October 24, 2021


From native P.o.V.

The elephant was tired from walking and fell asleep obediently

14 min read
The elephant was tired from walking and fell asleep obediently.

As of 16:50 on June 7, the elephant group continued to rest in a small area in Xiyang Township, Jinning District, Kunming City, and their migration was suspended. According to reports from ground tracking and monitoring personnel, an outlier male elephant is located northeast of the elephant group, with a straight-line distance of about 4 kilometers, and the elephant is safe. With continuous thunderstorms in Xiyang Township, the on-site headquarters monitored and deployed two points simultaneously, making monitoring and tracking more difficult.

Photo courtesy of Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade

The provincial-level headquarters requires strengthening on-site monitoring, grasping the movements of elephants and outliers, in-depth analysis, and careful research and judgment. The on-site offices surveyed the surrounding geographic environment and detailed information of the villages. At the same time, it dispatched multiple monitoring and tracking teams and coordinated the provincial forest fire brigade to continue to send eight more people to support drone monitoring and the open space combined with the target group to carry out 24-hour non-stop Monitoring, ground tracking of stray elephants’ activity trajectory, and grasping the latest trends.

Photo courtesy of Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade


Photo courtesy of Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade


Photo courtesy of Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade

On the same day, the on-site headquarters deployed more than 410 emergency response personnel and police personnel, dispatched 60 muck trucks, 64 other emergency vehicles, and 14 UAVs, advised more than 150 vehicles to return, fed 2 tons of elephant food, and evacuated the masses. , To ensure the safety of the masses and elephants along the way. Implement temporary traffic control on some road sections, keep quiet, and create conditions for guiding the elephant group to migrate west and south.

Photo courtesy of Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade


The elephant moves north. What are we most worried about?
Is constantly feeding pineapples and bananas, will there be a problem?
How to protect and avoid being infected by elephants?

Recently, a reporter from Xinmin Evening News interviewed Guo Xianming, director of the Science Research Institute of the Reserve, at the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve Management Bureau. He answered some of the questions that everyone in the northern elephant herd is concerned about. In 1989, he came here in the third year of establishing the Management and Protection Bureau and worked for 32 years.

Photo courtesy of Yunnan Provincial Forest Fire Brigade (the same below)



Problems in moving north

Two elephant herds are migrating now, one is northward, and the other is southward. Although the elephant group going south has also left the scope of the reserve, we have been tracking its trajectory and sending out early warning messages to the surrounding villages every day. For the elephant group going north, we also sent a 10-person working group. Since it arrived in Eshan County, it has been assisting the headquarters in carrying out monitoring work. But no one knows when they will come back. We also hope that they will come back as soon as possible because the longer they stay outside, it is not suitable for people and elephants. In a casualty accident, we have no idea whether extreme measures will be taken against these elephants. What we are most worried about now is casualties. We also have local people who have been dealing with elephants for a long time and the know-how to deal with them, but the people in Yuxi and Kunming don’t know.

Is there any way to make the elephant turn around? Our Management and Protection Bureau has never made these plans, nor have we heard of them. Some headquarters will listen to the opinions of our working group, and there are staff members from Ye Xianggu who have been dealing with this group of elephants. Maybe the headquarters will also negotiate with them.

In Xishuangbanna, Asian elephants can eat a lot of food. In Kunming, I don’t know how many kinds of plants are its food, so they still often visit the people’s land. The elephants that go south are usually in the people’s pineapple, banana, and cornfields. It’s not a big problem to get enough of these foods, but the elephants are very mixed, and different foods have different effects on their body functions. Suppose you only eat three or five kinds of food for a long time, and they are all artificially domesticated, with high sugar content and high calories. Willelephants suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure like humans? This is all to be studied.

Drones will make sounds, especially the first time they see a herd of drones. They will be terrified. When the drones fly overhead, they will run around. After seeing it a few times, it has no fear of drones. We also encountered elephants who saw the drone flying above their heads. They used their noses to roll up the branches on the ground and threw them into the air to attack the drones. Man-machine.

The elephant herd going north is being monitored by drones 24 hours a day. I don’t think it’s a good idea either. The drone and hundreds of people, following it all day, their mood may be furious, they may not even have time to sleep, even if they sleep, they can’t sleep well. “If it goes on for such a long time, it may be frantic to collapse.” If they go to the woods, they should let them rest for a while, don’t keep staring at them. We discipline the elephant that likes to cause trouble. As long as it goes to the forest, we don’t care. Otherwise, it will be stared at for 24 hours, and the elephant will not be able to stand it.

I saw the news that the elephant had eaten 200 kilograms of lees, so I said it must be false news. It takes a day for an adult elephant to eat 200 patties. The report says that it can’t eat so much at a time. The baby elephant’s appetite is not that big. In addition, it is unlikely to like the distiller’s grains. You went to the site to check it and proved that it was false, but it is still being mistransmitted online.

There is a question to be made clear. Whether it is our protected area or the habitat of the Asian elephant, it is our subjective will to set this area for wild animals. Still, for such a large animal, It thinks that wherever it has food and is suitable for survival, it will find it as its habitat. It is also unrealistic for us to impose human will on Asian elephants.

