Chorus of Life: Protecting endangered Asian elephants in Xishuangbanna
By Xu Mengqi
Wild Asian elephants, with a population of about 300, are under class-A protection in China. Almost all the elephants are found in China's southwestern Yunnan Province and the majority of them call Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture home.
In 2008, a breeding and rescue center was set up in Xishuangbanna to help this endangered species. Since then, the center has rescued more than 10 injured wild elephants, which were either deserted by their herds or used by humans to smuggle drugs across the border with Myanmar.
It usually takes months, even years, for the wild elephants to establish trust with their keepers.
The elephants are taken out every day for rehabilitation training so they will not get too used to human care and lose the ability to survive in the wild.
According to Shen Zhongqing, chairman of the Xishuangbanna Association of Asian Elephant Protection, in the 1960s there were only around 140 wild Asian elephants in Yunnan. But since China passed its wildlife protection law in the 1980s, which forbade poaching endangered species, the population of wild Asian elephants has more than doubled.