Conservationists celebrate as baby elephant passes the 100 day mark

Friday, March 25, 2011
Pu’er, Yunnan, China
Conservationists celebrated further success of a unique elephant rehabilitation project in China this week, as a calf born to an Asian elephant herd in China successfully passed its first 100 days healthy and safe from threats or danger.

The calf was born in December to a herd protected in the Pu’er region of Yunnan Province, China, by IFAW’s Asian Elephant Conservation Project (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org). Yunnan Province is in the south-west of China, bordering Burma and Vietnam.

“We’re jubilant,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW Asian Regional Director, who established the project more than a decade ago. “When we started (this project) human activity had led to a sharp decline in elephant habitat, and a consequent increase in human-elephant conflict. The birth of this calf shows that innovative approaches can change attitudes towards elephants.”

The IFAW Asian Elephant Conservation Project sets up community development funds, helping farmers find alternative ways of generating income and reducing pressure on elephant habitat.

“Since we started these projects, many communities have become the protectors of elephants and no longer their persecutors,” said Ge Gabriel.

Meng Kuang village, in Pu’er, where the calf was born is the site of one of the monitoring stations of the project. The birth of the calf brings to 43 the number of elephants in the region while, in total, no more than 300 Asian elephants roam free in China.

The calf was born on 13th December and monitors in the area immediately went into action to inform villagers of the new addition to the family of 10, and to ensure the safety of both elephants and local residents. The calf and family were recently spotted at Meng Kuang about 100 days after its birth.

Wen Lu, Head of Conservation for the Pu’er Forestry Bureau, said the project had enabled the Pu’er region to develop a detailed elephant activity database.

“This allows us to better manage Asian elephant conservation activities, while the monitoring network and early warning system helps prevent confrontation and injuries or even death of both villagers and elephants,” he said. “With conflict reduced, people are more willing to share space with elephants”.

“The calf is the sixth addition to this elephant family,” said project co-ordinator Dafo Cao. “We hope this elephant will grow up strong and its family will prosper on this land we all share.”

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