The recent news about 15 wandering wild Asian elephants moving northward in China’s Yunnan Province has received worldwide attention. The herd’s unusual trek through the province is fascinating, while it turns out to be a live coverage of China as well.
The relationship between humans and elephants in China has been through many phases, from isolation and “mutual non-aggression,” to occasional conflicts, and to “seesaw confrontations” before arriving at today’s “dialogue and communication.” All along the way, the local governments and the inhabitants have most closely attended to these wild creatures on this long stroll to the north, adding a beautiful touch to the picture of “dialogue and communication” between people and wildlife.
Authorities have provided a whole variety of support for the elephants, such as clearing the way for them, replenishing supplies and evacuating villagers where necessary. On the part of the villagers, there have been spontaneous friendly responses. Together, the authorities, the villagers and the elephants present a charming story of China in the 21st century.
Overseas media have also been fascinated with the elephant story. As they tell the world about the wild creatures, they find China’s Yunnan, the story’s physical background, gorgeous. Further, their fascination has been extended to those residents “south of the colorful clouds” (the name of the province literally means “south of the colorful clouds”), whose hospitality manifests their benevolence, inclusiveness and altruism.
Following the footsteps of the elephants, the media has seen a part of China that has not been often seen, a moving picture of the mountains, rivers, forests, fields, lakes and grass, a typical reflection of China’s ecological construction. For example, Xiangyanqing Village, (a natural village of the Guanping Village Administration, Dadugang Township, Jinghong City), located at the edge of the preservation area, is an exemplary village, well known for its harmonious co-existence with elephants. While many foreign cultures are still stuck in their stereotypical and false knowledge about China, this herd of “star elephants” is telling them a radically different story of the country. Their dramatic wandering and the striking images of China and Chinese people along their route are conveying a real China to viewers who really care to know. In that sense, the elephants have been self-appointed “image ambassadors” of ecological China.
In short, the northward migration of the elephants is not only a test of people’s patience and love, but also a narrative of modernization in both urban and rural areas of the country. Many places in Yunnan that the elephants have passed through are mixtures of modern lifestyle, local characteristics and idyllic scenery. Viewers can't help but admire the fruitful achievements of China’s reform and opening-up over the past four decades. Both the urban and rural inhabitants have benefited from China’s rising economy. The “well-targeted poverty-relief and rural revitalization project has especially resulted in “strong agriculture, beautiful countryside and well-off farmers.” Generally, the elephants odyssey presents a scene of prosperity featured by thriving industries, livable ecology, civilized countryside, efficient governance and affluency.