of Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam:status and conservation of a vanishing population
Surendra Varma, Nguyen Xuan Dang, Tran Van Thanh and R. Sukumar
This study updates the status and conserva-tion of the Endangered Asian elephant
in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam. Line transect in-direct surveys, block surveys for elephant signs, villagesurveys of elephant-human conﬂict incidents, guard-postsurveys for records of sightings, and surveys of elephantfood plants were undertaken during the dry and wetseasons of 2001. A minimum of 11 elephants and a max-imum of 15-17 elephants was estimated for
. 500 km
of the Park and its vicinity. The elephants are largelyconﬁned to the southern boundary of the Park and makeextensive use of the adjoining La Nga State Forest Enter-prises. During the dry season the elephants depend on atleast 26 species of wild and cultivated plants, chieﬂy thefruits of cashew. Most of the villages surveyed reportedsome elephant-human conﬂict. Two adult male elephantsseem to cover a large area to raid crops, whereas thefamily groups restrict themselves to a few villages; over-all, the conﬂict is not serious. Since 2001 there have beenno reports of any deaths or births of elephants in the Park.We make recommendations for habitat protection andmanagement, increasing the viability of the small pop-ulation, reducing elephant-human conﬂicts, and improv-ing the chances of survival of the declining elephants of this Park. The Government has now approved an ActionPlan for Urgent Conservation Areas in Vietnam that callsfor the establishment of three elephant conservationareas in the country, including Cat Tien National Park.
Asian elephant, Cat Tien National Park,elephant-human conﬂict,
, minimumviable population, Vietnam.
0.5% of the global population of the Asianelephant
(Tuoc, 1991; Khoi & Tuoc,1992; Dawson, 1996), categorized as Endangered onthe IUCN Red List (IUCN, 2007), and with only a fewelephant groups, each comprising from one to
. 30individuals at most, the elephants of Vietnam areapproaching extinction (Duckworth & Hedges, 1998;Heffernan & Cuong, 2004). Elephants in Vietnam suf-fered heavily during the second half of the 20th centurywhen
. 50% of the country’s forests were lost as a resultof war, logging and conversion to agricultural land,resulting in habitat fragmentation and exposure of theelephants to hunters (Khoi & Tuoc, 1992; Duckworth &Hedges, 1998).The number of elephants in Vietnam was estimatedto be 1,500-2,000 in 1984 and 300-600 in 1997 (seeDuckworth & Hedges, 1998, for various estimates).However, these are probably overestimates, and theremay have been only 70-150 elephants remaining by
. 1998 (J. Walston, quoted in Duckworth & Hedges,1998). The most recent estimates are even lower, at only59-81 elephants for the whole country (Heffernan &Cuong, 2004).In southern Vietnam two small elephant groups were believed to exist in Cat Tien National Park and adjoiningareas (Polet & Khanh, 1999). The survey reported heretherefore aimed to assess the status of elephants in thisarea and to examine their ecology so as to provide datafor a management plan (further details are providedin Sukumar
, 2002). Speciﬁcally, we aimed to(1) determine the distribution of elephants in Cat TienNational Park and adjacent areas, (2) estimate thenumber of individuals and determine their sex andage if possible, (3) study feeding preferences and conﬂictwith people, and (4) identify threats to the populationand make conservation recommendations.
Cat Tien National Park (declared in 1992) is located insouthern Vietnam,
. 130 km north-east of Ho Chi Minh
(Corresponding author) Asian ElephantResearch & Conservation Centre, C/o Centre for Ecological Sciences, IndianInstitute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, Karnataka, India. Efirstname.lastname@example.org
Nguyen Xuan Dang
Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and BiologicalResources, Hoang Quoc Viet Street, Cau Giay, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Tran Van Thanh
Chief of Forest Protection Department of Cat Tien NP, Tan PhuDistrict, Dong Nai Province, Vietnam.
Received 12 October 2005. Revision requested 27 April 2006.Accepted 15 August 2006. First published online 14 January 2008.
(1), 92–99 doi:10.1017/S0030605308010090 Printed in the United KingdomOryx Vol
No 1 January 2008