KUNMING: An eight-member team from the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve has concluded a joint field study on endangered Asian elephants with their Laotian counterparts.
The survey, which took place from Wednesday to Monday, helped determine range and population of wild Asian elephants in two counties of Luang Namtha Province, Laos, according to Zhang Zhongyuan, head of the office of the China-Laos cross-border biodiversity joint protection program.
This was the fifth joint mission since the office was set up in 2006.
Asian elephants often wander along both sides of the 680-km-long China-Laos border in Xishuangbanna, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, Zhang said.
“Our experience in preventing and handling elephant attacks, including stolen or damaged crops and human injuries, can benefit our friends in Laos,” Zhang said.
According to Yunnan’s forestry authorities, more than 48,000 cases of wild elephants causing chaos were reported in Yunnan from 2011 to 2015, resulting in 18 deaths, 27 injuries and economic losses of about 99 million yuan (15 million U.S. dollars). The government has compensated the families of the victims more than 98 million yuan.
Wild Asian elephants are a Class A protected animal in China, with the species mainly located in Yunnan’s Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and the cities of Pu’er and Lincang.
China’s efforts to protect the ecosystem have helped wild elephant numbers grow from less than 180 in the 1990s to about 300 currently, but the animals are still facing extinction.
This month’s survey came less than a month after another survey on endangered wild animals and plants was conducted at a nature reserve in Luang Namtha.
In a survey last year, Chinese researchers captured images of a rare leopard, the first such finding on the China-Laos border.
In 2009, China and Laos put an area of 55,000 hectares on the border under joint protection and gradually expanded the zones to 220,000 hectares by 2012.
Joint protection improves ecosystem management in border areas and is conducive to conservation of biodiversity, said Yang Yuming from Yunnan Academy of Forestry.