One of China’s stray elephants has finally returned home. But the problems exposed by the herd’s journey do not go away

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One of China’s stray elephants has finally returned home.

Last week, a lone elephant that separated from the herd a month ago was captured and returned to its home reserve. He had traveled more than 190 kilometers (118 miles) on his own, surviving on food prepared by local authorities and occasionally feeding in villages.

Meanwhile, the rest of the herd are still marching on what appears to be an endless journey, closely watched around the clock by dozens of drones and hundreds of emergency response personnel and police.

A lone elephant that separated from the wandering herd on June 6 was captured and returned to its home reserve last week.
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Elephants have become a national obsession in the last month, with millions of people tuning in to watch live feeds of their daily lives, captured by drones buzzing around them. People followed, stabbed, trampling crops, breaking into kitchens, and – when they weren’t causing havoc – would lie down together for peaceful group naps.

But like all internet sensations, interest inevitably began to wane, with fewer and fewer people talking about the herd online.

And as the elephants retreat from public life, the environmental issues exposed by their year-long journey are only just beginning.

Some experts see the elephant journey as a desperate quest for better resources. Asian elephants are a protected species in China, and thanks to conservation efforts, their populations have doubled to around 300 in four decades. But at the same time, nearly 40% of their habitat in southern Yunnan has been lost to commercial development over the past 20 years, a group of Chinese researchers wrote in a letter to the science journal Nature on the week. last.

Amid China’s rapid economic growth, rubber and tea plantations have proliferated in Yunnan, replacing vast swathes of forest, while highways, railroads and hydroelectric power plants cut off migration routes. The province’s elephant herds are fragmented and isolated on increasingly small plots of land, many being forced to forage in agricultural areas.

This has led to an increase in human-elephant conflicts. Between 2014 and 2020, the Yunnan government paid more than $ 26 million in compensation for damage caused by elephants, state media reported. Sometimes such conflicts can also be fatal. From 2013 to 2019, 41 people were trampled to death and 32 others were injured by Asian elephants in Yunnan, according to provincial authorities.
Perhaps less well known to the public is that their beloved herd of stray elephants also claimed the life of a villager last summer near the town of Pu’er in southern Yunnan.

For now, authorities are trying to keep the herd away from populated areas with food bait and roadblocks. Every day, animals are fed large amounts of corn, as well as bananas and pineapples, while heavy trucks form long lines to keep them out of villages and towns. But still, thousands of residents are evacuated every day to make way for their journey.

In the long term, scientists say the only way to prevent a future elephant exodus is to restore, expand and reconnect their existing habitats.

“We call for an integrated system of national park reserves for China’s elephants. This should be protected and take into account their foraging habits, migration patterns and other progressive activities,” the Chinese experts wrote. in their letter to Nature.

The tension of coexistence between humans and wildlife is not just an issue facing Yunnan, one of China’s most ecologically diverse regions. As China experiences rapid urbanization, wildlife in other parts of the country increasingly face similar problems, especially as populations of certain species have been boosted by conservation efforts.

In April, a Siberian tiger wandered through a village in northeast China, attacking a woman and a car full of passengers. As recently as last week, three wolves attacked villagers and killed a dog in Heilongjiang Province. Two of the animals were slaughtered by authorities and the other was sent to a nearby zoo.

Around asia

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to defend the Philippine armed forces against attacks in the South China Sea, as part of a 70-year-old mutual defense treaty.
  • Filipino activists are trying to change a law that allows 12-year-olds to consent to sex, which they say has in part caused rampant child abuse in the country.
  • The owner of a factory where at least 52 people have died in a fire in Bangladesh has been arrested, along with seven others.
  • The capital of South Korea and the largest city in Australia announced on Friday that they will increase their Covid-19 prevention measures to tackle the growing epidemics of the Delta variant in both cities.

After Didi, China Seeks to Expand Control Over Overseas IPOs

The Chinese crackdown on Big Tech continues to intensify.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) – the country’s powerful internet watchdog – proposed over the weekend that any business with data on more than one million users must seek agency approval before making a decision. list its shares abroad. He also proposed that companies should submit IPO documents to the agency for review before listing. The agency said it would seek “public opinion” on the draft rules, which were released on Saturday, before they were officially adopted.

This decision shows how Beijing is expanding its control over the tech sector. The CAC is the same agency that banned Didi, China’s largest ridesharing service, from app stores for “serious violation of laws” on data collection days after the company went public in the United States. United.

CAC’s influence in China has exploded over the years since President Xi Jinping established the agency as it currently operates in 2014 in the name of China’s internet protection and data security. . Xi’s move came after former CIA subcontractor Edward Snowden leaked U.S. intelligence secrets in 2013, triggering a global storm over privacy and security.

The CAC also punished Didi even more on Friday, banning 25 of the company’s other apps and accusing them of breaking laws on the collection and use of personal information. Apps include Didi Enterprise, Uber China (which Didi bought from Uber in 2016), and other apps designed for different services, ranging from ridesharing to financial programs.

Other Chinese regulators have also put pressure on the technology. Over the weekend, the State Administration of Market Regulation blocked Tencent’s plan to merge two of China’s major video game streaming sites, Huya and Douyu. The regulator has raised concerns that the merger will give Tencent – which is each website’s largest shareholder – too much control over the market. Huya and Douyu are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and have a combined market capitalization of $ 5.3 billion.

– By Laura Il

Stay cool

A cool game: In Chongqing, known as one of China’s ‘furnace cities’ for its extremely hot and humid climate, locals have found creative ways to escape the summer heat, including playing mahjong in a giant pool in a park. aquatic.

BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines could finally arrive in Taiwan

Taiwan could finally get Covid-19 vaccines developed by German drug maker BioNTech, ending a months-long struggle to get the doses amid mounting geopolitical tensions with China.

On Sunday, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co., BioNTech’s Chinese sales agent, announced that it had signed an agreement to deliver 10 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan. If adhered to, the deal would reduce the island’s vaccine shortage, as it grapples with its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

The BioNTech vaccines will be sold to two Taiwanese technology companies – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (better known as Foxconn) – and to a private charity controlled by Foxconn founder Terry Gou. They will then be handed over to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control for distribution, according to a statement from Shanghai Fosun.
The Taiwanese government has criticized Beijing for blocking its access to BioNTech vaccines. Taipei was set to sign a 5 million dose deal with the German drug maker in December, but Taiwanese officials said the deal fell through due to political pressure from China.

The Chinese government has denied the accusation. Instead, he insists Taiwan should buy the vaccine from Shanghai Fosun, which has a distribution deal with BioNTech in greater China.

Taiwan had been slow to roll out the Covid-19 vaccines, as residents initially felt little urgency to be vaccinated thanks to its successful containment of the virus. But in April, a rapid spike in infections prompted residents to rush to get vaccines, putting increasing public pressure on the Taiwanese government to increase supplies.

In June, the United States pledged to deliver 750,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, drawing the ire of Beijing.

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