China Focus: National Park tackles human-wildlife conflict

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-24 10:50:51|Editor: ZX
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XINING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- After a rampaging brown bear went on an attacking spree, Kunga, a herdsman, was killed last month in Sanjiangyuan National Park in northwest China's Qinghai Province.

Within 15 days after his death, the China Pacific Property Insurance Co. Ltd. paid his family 300,000 yuan (44,700 U.S. dollars) as part of Kunga's accident insurance. The sum is considerable since the average family income in the mountainous region is only around 20,000 yuan a year.

It was the first loss of life covered by commercial insurance in the national park's efforts to address human-animal conflicts. The park is home to 270 species of vertebrates, of which 69 are under state protection.

The management committee of Sanjiangyuan National Park bought the insurance for more than 17,000 herdsmen in October 2018, when they were hired to be the park's ecological conservators

"In addition to the loss of life, wild animals killing livestock is also a big issue in the area," said Gyushe, head of the ecological protection office of the committee.

He said the number of such conflicts has risen due to the recovery of the ecological environment and the population of rare animal species.

Last year, a snow leopard and a coyote killed over 20 yaks owned by a herdsman who lives in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

"They are beautiful wild animals and protected species. We don't want to hurt them, but we don't want to be hurt either," said Anam, the herdsman.

He said the local government has taken many measures to increase compensation to those whose livestock are killed by wild animals.

From 2012 to the end of 2017, the Qinghai provincial government had paid compensations worth of 30.5 million yuan to local people in 5,850 such cases, which mainly occurred in the Sanjiangyuan area.

The park's management committee has recently made an endeavor to team up with Beijing-based Shanshui natural protection center to set up a fund for a livestock insurance project in Sanjiangyuan.

Under the project, herdsmen pay a one-time fee of 3 yuan to insure a yak. They can get up to 1,500 yuan in compensation if their yaks are killed by wild animals.

With the compensation and insurance benefits, local herdsmen have become more and more tolerant of wildlife.

To better protect humans in the area, the local government has invited experts from institutes including Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to explore protective methods that are harmless to wild animals.

Based on their research since 2013 in Hashul Township, Yushu, the local government built a 2-meter-high solar-powered weak electric fence to protect 100 households from attacks by predators.

"More efforts are on the way to address human-animal conflicts," said Xiao Lingyun, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Nature and Society affiliated to Peking University.

He said they hope the methods can help local people reduce and avoid encounters with predators.

The Sanjiangyuan National Park started trial operation in 2016 and is set to be officially inaugurated in 2020.

Climate changes and human activities have caused environmental degradation in the water source area since the 1970s. The ecological environment has gradually recovered thanks to several protection efforts in effect since 2005 with more than 18 billion yuan of government funding.

According to the park's committee, the population of endangered snow leopards is now around 400 to 700. They have appeared in a wider area and been spotted more frequently than before.

According to an assessment report released by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2018, compared with the end of 2013, the grassland vegetation coverage in Sanjiangyuan increased by about 2 percentage points, and the forest coverage increased from 4.8 percent to 7.43 percent.