Wild Elephants No Longer Endangered by Highway Cutting Through Preserve

October 10, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: October 10, 2007 12:00 am

TAIPEI-In Yunnan Province, China, the Xishuangbanna Nature Preserve is home to an endangered species of wild Asian elephants. Unfortunately, a major highway also cuts through the preserve, which posed a hazard to both the elephants and the motorists that drive on that road.

Wenweipo, a Hong Kong-based newspaper, reports there are currently 250 wild elephants in the Preserve, which often feed near the Sixiao Highway. Paths running parallel to the highway were constructed for the elephants to walk on, in an effort to not disturb their routine activities. However, some of the elephants still crossed the highway in both directions to feed, posing a threat to cars and themselves.

To keep the elephants from crossing the highway, in May 2005 the Preserve officials built the Guanping Wild Asian Elephant Feeding Station next to the highway. Fifty-eight hundred banana trees, 60 acres of corn, six acres of king grass, four acres of rice, three acres of bamboo, and five acres of tiger grass were planted so the elephants could feed there and, after eating, return to their habitat.

Wenweipo says since the feeding station has become the elephant's “dining hall,” they seldom cross the highway. However, the local public safety bureau still receives calls that the elephants are feeding next to the highway. In response, they immediately dispatch officers to the scene to prevent an accident from occurring.