How elephant canteens can help reduce human-wildlife conflict

In the spring of 2021, a herd of prolific wild Asian elephants in China’s Yunnan province became an internet sensation, attracting the attention of the public and media around the world. They trampled on farms, villages and towns on an extraordinary 500-kilometre journey causing a lot of damage along the way.

Conservationists are working with local communities to address this problem by providing reliable food sources for elephants through a project launched by the Tropical Rainforest Conservation Foundation (TRPF).

The program, one of the projects supported by funds raised through the Tencent Foundation 99 Days of Giving Charity Campaign This year, it is designed to manage results The conflict between man and animal. Moreover, it aims to ensure benefits to the villagers through mixed use of the land which increases the productivity of the soil.

A baby boy in Yunnan Province, China.

home loss dretired animal behavior

This was followed by a discussion about the reason for emigration. Some said it was a An animal mistake by the herd leader, although most believe it was the result of environmental degradation. Either way, the case has highlighted the plight of elephants, as well as the potential for human-wildlife conflict if we do not learn to coexist with nature.

Yunnan Province is home to almost all of China’s wild elephants. Many of them live in the country’s only tropical rainforest, within nature reserves in Xishuangbanna Prefecture, near the borders with Myanmar and Laos. The creation of protected areas, along with a ban on hunting, has helped its population double to about 300 since the 1990s.

Nowadays, the main problem facing elephants is not poaching, but the destruction of their habitat and food sources due to agriculture and agriculture. Intensive and unsustainable practices have exacerbated the problem, making the land less fertile.

Dramatic actions lead to a vicious circle

Encounters between villagers and elephants are becoming increasingly common, and steps have been taken to reduce conflict by setting up early warning systems, erecting electric fences, and paying compensation for crop and property damage and losses.

These measures do not always prevent elephants from coming out of the reserves to eat the ripe crops, however, prompting some villagers to abandon traditional crops such as corn, and replace them with rubber and tea, which the elephants do not like. This turns into a downward spiral as the elephants have less food to eat, causing them to roam more.

sustainable solutions

Over the past five years, TRPF has established nearly 1,500 acres of canteens feeding elephants corn and sticks in the surrounding areas. The foundation expects more infrastructure in the future to satiate the voracious appetites of elephants.

The next phase of the project will see the creation of food banks by partially restoring traditional rotational farming methods and encouraging a return to coexistence as happened in the distant past.

A ranger feeds a baby elephant in an elephant canteen.

Using traditional farming methods

By restoring traditional farming methods that help regenerate the land, and building elephant canteens that provide animals with a variety of nutritious foods, we are helping to transform villagers from wildlife conservation victims into beneficiaries with an invested interest in the project.Success.

Farmland at the edge of the reserves has been designated to grow nutrient-rich plants suitable for elephants. Plots are reserved for this purpose for several years before they are returned to normal agricultural use, such as growing bananas and sugar cane.

More than 300 additional acres of elephant canteens have been found at the current stage. Villagers are paid 800 yuan (US$110) for each acre of land awarded to the project used for elephant feeding. It’s a good start but we need to keep investing. So far, more than 5,300 people have donated the money, which will be used mainly for subsidies and the purchase of crop seeds.

It is an important step in restoring balance and harmony between humans and nature once again.

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