As the size of the Earth's human population grows, the opposite is true for certain animal species. In China, the decline in giant panda numbers, almost to the point of extinction, has been well-documented, but what has been less talked about is the dwindling number of elephants.
The front line in what has become a battle for the survival is in China's southwest, where several small groups of Asian elephants are living in the wild. That they are under threat is, sadly, largely due to human activity.
People understandably feel threatened if they hear of herds roaming since elephants can be dangerous animals, especially when guarding their young. In the past, the locals set traps as a way of protecting themselves and their property, causing serious injury, and sometimes even death, to unfortunate elephants. But a more severe and long-term threat has been created by human logging and deforestation, which robs the elephants of their natural habitat.
The local people defend their actions, saying that they need to survive too. For many of the farmers, sugar cane is a vital source of income. But it's also a source of food for roving elephants. To protect their crop, the farmers feel justified in doing whatever may be necessary.
And so the battle lines are drawn, between elephants and humans.
But efforts are being made to resolve the situation, and protect both humans and elephants. Setting traps has been made illegal, and the local authorities have introduced a compensation scheme for farmers whose property has been damaged by elephants.
On the other hand, a rehabilitation program has been launched, under which injured and at-risk elephants are rescued and protected within a special sanctuary.
By CGTN's Rediscovering China