Locals in Yunnan trained on Asian elephant awareness

Residents advised on how to deal with mammals if they enter inhabited areas

By CHEN LIANG in Mengla, Yunnan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-28 08:40
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Ma Chenyue and Chen Meng shake hands for a cooperative project in Mengla on March 10. CHINA DAILY

Why Mengla?

Mengla county is one of the most important habitats for Asian elephants in the country, according to Ma, with approximately 130 wild Asian elephants populated there.

"The population of wild Asian elephants has increased from about 80 in the 1980s," said Chen Meng, director of Mengla's forestry and grassland bureau's nature reserve administrative department.

Due to improved conservation efforts over the years and an increased environmental consciousness among the populace, Chen said the elephants' population has continued to grow, the range of their activities is expanding and many communities that had never experienced elephant activities before are now faced with having to deal with roaming herds.

Asian elephants can grow up to 9 feet tall and weigh 5 metric tons.

Many of the animals have grown accustomed to human presence and encounters, leading to heightened conflicts between the two.

To significantly reduce safety incidents and conflict between elephants and humans, he said the local government established an Asian elephant monitoring team in December 2019. Comprising 16 members, the team is tasked with monitoring the activities of wild Asian elephants across the six townships in the county where elephants are present.

The team operates in subgroups, with two members partnering up to utilize drones for continuous surveillance of wild elephant movements. Data on the elephants, including their locations, group sizes and behaviors, is relayed to the bureau. Subsequently, the information is disseminated to local communities and residents through various channels such as radio, loudspeakers or mobile messaging. A centralized warning system is under construction, he said.

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