Big Elephants, Small Loans Equals A Win-Win Solution
Yunnan Province is the last habitat for China’s remaining wild elephants – a population estimated at 250 or fewer individuals. They’ve been given the highest possible protection under Chinese wildlife laws.
However, since 1992, due to the depletion of natural habitat caused by human activities, elephants have frequented villages in Pu’er and Xishuangbanna where they’ve destroyed crops and houses and injured people.
Local villagers lived in fear of these elephants and felt hostility toward them. As a result, human-elephant conflict escalated, perpetuating a vicious cycle.
IFAW stepped in to break the cycle.
We’ve developed constructive relationships with the various government departments in charge of wildlife conservation in the region.
From 1999-2003, IFAW successfully conducted a five-year project in Pu’er using micro-credit lending to enable local people to build an alternative economy, alleviating agricultural dependency on elephant habitat and reducing the impact of elephant damage on local communities.
From 2003 to 2008, IFAW extended the Asian Elephant Conservation project into the Xishuangbanna area to benefit more people and animals in the region. Over those years, IFAW has built a collaborative relationship with both local government and local people.
We conducted scientific research that helped the local nature reserve complete GIS mapping and design an elephant corridor, which makes the enlargement of elephant habitat possible in Xishuangbanna. Education programs targeting rural communities, schools and tourists helped thousands of people gain a better understanding of their elephant neighbors and the region’s rich biodiversity.