IFAW China Educates Locals on Asian Elephant Protection

Wednesday, 18 January, 2006
Xishuangbanna, Yunnan China
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) and its local partner, Xishuangbanna* National Nature Reserve Management Authority co-sponsored a Gatangpa* festival in Bala village in Southwest China. Thousands of participants learned about the threats to Asian elephants and solutions to human-elephant conflict.
Xishuangbanna, the last remaining rainforest in China, is home to 200 Asian elephants. Unfortunately, human development including farming and deforestation is creating human-elephant conflict in the region.

“I know elephants have lived around us for many years. They sometimes come down and eat our crops. My mom told me they killed one of the villagers because he was trying to hurt them,” said the 24-year-old Hani girl, Sangfin.

China’s Wild Animal Protection Law provides compensation for crop damages caused by elephants, but it is not always enough to prevent elephant deaths.   “To address human-elephant conflicts, IFAW introduced the Asian Elephant Protection Project in Simao, Yunan five years ago,” said IFAW’s Dr. Zhang Li.

“The project was a success because it provided a solution to benefit humans and elephants allowing the local community to live in peace with wildlife.”

IFAW’s piloting scientific research has been conducted in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve (XNNR) for two years and the current work will provide significant data and evidence in guiding future community development and education sessions.
“Initiating community affairs through gradual education with respect to indigenous culture is an applicable way to protect wildlife in rural communities and adjusting rural economic structure can be a way of advancing dwellers’ living standard and awareness for elephant protection,” said Huang Jianguo, the deputy director of the management authority of XNNR.

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