wildlife Conservation in Vietnam – SVW, further evaluation studies are required so that people will have more chances to interact with and observe elephants. Develop regulations to guarantee the safety of visitors while also conducting training sessions with the local community. Preparation in terms of equipment and materials is also required. “It is dangerous to take tourists on foot to watch elephants”. Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, Director of SVW, emphasizes, “We have looked at the concept of coming to observe elephants and needing specialist vehicles to move securely.