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Rangers struggle to control elephant's highway rampages

By Xinhua in Kunming (China Daily) Updated: 2016-02-18 08:30

Forest rangers and police in Southwest China's Yunnan province are struggling to control a wild elephant that has sprung three attacks on parked cars on a major highway in four days.

The animal's latest rampage on the G213 highway linking Yunnan with Northwest China's Gansu province occurred on Monday afternoon, when it damaged nine cars, forest police in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna prefecture said.

The elephant, nicknamed Zhusunya ("Bamboo Shoot Teeth"), crushed or damaged almost 20 cars on the highway on Friday and Sunday. There have been no casualties from its sorties, near the Yexianggu (Wild Elephant Valley) nature reserve.

After receiving an alert from the reserve at 4:40 pm on Monday, police officers closed the affected section of the highway, guided traffic and evacuated tourists.

The lone male elephant returned to the nearby woods at about 11 pm. It may have been angry over a lost fight for a mate, local elephant protection workers said.

The rise in the number of people in the animal's habitat during Spring Festival holiday may also have provoked it, forest police said.

Xishuangbanna has special passageways for elephants on many roads, but they must cross the highway that divides the eastern and western parts of the reserve.

During Spring Festival, traffic on the G213 peaked and many tourists illegally parked their cars on the roadside, police said. Visitors to the reserve have also been advised to go by bus instead of private cars.

Members of staff at the reserve told Xinhua that local authorities have deployed animal specialists to track the whereabouts of wild elephants, and will warn tourists and villagers once they find any elephants moving to the main road.

Wild Asian elephants are a nationally protected species in China, with fewer than 300 of them in the country.

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