The northward migration of elephants is a trend. Around 1997, a family of five elephants moved to Pu’er. It was the first time that a group of elephants entered the territory of Pu’er. Since then, they have been active in the area. Later, the elephants in Xishuangbanna gradually moved north, and more elephants The group enters Pu’er. But they always go back and forth between Pu’er and Xishuangbanna, and they haven’t traveled too far.

Therefore, this time 15 Asian elephants went to Jinggu County in Pu’er City, which aroused our vigilance, “Why did these elephants go so far?” Guo Xianming said some elephants went so far before, but that was Lonely.

“This time, the elephants moved northward, I think one reason is the natural spread of the population, and the other is to find a new habitat.” At first, we thought it was a food problem, but now it feels that it may be more than just-food. The food richness in these areas where it is now walking may not be as high as ours.

The Asian elephants in Xishuangbanna have grown slowly from more than 170 in the 1980s and 1990s to more than 300. When its population grows to a certain extent, it may gradually spread outward from the nature of wild animals. , Looking for some new environment suitable for its growth.

However, population diffusion cannot wholly say that Xishuangbanna cannot accommodate so many elephants. Without this basis, the population will expand to a certain extent in animal instincts and behaviors, and it will spread outward. This is a natural diffusion process.

In addition to food, its habitat must have water sources. Asian elephants prefer to play in water; minerals are also necessary, that is, salt. Animals and humans are the same. If they don’t eat salt for three days, they can’t stand it. Elephants eat salt. Sugar; fourth, there must be a hidden place. With these factors, it is a better habitat.

For Asian elephants, other conditions are required, such as the habitat should not be too small, and it cannot be on a steep slope. The general pitch that can go up and down is about 30 degrees. This kind of slope can walk normally. It is more difficult to walk if it exceeds it. Its favorite pitch is below 10 degrees. If it exceeds it, it is not particularly liked. There is also altitude. Asian elephants generally live below 1000 meters above sea level. They can be seen occasionally at 1300 meters. It is rare to exceed this altitude. This time it is entirely beyond our imagination. Now they are located at more than 2000 meters. Up.

Some people say that elephants will turn around because of the cold temperature in Kunming. However, historically, Asian elephants are not very cold-tolerant, nor do they grow entirely in the tropics. They can withstand typical climates.

We have always hoped to conduct environmental research on the carrying capacity of Asian elephants, but it is relatively tricky. This has to be analyzed from the feeding characteristics of Asian elephants. In Xishuangbanna, the Asian elephant eats more than 400 kinds of food, but it is very picky about what part it eats. For example, wild pepper only consumes the core, and 100 kg of pepper, it can eat only one or two kilograms; Bamboo, it loves to eat, but it only eats the tender ones, not the old ones, only the bamboo leaves, but not the bamboo poles. So, how much food can be eaten in 100 acres of land? It isn’t easy to calculate. And the food is different in different seasons. It isn’t straightforward for us to calculate the carrying capacity based on these factors.


Living space problem

It is said that rubber planting in reserve violated the habitat of animals. This has been heard a lot recently. The protected area covers an area of ​​3.6 million mu. It is state-owned and contains some villages. Since 1983, it has been divided into collective forests, self-retained mountains, and paddy fields. These are allocated to ordinary people. It does not belong to the scope of the protected area. The ordinary people, we can’t control what the familiar people cast.

In the past, people’s land did not grow rubber but was used to cultivate food in rotation. When there was no food in rotation, small shrubs and grasses would grow in the fields. Many of them were food for Asian elephants. They could quickly come here. Feed. There are many kinds of rubber trees on these lands, which are an essential source of income for ordinary people. If the rubber forests are not carefully managed, the grasses that Asian elephants love will grow among the woods. Gradually move away from here, go to some places that are not rubber forests, and you will slowly go out. In recent years, the price of rubber has been relatively low. Ordinary people do not like to manage rubber forests, so they grow a lot of food that elephants love to eat. The elephants that went south to the Botanical Garden have recently stayed in Menghai for half a year.

The elephant eats grass and does not eat wild fruits. The better the forest, the less grass, and the denser the forest is empty. On the contrary, where the forest is sparse, there are relatively more herbs and shrubs under the forest. The protected area has been developed for so many years, and management has been strengthened. The trees have grown bigger and bigger, the woods have become denser, and the edible understory plants have gradually decreased. After we manage it, it is no longer suitable for the growth of herbaceous plants.

The “Forest Law” has also made some changes. To protect wild animals and have good habitat, the habitats of some specific species can be adequately restored. “We are also applying to consider cleaning up the vegetation in some areas where elephants were frequent in the past so that understory herbs and shrubs can grow out.

In addition, the reserve is divided into many small pieces. We are also considering the opening of the migration corridors between each other. The rubber forests planted by the people in the aisles should not be carefully managed so that the grass that elephants love to grow out will compensate the people a little.

