Vietnam’s elephant race draws cheers, and critics

BUON MA THUOAT, Vietnam — Mahout Y Hoi Bya sits atop his elephant, whacking him with a large stick to urge him toward the finish line at the Buon Don race in Vietnam's central highlands. Locals say the race is a celebration of the much-revered animals — traditionally thought of as family members in this part of Vietnam — but conservation groups are calling for an end to the festival, which they say is cruel and outdated. Normally held every two years, the Buon Don elephant festival — a major tourist event — features football matches, swimming sessions, a parade and a buffet for the animals, topped off with a highly anticipated race on the event's final two days. Y Hoi says his animal's past successes in the popular race has earned him and his pet pride of place in his village in central Dak Lak province, home to many of Vietnam's surviving elephants."He often wins first place in the running competition in Dak Lak," said the 38-year-old, who started caring for elephants as a young boy. His elephant's pre-competition routine involves a regular diet of bananas and sugarcane to ensure its strength, Y Hoi, from the Ede ethnic minority…

Vidyut Jammwal celebrated Holi with Elephants

This Holi was indeed special for Junglee star Vidyut Jammwal as he celebrated the festival of colors with the Elephants at Haathi Gaon in Jaipur. He spent his day bonding with elephants, lovingly applying gulal to their foreheads, wading into ponds on elephant-back and being sprayed endlessly by his bearer with pond water.Vidyut shares, “One of the things that was running in my head when I was on top of the elephant was that we need to do this more in our country. We had to shoot our movie Junglee in Thailand but spending by day here, playing Holi with them, I felt so good that I am doing this in my country. I felt so good that people will know about this place where they can come and really enjoy with elephants.”And as you plan a fun today, Vidyut shares, “With the elephants, I was always having a lot of fun. But it always came to being respectful of what they wanted, how they felt about me being around. I couldn’t cross any lines with them. That’s exactly how you should play your Holi too.” Junglee releases on 29th March 2019. Please credit and share this article with others…

Foundation organizes feast for elephants in Hua Hin

Prachuap Khiri Khan – A grand feast was arranged for six elephants aged 80 to 95 years old at the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, on Tuesday.The feast was organized to celebrate the National Elephant Day on March 13th of every year and was attended by the chairman of the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation, Wanit Henwongprasert, the first mahout of England, Tony Kelly, aged 93, volunteers, local people, and foreign tourists.The feast featured a giant fruit cake consisting of 10 kilograms of bananas, pineapples, apples, corns, and watermelons.A large number of tourists fed the elephants with fruit and took photos of them.Wanit said the event helped promote Thailand’s tourism and Hua Hin, while reminding everyone that Thai elephants are the symbolic animal of Thailand.Please credit and share this article with others using this link:

Relief for animals as prestigious Vietnamese zoo quietly ends cruel elephant performances

Following years of criticism from Animals Asia, Saigon Zoo has ended all elephant performances.Saigon Zoo, the biggest in Vietnam, has ended all live elephant performances following years of opposition by Animals Asia.For years, four elephants have been forced to perform tricks, such as rearing up on their hind legs and standing on stools every weekend and on public holidays.These activities cause great suffering to the animals as they are forced to behave unnaturally and in manner which can cause long-term harm to their bodies. Such activities can only be achieved through the threat of violence in the form of spiked sticks known as bullhooks.While the zoo made no formal announcement that the shows have ended, Animals Asia has gained assurances that they have not taken place since December 2018 and will not be reintroduced.Animals Asia has opposed the elephant performances since 2016 when the charity began liaising with the zoo and the Vietnamese Zoo Association.Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:“We are absolutely delighted that Saigon Zoo has realised the elephant shows are cruel, out-dated and utterly at odds with the principles of animal welfare.”Saigon Zoo owns six Asian elephants, four of whom were forced to perform. All six…

