KUNMING, April 6 — Wildlife authorities in southwest China’s Yunnan Province said they will release the Asian elephant they captured Friday back into the wild in an appropriate time.
The Asian elephants breeding and rescue center of Yunnan said Saturday the elephant, which ran amok in a town before it was captured Friday, would be released but needs to pass a comprehensive emotional and physical assessment first.
The 20-year-old elephant Weizhayo, meaning victor in the Dai language, was an underdog in a fight for mate and turned fractious after being expelled from the pack by the winning alpha, according to the forestry and grassland administration of Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna.
The 4-tonne animal intruded into Meng’a Town, Menghai County, six times between March 17 and April 4, tramping crowded roads and damaging 16 motor vehicles and five buildings.
After meeting with experts, the provincial forestry authority approved the request for an “arrest.” The prefecture government then formulated a hunting plan and an emergency pre-plan, and set up an operation command.
On Thursday, the elephant invaded Meng’a again and walked around a school and a sugarhouse. The hunt was on.
On Friday morning, an anesthetist stalked on the target near the town government building and shot a 1.2-ml narcotic needle in its rear using a blow pipe.
After 12 minutes, Weizhayo fell heavily to the ground and was caged. He woke up 35 minutes later showing normal vital signs and was sent to the center, “safe and sound.”
During mating season, competition between male elephants can be intense and lead to frequent fights, imperiling residents in the area.
A wild Asian elephant came into the city of Pu’er last April and took a stroll for six hours before it was brought under control and kept in the elephant breeding and rescue center in Xishuangbanna.
Thanks to improving environment, the number of wild Asian elephants, which are under A-level state protection, has grown from 170 in the 1990s to about 300 in China, leading to more human-elephant conflict.
Last month, an elephant habitat reconstruction project was launched in Yunnan to build a 51-hectare “dining area” for wild elephants to solve conflicts between the endangered animal and local residents. – XINHUA