The proportion of elephants eating things from ordinary people’s land is very high. Of course, it depends on different elephant herds and different regions. Elephants outside the reserve mostly eat sugarcane and corn from ordinary people. Some elephants may eat what is in the forest during the day and eat what is planted by ordinary people at night. In general, the proportion of elephants entering the fields of ordinary people to eat is gradually increasing.

The compensation to ordinary people is still minimal. Initially, it was government funding, and our unit compensated the people. For example, it might be 5 million a year, but the people’s loss is 10 million, so we will make up for it on a pro-rata basis. In 2009, we bought insurance for Asian elephants. In 2011, we bought insurance for wild animals in the National Forest Park. All losses caused by their destruction will be covered by insurance. “Compared with the previous amount of compensation, it is still larger than the market price, probably only one-third or one-quarter, and the intensity is still relatively small.” Moreover, this is only a direct loss to the people, an indirect loss. Did not consider it. For example, elephants enter the rubber forest during the rubber tapping season and stay for half a month. No one dares to tap rubber. And the elephant does not knock down a rubber tree, and the insurance will not compensate. There are also tea gardens, especially in the spring tea picking season, where the time is only a short period. Once the season is over, the price of tea drops a lot. Elephants are active in it, and they cannot pick tea. “These indirect losses may be higher than the direct losses, which may cost hundreds or thousands of yuan a day.”


Personal safety issues

When thinking that it might be attacked, it is the easiest to get angry; the male elephant is also very dangerous during the estrus period, and the distance between tens of meters and hundreds of meters may attack the threat it feels. There are also elephants with baby elephants. Groups are very easily irritated. Elephants have a strong awareness of protecting young elephants. Also, don’t watch or drive them away. They will have a rebellious mentality. We have all encountered these situations. When an elephant is about to attack a person, his nose will rise immediately, and his ears will stand up. When a male elephant is in heat, a lot of fluid will flow out from the glands in the front of the ears, and people with good noses can smell strange smells.

There is another characteristic of Asian elephants. In Xishuangbanna, many elephants hate dogs so much that they must be trampled to death when they see a dog. We have encountered several incidents of elephant killings and finally discovered that they were all caused by dogs. “It’s very clear from the video that the dog barks, and the elephant passes by. It would be best if you found a way to kill the dog. As soon as the dog is chasing the dog, the dog must run to the owner, and the elephant may kill the owner. Up.”

Once, when I was using a drone, I saw something like this in the lens. It was the group of elephants that were heading south. In Menghai Town, a dog was barking. As a result, all the 17 elephants walked in the direction of the dog. The dog found danger and ran away quickly.

In the 1990s, we also met the elephant face to face. At that time, it was 30-50 meters away. It chased us symbolically. Once we retreated, it stopped chasing. Later it was considered to be 100 meters. We know of some people who the elephant chased. The distance between him and the elephant was far more than this, and later it increased to 200 meters. “But now I think 200 meters is not safe.” We had encountered two or three times when we used drones to monitor elephants. The drones can fly two or three kilometers away. We saw the elephants two or three kilometers away. Going in this direction, I didn’t even think of what happened at first, but I finally reacted as if it was coming towards us. Maybe it saw that the drone was flying in this direction, and it was about to reach the point where it took off. “It came in a trot. It was a lone elephant. When we reacted, we got in the car and closed the door immediately. The car had just started, and the elephant had arrived.” So, I dare not say what the safety distance is now.

Walking from the forest to the outside of the Asian elephant, its habits have changed a lot from the traditional.

In the past, the behavior of Asian elephants was the opposite of that of humans. When humans are active, elephants do not come out. They only come out after people rest. This may be because they have adapted to human activities. People are afraid of elephants, and elephants are also scared of people. This is why elephants were rarely seen in the past. There was a lot of food in reserve in the past, which met its needs, and there was no need for it to come out. When there was less food, it was like avoiding people to get enough food, so there was such a pattern of activities.

In the past, we thought it looked like a nocturnal animal, but now, it moves day and night. Like a day’s activity time, maybe 18 hours, only 4 hours of sleep. Currently, there are more and more elephants seen during the day. It may be that it has less and less fear of people. The villagers used to have shotguns in their hands, but now that they don’t have them, they are less and less afraid of people. They will come out during the day and night.

People used gongs and drums to drive elephants in the earliest days, but after a short period, it was useless. Later, firecrackers were set off, but the effect was more straightforward. The next step is to set off fireworks, where the elephant is placed in the opposite direction. It worked at first, but later even if you set it off again, the elephant will attack you. It is brilliant, with an IQ equivalent to a five- or six-year-old child, and soon adapts. The elephant’s memory is also excellent. Someone said that the elephant was lost this time, but we disagreed with it. It doesn’t know the way forward, but it must know the way back.

We used the electric fence, but we didn’t use it again after we knew it after hitting it a few times. Now the people themselves are also building small bars, and there is no prohibition. But before the fence was horizontal, we have seen a wall more than two meters high, as the front foot stepped on the crossbar and the back foot crossed over. Therefore, the second generation of the fence was changed to a vertical one. There is no place to step on the foot.

We have a sentence, which is both a joke and the truth. “I don’t have to beat the elephant, but I must not run at the end.”


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