(1 April 2021, Yunnan, China) -
Today marks the launch of China’s first of its kind Community Hero Network. This ranger-led initiative is dedicated to significantly reduce human elephant conflicts in the Jinghong area in Yunnan, China.
Bordering with Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, Yunnan is the last remaining habitat for a population of about 300 wild Asian elephants in China. In recent years, elephant movement has been gradually expanding to regions where there had been no Asian elephant presence for decades, leading to an increase in human elephant conflicts and sometimes even to fatalities.
Since March 2020, a group of 18 elephants moved out of the Xishuangbanna Natural Reserve area into community land of Jinghong, where residents have no experience in co-living with elephants, leading to several casualties and causing severe damage to property in a short period of time.
In collaboration with the government of Jinghong, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) will support equipment and supplies needed for elephant movement monitoring and provide trainings to more than 50 local rangers on techniques for conducting human elephant conflict (HEC) mitigation. The rangers will then provide tailored and in-depth human elephant safety trainings to villagers of all the seven counties of Jinghong.
“Community Hero is one of the most important initiatives under our collaboration with Jinghong government partner,” said Dafan CAO, project lead of Asian Elephant Protection (AEP) project who has almost 20 years’ experience in HEC mitigation. “Rangers who work and live closely with local communities can provide timely and need-based support to local residents. We hope they will not only enhance human elephant safety but also become ambassadors for conservation of elephants and their habitats which we also depend on.”
Note to the editor:
In 2021, IFAW signed a five year MOU with Jinghong Forestry and Grassland Bureau and has provided urgently needed trainings and conflict mitigation methods since the first human elephant conflict occurred in this region.
IFAW has a long presence in the region dating back to 1999 when it first helped establish the Asian Elephant Protection (AEP) project. For more than 20 years IFAW has been safeguarding human-elephant co-existence in China. As Asian elephants’ habitats increasingly overlap with areas of human development, elephant activities inevitably collide with local people. IFAW has been enhancing human elephant safety by supporting elephant movement monitoring and warning system as well as conducting HEC prevention trainings.