Home   >   TRAVEL&Culture > Sights >   Content

Beautiful Yunnan, paradise for elephant wanderers

Updated:2021-06-17 15:41:18   

The Asian elephant herd that had originally lived in south Yunnan’s Xishuangbanna kicked off an unplanned tour in December 2020. In the ensuing months, the northbound elephants treked through the rainforest and mountains and rivers that extend much of the province.

So where on earth is the herd from? The nose-broken family comes from Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, home to the biggest tropical rain forest in China. Here, the forest coverage is over 95 percent, and nature reserves add up to 6,228,000 mu (around 415,200 ha).

In a valley frequented by wild elephants, the Chinese Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center was built up, the only research base of its kind in China.

In Xishuangbanna, the elephant images are almost everywhere: in cliff paintings, on sculptures, pottery, embroidery… They even appear in the night market or in the hands of visitors.

Xishuangbanna is not only home to the wild elephants, the sole rain forest on the Tropic of Cancer and the best eco-system in the Chinese tropical areas. The prefecture is also lauded as the realm of wildlife, the gene bank of species and the forest museum.

On behalf of the Chinese side, the Xishuangbanna national nature reserve joined hands with three provinces in north Laos in setting up the five China-Laos protected areas for wild elephants to have free cross-border tours.

Extending 220km from Shangyong-Namha gate in the south to Mengla-Phongsaly point in the north, the jointly protected areas cover 133 square kilometers.

The northbound herd has recently remained in Yuxi City, whose downtown area enjoys excellent air on 99 percent of the days all year round. 64.1 percent of Yuxi is covered by forest.

Three of Yunnan’s nine major lakes are located in Yuxi, namely the lakes of Fuxian, Xingyun and Qilu. As the deepest fresh water lake in China, Fuxian hosts 9.16% of the national fresh water in lakes. Xingyun and Qilu are linked up to enhance each other's beauty. They are the biggest lake group at the source of the Pearl River.

Except oceans and deserts, all the other eco-systems can be found in Yunnan, a province of diverse plants and animals. As one of the 17key Chinese areas of distinct bio-diversity, Yunnan forms an eco-safety barrier in southwest China. It is the natural gene pool for China and the world at large.

The special location, varied geology, diverse topography and vertical climate types, all make Yunnan the Chinese province with the highest degree of bio-diversity.

Besides Asian elephants, the province houses the Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys,skywalker gibbon, the green peacock, rhododendron giganteum, rheum nobile…

Rare wild animals and plants thrive here. In the past 30 years, over one third of the Chinese new species are found in Yunnan.

For the wild animals of tiny populations, such as Asian elephants, golden monkeys, gibbons and green peacocks, Yunnan has built up an all-round monitoring system at their habitats.

The province restored the habitat of Asian elephants, monitored their activities and sent warnings to ward off man-elephant conflicts. It artificially bred green peacocks and sent them back to nature. Initiating the golden-monkey protection network, Yunnan also has reserves for green peacocks and Indian bison.

“Populations of elephants, gibbons, golden monkeys and green peacocks in Yunnan have been on the rise. The population of snub-nosed monkeys increased from over 1,400 in 2000 to over 3,000 at present, while the number of wintering black-necked cranes rose from 1,600 plus in 1996 to over 3,000 now.

Such a beautiful Yunnan! Why not come for a tour?

By gateway reporters

Keywords:   Yunnan elephant wanderers