KUNMING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Environmental workers in southwest China's Yunnan Province have opened a number of "canteens" for wild Asian elephants to reduce conflicts between villagers and the endangered animal.
This year, staff from Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve have created a total of around 100 hectares of the elephant's favorite food, such as bamboo and paper mulberry, in three different sites.
On July 5, a canteen has received its latest guests -- 20 Asian elephants. They enjoyed their meal, which lasted around two hours.
In Pu'er City, more than 253 hectares of sugarcane, bananas and maize have been planted for the elephants.
Authorities hope the open-air canteens can help draw elephants away from human settlements to prevent conflicts between the animal and villagers.
The wild Asian elephant is an endangered species. In China, the animals mainly live in Xishuangbanna, Pu'er and Lincang in Yunnan. The population of the species in China has grown from over 170 in the 1990s to around 300 today.
"The canteens provide a safe place for elephants to munch on food plants far away from villages where they might come into conflict with humans. Fewer elephants seek food in village crop fields now," said Wang Bin, a senior engineer from the nature reserve.