Forest officials in Yunnan Province have come up with a novel idea for reducing elephant and human conflicts. To try and reduce the conflict between local residents and 48 wild Asian elephants in the Simao District of Pu’er city the forest department is planning on developing a 2.6 million yuan (£250,000) area planted with banana plants and bamboo.
Local authorities since 2011 have had to buy insurance in order to compensate villagers who lost property and crops. Villagers have also been killed by the elephants.
Last year in 2012 there was 231 incidents of damage to buildings and some villagers were also attacked with a few being killed.
The new area will cover 260 hectares and will be planted with the elephants favourite foods. the officials hope that the elephants will prefer to eat in the peace of the park rather than destroy crops and cause problems.
Li Yichuan, head of Simao District’s forestry bureau said, “In 2011, residents received 3.24 million yuan ($0.53 million) in compensation for damage caused by elephants. In 2012, the figure went up to 4.2 million yuan. This way, we can make sure elephants have enough to eat and they will interfere less in local people’s lives.”
Work has begun on the first stage of the ‘elephant restaurant’ which involves the planting of 25 hectares of banana trees and another 25 hectares of bamboo.
As well as investing in the new plantations the local authorities have announced that people who attack or kill the elephants will be subjected to stronger punishments.
photo credit: Asian elephant by Yathin S Krishnappa