China / Society

Leniency urged in wild elephant killing case

( Updated: 2015-07-23 15:50

Leniency urged in wild elephant killing case

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge meets a rescued elephant at the Xishuangbanna Elephant Sanctuary in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China's Yunnan province, on March 4, 2015. [Photo/CFP]

The detention of a villager in Southwest China for killing a wild Asian elephant that intruded into his home has sparked controversy, with many voices urging leniency in the case.

The villager, surnamed Wang, allegedly opened fire with a homemade gun on a group of intruding wild elephants early on Sunday in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.

One female elephant was later found dead in Wang's fish pond, with a bullet in its head. It was carrying a male calf and was about to give birth soon, authorities said.

Wang told police he yelled, hoping to scare the elephants away, but to no avail.

The villager's detention raised debate on China's Twitter-like Weibo.

"Wild animals are protected by the law, but what can protect humans in such a case?" a Weibo user said.

"The wild animal conservation law obviously needs to be improved in accordance with changing times," another commented.

Wild Asian elephants are an endangered species under protection by the Chinese government. About 250 to 300 roam in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna, Puer and Lincang.

But wild elephants often intrude on villages, damaging crops and even attacking humans. This year alone, three people died after being attacked by wild elephants and several others were injured, the local forestry department said.

Last month another villager was killed and his wife injured by wild Asian elephants while working in farmlands in the region.

The villager's killing of the elephant is by no means equivalent to illegal hunting, although the act did break the law, said an opinion piece by China Youth Daily. If it is proved he had no choice but to shoot the animal, the villager shall not be charged.

The number of elephants has been growing without expansion of their conservation area and this is the key reason behind the increasing clashes between humans and elephants, the newspaper said.

To solve the problem in the long run, the government has to expand the natural conservation area, but at the same time find a good way to let villagers settle down in another area.

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