Man wants to build elephant cemetery
  • | TP, | August 01, 2014 08:39 AM
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A businessman in Dak Lak Province, who owns the largest herd of domestic elephants in Vietnam, wishes to build a cemetery for them.

Dan Nang Long has earned the nickname “King of the Elephants” in his hometown, a village in Lac District, located in the central highlands.

Long is very attached to his elephants and considers them family. He is locally famous for raising elephants for community-based tourism.

What he is trying to do is to protect the few elephants left in the region amid increased poaching and a changing environment. He also works as a veterinarian for elephants.

So far he has held two funerals for his family’s elephants. “I don’t consider it’s an animal funeral. It's more like the death of a member of my family. The average elephant lives to be 80, about as long as a human," he said.


An elephant funeral

In 2005, he held the first funeral for an elephant named as Trut, who died at the age of 89.

Before the elephant died it was carrying two tourists for a tour around the village. The elephant fell, and Long thought it was ill. He did all he could to return it to health, including inviting a shaman to conduct rituals and pray for its health. He knew it was hopeless when he saw another elephant, the dying elephant's partner, kneeling down by its side for hours.

He held a funeral for Trut the next mourning and invited the entire village.

In order to protect the animal’s tomb, he built a temporary tent nearby to prevent theft.

Two years later, another elephant, Bach Kham, died.

“Previously, when an elephant died, we buried the entire body, including its tusks, which were kept above the ground as a headstone. Now thieves would steal the ivory, so we keep the tusks at home so the animals are not dug up," said Long.

Long stressed the difficulty of taking care of elephants. One is worth tens of millions of VND. When an elephant dies it not only means an economic loss but a pain for the whole family.

“I have a dream of building a cemetery for my elephants so they are not forgotten,” he added.

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