The wild Chinese elephants live in the equatorial forest of Xishuangbanna of Yunnan Province. Wild Elephants Valley is the place in Xishuangbanna where wild elephants move about most often and frequently. Convenient in traffic, distinctive in equatorial forest landscape and easy to see wild elephants, it has become the popular tourist site in Xishuang Banna.
Wild Elephants Valley covers an area of 369 hectares by the Sancha River in Mengyang Town, and is situated 47 kilometers north of the city of Jinghong. With hills rolling gently at an altitude ranging between 747 and 1055 metres, the valley is covered by tropical rain forests, crisscrossed by rivers and streams, and teeming with such endangered species as Asian wild elephants, wild oxen, green peacocks and monkeys.
In the Wild Elephants Valley, the first passenger cableway with 2,063 meters of length in the equatorial forest sends the tourists to the main scenic spot in which the wild elephants live. The tourists can drink in the beauty of the scenery of the equatorial forest at the top, in the forest; when the wild elephants appear, in the main scenic spot the tourists can walk about on the overhead corridor and enjoy the scene of elephants bathing, playing water and seeking for food; the on-tree elephants-enjoying hotel is neighboring on the wild elephants and various birds. If you live in it, you will have various feelings.
Outside the main scenic spots of the Wild Elephants Valley, tourists can appreciate wonderful performances given by the first elephant-domesticating school of China, the butterfly world inside the first butterfly-farming park in China, and the tropical birds in the hundred-bird park.
At the gate of the park, a peacock garden dazzles visitors with a variety of peacocks and other birds. And the first artificial propagation butterfly farm in China shows visitors the whole growth process of brightly-colored butterflies. The forest exploration tourist area offers people a chance to learn about the habits of wild animals.
Xishuangbanna Wild Elephant & Nature Reserve consists of four sites of interest to the visitor:
· An Asian Elephant Breeding Center, established in Xishuangbanna by the Chinese government's State Forestry Commission, but still under construction; · An Asian Elephant Ecological Observation Center; · The natural corridor, or ravine, where wild animals roam freely (and where the visitor may observe these animals via a cableway over the ravine), including - besides the wild elephants, of course - the bear and the water buffalo, and where there is a Python Pavilion, a Bird Park that is home to a number of rare birds, and a Butterfly Park; · And lastly, a Jinuo ethnic minority village with a tent camping facility offering campfire parties, and, for those who require a more tranquil stay, mountain huts for rent.
At the Jinuo village the visitor can observe first-hand the unique lifestyle of this special minority group, and, with a bit of luck, one might observe a Jinuo religious ceremony where ritualistic music is played involving the use of very large - and sacred - sun-drums (the Jinuo are animists, i.e., they believe, as do many other ethnic groups around the world, including American Indians, that all things, inanimate as well as animate, possess a spirit, the sun being especially sacred to the Jinuo - to learn more about the Jinuo ethnic minority, click here).
A Survey of the Reserve's Natural Resources The planned area of Xishuangbanna Wild Elephant & Nature Reserve is 369 hectares. The reserve is abundant in various natural resources including subtropical forests, tropical rainforests (these are found in the valleys below 800 meters above sea level), half-deciduous rainforests (distributed between 800-900 meters above sea level), and subtropical evergreen broad-leafed forests. And of course, there is the usual range of naturally-occuring wild animals in these various forest habitats. In addition, there are more than 400 types of plants on either side of the ravine that is home to the wild elephant herds, including the banyan, olive, and longan tree.
There are several groups, or families, of wild elephants living in the ravine, numbering about 60 head in all. They share the ravine with the bear, the wild buffalo, and the cobra, to name some of the more exotic species. It would be unfair not to point out that the reserve is also home to many wild birds which attact the attention not only of international bird experts, but also of groups of visiting bird-watchers.
Asian Elephants versus African Elephants China has traditionally been a breeding grounds for the Asian elephant (aka Indian elephant), which is somewhat smaller than its African cousin. Because of naturally-occurring as well as man-made changes in the wild elephant's habitat over time, there are today only about 300 Asian elephants living and multiplying in the free on the virgin forest lands of Xishuangbanna Wild Elephant & Nature Reserve. The Asian elephant represents the largest land mammal native to China.
Compared to the African elephant, the Asian elephant weighs between 3-6 metric tons (the African elephant, between 4-7½ metric tons), has two cranial bulges with an indent in the center (the African elephant has only a single cranial bulge and thus no indent), has small, square-ish, slightly droopy ears ('the ear of the African elephant is shaped like the African continent', it is said; in any case, it slopes back and slightly upwards and outwards, masking the animal's neck when seen in profile), has a lower lip that protrudes markedly and is tapered (the lower lip of the African elephant is rounder and hardly protrudes at all), and lastly, the Asian elephant has tusks that are generally shorter and lighter, even when they on occasion can reach the same length as those of the African elephant. Moreover, the tusks of the female Asian elephant are often only embryonic by comparison, and sometimes completely lacking (the tusks of the male are generally larger for both species*).
With its richly varied flora and fauna, its many streams and waterholes, and with the added state protection that the reserve enjoys, Xishuangbanna Wild Elephant & Nature Reserve is truly an ideal habitat for the many wild animals and birds that make their home here.
In the Nature Reserve there is a castle-like observing house by the water pool is specially built for tourists. On the trees by the pool are some small and exquisite "Observing Elephant Platforms" on which people can observe elephants or other animals drinking water. If you stay here for two or three days, you are sure to see wild elephants right before your own eyes The elephants usually drink water in the morning and in the evening. When you observe them, you must keep quiet and do nothing to irritate them. Otherwise you will regret it later
The elephants in Xishuangbanna are Asian elephants. They live on wild banana, thorn bamboo top, tender branch and leaf , bamboo leaf and corn. After eating the food, they usually go to a pool surrounded with trees to drink water which is contained with nitre and alkali, and take a mud-bath. There are about 300 elephant living in the dense forest in Xishuangbanna, so it is called "the Kingdom of Elephants". To the Dai people, the elephant is a symbol of good fortune, might, strength and force
Note: Many foreigner go to San Cha He Nature Reserve to see the wild elephants. But it is not safe to explore in the forest by yourself, especialy in the raining season, beacause the wild elephants are not freindly to any people, elephants walking around in the forest very frequently in raining season.So far, many elephants attacting people case alread happened in the forest before. So, the better way to see the wild elephant is to stay on tree guesthouse for overnight. Normaly the wild elephants will go to the pool beside the guesthouse for water and bath, at evening, night or morning.
The Wild Elephants Valley will show you a genuinely beautiful and mysterious Xishuangbanna.
How to get there: You can take a bus at the Jinghong Bus Station and get off at the Wild Elephant Valley. The ticket is RMB 12 yuan. Alternatively, you take a bus from Simao to Jinghong or Mengla, which passes by Wild Elephant Valley, but be sure to get off at the Wild Elephant Valley stop!
Tips: 1) The Wild Elephant Valley Tourism Line jaunt includes a visit to: the Asian Elephant Breeding Center; the Elephant Performance District; the Hotel on Big Trees (where wild elephants can be observed, first-hand); the Tropical Rainforest via a cableway trip across the valley; the Bird Performance District (i.e., various rare bird parks); the Butterfly Park; and the Jinuo Ethnic Minority Mountain Village, where you may be lucky enough to observe the Jinuo sun-drum dance. 2) The cableway, completed in May of 1988, is the first of its kind in China, and measures 2063 meters in length. It takes 35 minutes to cross the valley by cableway.