There are three species of elephant worldwide: the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant and the Asian elephant. African elephants are found across the African continent throughout the savanna zones of the Sahara desert and into the forests of central and West Africa.

Asian elephants range from the Iranian coastlines of west Asia to as far East as the Yangtze river in China. Now, however, only scattered populations remain throughout South and Southeast Asian countries. At the turn of the 20th century, there were a few million African elephants and about 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, their wild population has remarkably dropped to 350,000-500,000 in Africa and 25,000 - 33,000 in Asia, largely due to the massive illicit poaching for ivory trade. The Asian elephant is considered endangered by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1986. In 2017, it is estimated that there are about 100 wild elephant individuals in Viet Nam, 70 of which focus in the YoK Don National Park.


Poaching is the major threat to population sustainability for elephants across the world. Elephants are hunted for the ivory trade across the globe and Viet Nam is recognized as being a large consumer of ivory products as well as a major transit hub for distribution throughout Asia. In Viet Nam, most ivory is produced into jewellery, sculptures and religious artifacts.

What are we doing?

WCS Viet Nam works with the Vietnamese government agencies to build capacity and inform policy which enables effective oversight of wildlife trade activities. We conduct research on crime syndicates, locations of illegal wildlife sale/production, smuggling routes which can help local law enforcement agencies with their investigations and arrests.

We work closely with law enforcement agencies at national and local level including police and ranger and provide them technical assistance such as intelligence, species identification, legal advices to target to high-level criminal network on ivory trade.


Choudhury, A., Lahiri Choudhury, D.K., Desai, A., Duckworth, J.W., Easa, P.S., Johnsingh, A.J.T., Fernando, P., Hedges, S., Gunawardena, M., Kurt, F., Karanth, U., Lister, A., Menon, V., Riddle, H., Rübel, A. & Wikramanayake, E. (IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group). 2008. Elephas maximus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 07 July 2017.