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China, Laos to expand nature reserve to protect Asian elephant

By : Xinhua|Updated: 2011-10-31

China and Laos have signed an agreement to jointly build another cross-border nature reserve in order to better protect the endangered Asian elephant, according to local authorities.

The second reserve will cover 20,000 hectares of forest in China and stretch across 35,000 hectares in Laos, according to the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve Administration.

It will expand the cross-border reserve area to over 100,000 hectares after connecting it with the first nature reserve that was founded in 2009, which covers area of 54,000 hectares.

Yang Songhai, director of the reserve administration, said it will connect the separated tropical rain forest along the border into a bigger, better habitat and provide passages for the migration of large animals and other wildlife.

"The reserve is a part of the efforts to set up a safer corridor for the migration of the Asian elephant," Yang said.

He said the graceful creature has been endangered due to mounting pressure from economic and social progress, as well as increasing human mobility.

The reserve will also further expand the scale of bilateral cooperation in order to intensify the protection of biodiversity, according to Yang.

About 250 Asian elephants, the largest land animal in Asia, live in the wilderness of southwestern China's Yunnan Province. The elephants frequently cross the bordering forest.

In 2009, the two countries signed an agreement to establish the first cross-border nature reserve to protect rare animals like the Asian elephant and Indo-Chinese tiger.

The two sides have cooperated on technical training and research on human-elephant conflict and resolution.

Campaigns for improving resource protection and joint patrols on the reserve have also been launched.

Since 2006, the World Wild Life Fund and the Asian Development Bank have been funding projects to build corridors for the separated wild animals, aiming to maintain biodiversity and protect wildlife migration.

Yang said planning for the third nature reserve linking China and Laos has been concluded, which will be established in the coming three years with a total area of 190,000 hectares. Cross-border cooperation with Myanmar will be carried out in the near future.