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China's Yunnan to build 'canteen' for elephants

Updated: 2013-11-25 16:51
( Xinhua)

KUNMING - Southwest China's Yunnan province plans to build a 3,900-mu (260-hectare) "canteen" for elephants, offering the animals bamboo and bananas in order to ease human-elephant conflict.

The "canteen" is planned to be built in the Simao District of Pu'er city in southern Yunnan, home to 38 wild Asian elephants.

Humans and elephants do not always live in harmony when they share a habitat. In 2012, elephants were involved in 231 incidents resulting in damage to human property and have even attacked and killed villagers, said Li Yichuan, head of Simao District's forestry bureau.

Local governments have purchased insurance since 2011 to cover damage from wild animals.

"In 2011, residents received 3.24 million yuan ($0.53 million) in compensation for damage caused by elephants. In 2012, the figure went up to 4.2 million yuan," said Li.

Li added that the government hopes to cultivate the elephants' favorite plants in the "canteen" in order to attract the wild animals to the area and away from villages.

"This way, we can make sure elephants have enough to eat and they will interfere less in local people's lives," said Li.

According to the forestry bureau, total investment for the "canteen" will amount to 2.6 million yuan. The first phase of the project involves the planting of 400 mu each of bananas and bamboo.

In the meantime, the district will impose stricter punishments on people who hunt and sell wild animals illegally in order to protect the animals.

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