Written by Prakriti Panwar, a grade 12 student.
China’s latest internet obsession has been rather peculiar – it’s a bunch of elephants that seem to have grabbed not only the netizens’ attention but that of the whole world! These animal celebrities are followed by drones and are even accompanied by the police. The stars of the show are 3 calves, one of whom was even born during the journey.
Their original image was revealed in an aerial shot of the Jinning District in southwest China. They have travelled about 500 kilometres since escaping from a nature reserve last year.
While these elephants have become a unique internet sensation, it isn’t all fun and games. The herd has damaged more than a million’s worth of crops and even caused minor harm to locals. In fact, the town of Eshan was asked to stay inside and vehicles were even asked to evacuate.
The reason behind this sudden journey of the elephants is still unclear but can be pointed towards environmental degradation, to an extent.
This is why it is now time to address the elephant in the room (quite literally)
These Asian elephants are considered to be “protected species” and only 300 of them live in Yunnan, a province in southwestern China. According to a research article in ‘Nature,’ elephant distributions used to be found in ‘unbroken natural forest.’ Now, however, the forest areas have declined and ‘distribution ranges have become smaller and fragmented.’ Naturally, this has led to confrontations between elephants and human beings considering that these elephants are now moving away from their conventional habitat and towards more populated areas. Many of these issues are an indirect consequence of economic policies.
The only solution to reduce the chances of a dangerous confrontation between humans and elephants, and protect the latter, according to wildlife biologist Zhang Li, is to “restore their habitats and protect natural resources”