'Border residents' roam freely between China and Laos

Updated 2018-01-10 14:01:10

Asian elephants, a star animal living in southwest China's Yunnan province, are the only group of "border residents" who can freely come and go to China and Laos without passports, People's Daily reported on Tuesday.

Rangers recently found another two corridors for elephants migrating between China and Laos thanks to the joint efforts by the National Nature Reserve in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and three provinces in northern Laos since they started cross-border cooperation in biodiversity monitoring and conservation in 2006.

In addition, the trails of Asian elephants and other rare species have been recorded by infrared cameras through many years' bilateral cooperation.

Joint patrols have become routine for biodiversity protection since the cooperation mechanism was established in 2006. With strengthened cross-border cooperation, green development and environmental protection have become the norm for the two countries.

The number of Asian elephants is rising, according to the observation. Roughly every elephant group has a baby and they stay at certain spots longer than before.

The positive changes cannot be separated from the efforts of the rangers, who are often at risk of elephant attacks and poisonous snake bites when patrolling in the reserve.

We are here protecting habitats for both human beings and elephants, said Li Zhongyun, a ranger in the reserve, adding that the 19th Party Congress report also mentioned that humans should live in harmony with nature.

However, the largest land animal on Earth also has brought bittersweet feelings to local farmers. Bananas were often ruined overnight after a herd of elephants march over them, resulting in casualties and property losses.

Xishuangbanna responded to the risk by rolling out an insurance trial scheme in 2010, arousing interest from Laos at the annual conference on cooperation and exchanges.

The national reserve is still exploring better compensation methods, said Zhang Zhongyuan, director of the China-Laos cooperation office at the nature reserve.

Persistent efforts are needed to achieve harmony between people and elephants, said Guo Xianming, a senior engineer of Asian elephant protection. The reserve is working hard to combine monitoring and protection work, build buffer zones, and strengthen the alert system.

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