Local wild elephants making the news (for all the wrong reasons)
Those of you who keep an eye on the world elephant scene will have grown used to the idea of human elephant conflict and all the underlying causes and frustrations - hardly a day goes by without news from Assam of a village 'attacked', a home made whisky still raided; from Indonesia of a palm oil plantation in newly cleared forest destroyed; from Africa of locals intercepted on their way home from work on a new plantation or of elephants relocated to areas of deeper forest (thanks to Shirley for pointing this last one out to me).
Even as close to home as Southern Laos we know of Dr Schwettman's efforts in Huay Khao Kwai National Park to give local villagers a vested interest in the elephants that eat their crops or Kaeng Krachan in South of Bangkok where the Wildlife Conservation Society runs a Human Elephant Conflict reduction project.
But when asked about our local wild elephants I usually smile and mumble something about rumours of a wild herd in Northern Laos and a Chinese project near Jing Hong. So it has caught me by surprise somewhat to learn of two 'attacks' by wild elephants within a 200km radius of the Golden Triangle - one in Muang Singh (up in what is nowadays the 'real' Golden Triangle - where Laos, Burma and China meet) and one at the 'valley of the elephants' near Jing Hong in China.
I have been to both places but not for enough time to see the elephant territory properly, so even as we mourn for the families of those killed and worry for the safety of wild elephants throughout the world but particularly in the back yard (albeit not easy to visit back yard - though both with a tourist infrastructure) I am excited to learn of more than just rumours of wild populations and am already working out how and when I can pack my bags - expedition anyone?
A female tourist from Yunnan Province was badly injured when four elephants attacked her on a road neighbouring a nature reserve in Xishuangbanna over the weekend.
The woman was resting with her tour group at the side of the road when the four elephants attacked.
Experts said such attacks were rarely reported and that the elephants may have been frightened by someone else nearby.