Dong Nai: forest rangers work to drive away hungry elephants

Dong Nai (VNA) – Forest rangers of Dinh Quan district in the southern province of Dong Nai have been provided with equipment to monitor and drive away wild elephants that have been destroying local households’ crops since the start of this year. The equipment includes a drone, night-vision binoculars, cameras, long-beam lights, hand-held loudspeakers, protective footwear, and raincoats.Nguyen Van Chieu, head of the district’s forest ranger team, said about 14 wild elephants, in groups of two or three, have approached households in Hamlet 5, Thanh Son commune, Dinh Quan district, to search for food, salt, and water. Since early 2019, there have been 11 incidents of elephants intruding upon crop fields of local households, he said, adding that Dong Nai’s forest ranger department has built a 50km electric fence system and is asking for permission to set up another 20km to prevent wild elephants from coming into the area. Experts say the elephant requires a vast habitat, but its living space has been shrunk due to human encroachment into the forest. Local foresters in Dong Nai say the natural habitat for wild Asian elephants has shrunk from 50,000ha in the 1990s to 34,000ha in 2009.Only some 100 wild elephants remain…

300 elephants gather to mourn over the passing of their leader in Sri Lanka

This tear-jerking video shows a large herd of elephants mourning over the passing of their leader near Kalawewa reserve in Sri Lanka. While there are many instances prove that animals also feel joy and love, not many know that they are capable to feel sadness and distress as well.As shown by the heartbreaking footage, nearly 300 elephants gather to pay their last respect to their former leader who was allegedly killed by a rival.The dead elephant can be seen lying on the banks of a lake near Anuradhapura while tens of elephants gather around it.The video also shows the elephants gather around the dead elephant silently as they mourn together.A baby elephant can also be seen reaching out to the dead elephant with its trunk before returning to the herd.According to Daily Mail, the unusual sight also drew a crowd from the locals who flocked the scene to take pictures and videos of the extraordinarily huge herd of elephants.Elephants are some of the animals that are known to mourn over their dead relatives by touching the carcass or covering it with leaves.This was not the first time elephants were seen to display such behavior. Rare footage from National Geographic taken…

Lodi native student works with elephants in Thailand

This winter, Kennedy Herbsleb, 21, of Lodi, spent two weeks in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian.Traveling with study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, Kennedy was selected as part of a small team that volunteered giving care at a dog shelter and spent a week working directly with rescued elephants at an elephant sanctuary.The Veterinary Service program brings students to Thailand for two weeks to volunteer alongside veterinarians from the US and Thailand. For one week, Kennedy and her team volunteered at an elephant sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand to work with the giant animals and learn about animal rescue and conservation on a larger scale.The elephants at the sanctuary have been rescued from trekking, logging or forced breeding programs. Many of them had been abused and suffer from chronic injuries or blindness. At the elephant sanctuary, they are cared for by volunteers from around the world.Kennedy fed and cared for elephants, as well as learn about their diagnoses alongside an elephant vet. The sanctuary is also home to over 1,000 animals, including cats, dogs, water buffalo, horses and cows, and is sustained in huge part by the work of weekly volunteers such as…

URA intercepts three trucks of elephant tusks, Vietnamese nationals arrested

The Uganda Revenue Authority working with security personnel have today intercepted three trucks of smuggled elephant tusks and pangolin scales at Elegu border post, on the Uganda- South Sudan border.Although details are still scanty, the tax body says two Vietnamese were arrested and are helping police with investigations.According to URA’s twitter feed, the tusks and scales had been meticulously sealed and it took an non-intrusive cargo scanner to discover them.Dickson’s Kateshumbwa, the Commissioner Customs notes that these were nabbed at Elegu border coming from democratic republic of Congo transiting through Uganda to be taken to Vietnam.Following a tip off from the intelligence, two Vietnam nationals have been arrested in custody of three containers each carrying over 750 pieces of ivory which are estimated to be from over 300 elephants and yet to be identified tones of pangolin scales.Dickson Kateshumbwa the customs commissioner general says that at Elegu border scanners gave them confusing pictures which forced them to do a detailed search.“These people declared timber as the consignment being taken to Vietnam but due to our intelligence we intercepted them since the scanner couldn’t give us a clear picture,” Kateshumbwa said.The ivory was hidden in the timber.This has been the most…