Across China: Wild elephant's "hit and run" in Yunnan

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-27 21:50:01|Editor: ZX
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KUNMING, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- When a panicking Wang tried to run away from a wild Asian elephant, she was rolled up by the mammal's trunk and lifted off the ground. She grabbed a tusk and screamed, scaring the elephant away.

Wang, a resident of Jinghong City in southwest China's Yunnan Province, was attacked by the male elephant on Wednesday morning near the Wild Elephant Valley, a tourist attraction in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, according to the local public security bureau.

"I was picking vegetables in my field, when the elephant ran towards me all of a sudden," Wang said.

After Wang scared the elephant away, she painfully crawled to a highway 10 meters away, stopped a passing car and went back home. Her husband later called police, and sent her to a hospital. Her injuries are not life-threatening, according to doctors.

Wang is the latest victim to suffer an attack from the wild species in Yunnan. Last year, a villager was injured by a wild Asian elephant while picking mushrooms. The same year, a wild elephant walked through the city of Pu'er for about six hours before heading back into the forest, while a man was trampled to death by another wild elephant in Xishuangbanna.

Wild Asian elephants, with a population of about 300 in China, are under Class A protection. In China, they are mainly found in Yunnan.

With stronger environmental and wildlife protection efforts, the number of wild Asian elephants in China has grown in recent years.

"Enhanced protection has led to a rise in the number of the mammals in recent years," said Bao Mingwei, an elephant doctor. "In the 1990s, only about 180 wild Asian elephants were living in China, but now the population is estimated to exceed 300."

However, according to the provincial forestry bureau, wild elephants caused 32 deaths and 159 injuries from 2011 to 2017.

"Population growth, reclamation expansion and a decrease of habitats for wild elephants are the primary causes of the conflicts," said Chen Mingyong, a professor at Yunnan University.

The simple digestive system of Asian elephants makes them hungry often. They have to eat about 300 kg of plants every day. "If the forests can't meet their needs, they risk stepping into farmland to fill their bellies," Chen said.

Since 2014, Yunnan has purchased commercial insurance for residents of the province. The government pays the premiums and insurance companies compensate residents if wild animals attack them.