Yunnan insures farmers against wild elephant attacks (China)


China Times

Date Published
More trees and improved ecology have made southwest China’s Yunnan province an ideal habitat for wild animals, but at a cost.

A villager from Jiangcheng in the city of Pu’er was killed by an Asian elephant at his rubber plantation on Saturday, local authorities revealed on Monday, adding that it was the second human death caused by a wild elephant in the past few weeks.

The victim’s son Zhao Shenggang said an elephant rushed at him and his father at the plantation. He managed to escape, but his father died.

In March, another farmer named Zhang Defen from the same village was trampled to death by an elephant while farming.

“While a better environment has attracted more wildlife, human and economic losses have increased year on year,” said Xia Liuchang, deputy head of the Forestry Department of Yunnan on Monday.

China’s ecological improvement has led to better conditions for wild animals. Eighteen Asian elephants were found in Pu’er for the first time in 2011. The number increased to 43 in March this year.

However, these wild elephants take farmers’ crops as food, damage trees, houses and pose a risk to local people’s lives.

Harming Asian elephants is illegal, as they are included on the list of animals under state protection.

According to Chinese law, the local government should compensate victims for relevant losses caused by wild animals. However, as most local governments have no compensation standards or specific budget allocation for the damage, enforcement has been poor.

In order to ease human-wildlife conflicts, Yunnan will extend its commercial insurance that compensates for wildlife caused losses to the whole province and allocate special funds to purchase this insurance for people, the Forestry Department of the province said.

“This mechanism is more effective with higher compensation, timely investigation and accurate valuation of losses,” said Xia Liuchang.

He said Yunnan has compensated for more than 400,000 cases of losses caused by wildlife with over 170 million yuan (US$27 million). In 2014, the provincial financial department will allocate funds of more than 45 million yuan (US$7.2 million) to buy wildlife insurance for local people.

According to the official statistics, 1,324 deaths and about 390 million yuan (US$67.3 million) of property losses were caused by wild animals from 2005 to 2013 in Yunnan, especially in poverty-stricken areas.

Since 2010, Yunnan began to purchase commercial insurance for people in pilot regions. The government pays insurance and companies investigate and compensate people when wild animals cause trouble.