China’s Yunnan province makes progress in protection of Asian elephants

By Yang Wenming, Shen Jingran, People’s Daily

Last year, a wandering herd of wild elephants in southwest China’s Yunnan province went on an “exodus” and returned to their original habitat 124 days later.

The 1,400 km journey unprecedentedly made Asian elephants a focus of the world. It showcased China’s progress in the protection of wildlife, and the country’s historic achievements in biodiversity conservation.
Currently, the 15 elephants are living healthily in the Mengyang area of the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve in Yunnan province.

Yunnan province is the sole habitat for wild Asian elephants in China. Despite the drop in the total population of elephants around the world, the number of wild Asian elephants in China has increased from 180 to over 300 in the past 40 years or so.

Thanks to the province’s efforts to improve monitoring, enhance relevant research and strengthen elephant rescue and breeding, the protection of Asian elephants has been lifted onto a new level.

Veterinarian Bao Mingwei of the Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center in southwest China’s Yunnan province performs a physical examination for elephant Longlong, Aug. 11, 2021. (Photo by Li Yunsheng/People’s Daily Online)

The Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center, established in Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture in 2008, is a scientific research base aiming to better rescue and breed Asian elephants.

An elephant cub nicknamed Yangniu was sent to the center seven years ago after being abandoned by its herd. It was in a state of shock when arriving there. The little elephant’s abdominal cavity was ulcerated due to umbilical cord infection, and it was suffering a heart failure.

Yangniu gradually recovered at the center thanks to the care of the center’s staff and experts. It was fed with sheep milk every day by three sheep, said Chen Jiming, an employee of the center.

Now, Yangniu has become a star elephant that has over one million followers online.

Over the past years, the staff of the center have successfully rescued more than 20 wild Asian elephants. They often visit local schools and villages to raise people’s awareness of ecological conservation and promote the harmonious coexistence between humans and elephants.

As protection efforts continue to enhance, the habitat range of wild elephants has been expanded. Efforts such as habitat restoration and the high-quality creation of the Asian elephant national park have become necessary.

The autonomous prefecture has made a new attempt to strengthen Asian elephant protection by building food source bases near the nature reserves.

In Guanping village, Jinghong, Yunnan province, there is a food source base for Asian elephants in a rainforest where Napier grass, tiger grass and paper mulberry grow. These plants are all favored by Asian elephants.

“We spent more than two weeks building the place after it was designated as a food source base three years ago,” said Wang Xiao’an, a local forest ranger. According to him, there is an elephant 2 km away and a 16-elephant herd 8 km away. They often come to the food source base.

People feed elephants in Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous region, southwest China’s Yunnan province, Feb. 22, 2021. (Photo by Li Ming/People’s Daily Online)

Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture has so far established about 8,000 mu (533 hectares) of food source bases for Asian elephants.

Since 2021, Yunnan province has invested nearly 200 million yuan ($28 million) in the protection of Asian elephants and their habitats. In July 2021, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and Yunnan’s provincial government jointly proposed to build a national park for Asian elephants. The national park also aims to protect rainforests and alleviate the conflict between humans and elephants, said the province’s forestry and grassland bureau.

Recently, Yunnan province issued a guideline on strengthening the protection of biodiversity. The document reaffirmed the determination to build the national park for Asian elephants, and said the province would accelerate the optimization work of nature reserves and timely amend relevant laws and regulations.

Besides, Yunnan province also subsidizes farmers living in the regions that overlap elephants’ habitats, and growers of collectively-owned commercial forests will get compensation once their trees are trampled by elephants. The win-win move will help increase local residents’ income and better protect the Asian elephants, said Dao Jianhong, deputy head of the forestry and grassland bureau of Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous region.

Please Comment
© 2018
Designed by Zookti