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Promoting Harmony: Resolving Human-Elephant Conflict in Yunnan, China

In Dashujiao Village in southern Yunnan, more than 40 wild Asian elephants roam freely. While these majestic creatures are a wonder of nature, their increasing presence has brought challenges for the villagers. Human-elephant conflicts have surged as elephants encroach on the village in search of food. To address this issue, we've undertaken various community initiatives to alleviate the conflict and create harmony.

1. Procurement and Installation of electric fences

As the elephants venture closer to villagers' homes in search of food, many residents find it difficult to sleep at night due to the elephants' activity. During our research, we discovered an effective preventive method: electric fences. These fences deliver warning pulses without harming the elephants. In response, we established the "Dashujiao Village Electric Fence Fund" in collaboration with students to raise funds for electric fence installation.

Over the course of three fundraising campaigns held from July to August, we collected $20,763. These funds have supported 19 households in the village to install electric fences, enhancing their safety. Additionally, we donated two drone batteries to help monitor elephant movements. We're committed to continuing our fundraising efforts to assist more vulnerable villagers.

2. Livelihood Development - Dashujiao Village Beekeeping Group

Dashujiao Village, nestled in the mountains, faces transportation challenges and limited development resources. The impact of elephants has adversely affected the income of many villagers. To boost their resilience and income, we initiated the "Dashujiao Village Beekeeping Group" project in October.

This beekeeping project aims to help eight households in the village begin beekeeping activities. Four villagers have already joined the initiative. To support them, we require a startup capital of 36,000 yuan. This will cover professional beekeeping training, startup materials (including beehives), and other essentials. Fundraising for this project is ongoing, and we are dedicated to providing sustainable alternatives for the community.

3. Advocacy and Education

From July to August, the team participants in our field research conducted various outreach activities:

- Children's workshops were organized to educate kids about wild Asian elephants, enhancing their safety awareness.

- We created a safety science video featuring villagers, making it easier for locals to understand safety measures.

- In the hotel, we left wall paintings depicting elephants' charming behaviors, such as swimming, eating, and mud-bathing, fostering a sense of appreciation for these animals.

- Currently, we are designing an Asian elephant brochure to share valuable information with the villagers, contributing to their education and awareness.

4. Mapping Elephant Activity Hotspots

Our interactions with villagers revealed patterns in elephant movements. To better understand these elephants, we're compiling data and creating a heatmap based on wild elephant sightings. We've been collecting information from the Asian Elephant Early Warning Platform since October, and this effort will continue for several months.

The "Human-Elephant Harmonious Coexistence Project" represents our progress so far. There's much more we aspire to achieve, and we welcome volunteers and support from individuals willing to contribute to easing the conflict and promoting harmony in Dashujiao Village. If you'd like to join us in this endeavor, please feel free to connect with the project leader on WeChat. Together, we can make a positive impact on human-elephant coexistence.

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