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China's Yunnan improves compensation mechanism for wildlife-caused losses


Southwest China's Yunnan Province, one of the country's most important treasure houses of biodiversity, has improved the mechanism whereby residents are compensated for damage caused by wild animals, as part of an effort to better promote biodiversity protection.


Known as a "kingdom of plants and animals," Yunnan is an ecological security barrier in southwestern China. The province has always incorporated biodiversity protection in its overall economic and social development, and made great efforts to meet high standards for biodiversity protection.

A draft of compensation measures for damage caused by terrestrial wildlife was published on April 30 to seek comments. Grassroots staff and wildlife monitors visited households in various villages to solicit ideas and learn about the needs of local people. Relevant laws have been improved to promote the harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

How does the compensation system work?

A group of 21 Asian elephants were recently monitored around Dashujiao Village, Jiangcheng Hani and Yi Autonomous County in Pu'er City, Yunnan. As soon as they were spotted in the village, monitors issued an on-site warning to villagers, which could also be sent through an online monitoring platform.

The warning was lifted after the elephants walked into the forest, but the animals had caused havoc for about an hour in and around the village, damaging rice plants, which were about to start head sprouting.

"The elephants ate some of the rice plants and damaged some others. Starting from 2022, we have substantially increased crop compensation. The previous compensation was only 800 yuan per mu (about $1,600 per hectare), but now it has been greatly increased. If the crops are mature, we now have compensation of more than 1,500 yuan per mu (about $3,000 per hectare)," said Diao Faxing, an elephant monitor in Jiangcheng County.

Wildlife protection involves not only protecting habitats, but also reducing property losses. With the continuous improvement in protection measures, a corresponding property loss compensation mechanism has also been established.

"We have a mobile application specially developed for compensation. After measuring the damage, we will determine the aggregate amount of compensation. If we have measured the damage today, the compensation will be paid to villagers in a week," said Diao.

In October 2021, Yunnan released 20 local standards for the protection of three endemic wild animals: Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys, Asian elephants and green peafowls, filling in gaps in the province's wildlife protection standards.

In order to protect the peacock population and their habitat, Shuangbai County in Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture expanded the protected area to 17,534 hectares and conducted habitat restoration work.

"Protecting the flagship species of green peafowls means protecting their river valley habitat. This is very important for maintaining the stability of the ecological environment in the river valley," said Wu Fei, an associate researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

With the Yunnan Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan 2024-2030 released on May 21, the province will step up its efforts to promote the positive interaction between biodiversity conservation and green economic and social development.

(Cover: A Yunnan snub-nosed monkey. /CFP)

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