Creating A Tech Safety Net Because My Neighbors Are Elephants
Xishuangbanna is one of the world's most well-preserved tropical ecosystems. Known locally as the "emerald belt", the area is home to many of China's protected species, including the Indian bison, lesser mouse-deer, clouded leopard, Phayre's leaf monkey, and gray peacock-pheasant.
The area is most famous for being home to China's remaining Asian elephants, next to which locals have lived closely for nearly 20 years.
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The Asian elephant is an iconic species among Xishuangbanna's rich fauna. Through wildlife protection efforts, the number of wild Asian elephants in China has increased from about 170 in the early 1980s to more than 300 today. Their behavior and feeding patterns have also changed over the years, and the elephants have lost their fear of humans. Their living spaces overlap with local people and it's not uncommon to see an elephant dining on farmers' crops. Nor is it uncommon to see one of the giants roaming around villages and farms outside their reserve, searching for food during the harvest season.
Preventing conflicts between hungry elephants and local residents is a top priority in Yunnan's ecosystem conservation efforts.
For Dong Rui, a ranger at the Mengyang Management and Conservation Bureau in Yunnan Province's Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, monitoring wild elephants one of his key tasks.
Dong Rui is describing the world's first Asian elephant protection, monitoring, and warning system. Deployed in November 2019, the smart system comprises ultra-HD and infrared cameras with removable SD cards, video, and a warning broadcast system that pushes warnings of elephant movements to locals on a mobile app if an elephant is detected. To support real-time data transmission, the Xishuangbanna Forestry and Grassland Bureau and China Mobile Yunnan built the system using 4G and 5G, fiber, cloud, and IoT. They deployed monitoring devices in places where elephants frequently appear.
Since deployment, unplanned human-elephant encounters have been greatly reduced, with Tan reporting zero incidents of injured humans or other conflicts in the areas covered. The system has so far collected 1.43 million images and sent more than 6,000 warnings.
As well as the protective function, researchers can systematically collect data for research. Doing so requires high-performance networks, so Huawei teamed up with China Mobile Yunnan to carry out the All-Optical Smart City 1-3-9 project.
High-quality private lines ensure real-time backhaul of the monitoring videos and support collaboration between local and provincial governments. An ultra-low-latency optical transmission link from the monitoring center to research center in Kunming helps the two organizations work together to boost research efforts on Asian elephants.
We all share the same planet and we can only flourish if we respect all living things. Technology has the power to better protect nature and ensure that we can harmoniously coexist with the millions of species that share our home.