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February 26, 2015

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Little compensation for animal attacks

For farmers and herders around Changtang nature reserve in Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China, there are two sides to the wildlife coin.

Several months ago, Tashi Wangyel from Nyima Township in the north of Tibet found more than 20 dead sheep in his yard and several others missing. The forestry department confirmed that the killer was a brown bear. “The wolf usually bites the sheep’s neck, while bears peels the skin off their hindquarters,” he said.

A growing number of herders in Tibet are having similar unwelcome encounters with wild animals, whose populations are on the increase. Tibet is home to 795 vertebrate species, 125 of which are protected.

Local governments paid 419 million yuan (US$68 million) in compensation for losses caused by wildlife between 2006 and the end of 2014.

Tashi Wangyel received 250 yuan for each sheep, but an adult sheep sells for roughly 700 yuan in local markets.

Legally, local governments must compensate victims but enforcement is poor.

The Siberian tiger, one of the world’s most endangered animals, can be a big troublemaker in northeast Heilongjiang Province. In November, a tiger took dozens of goats from Guo’s farm, but he did not report the incident. “There is no compensation program in the province, so we just have to put up with it,” he said.

In Yunnan Province, from 2005 to 2013, 1,324 deaths and about 390 million yuan of losses were attributed to wild animals.

In 2010, Yunnan began to purchase commercial insurance for people in some regions. The government pays the premiums, and the insurers investigate and compensate people when animals cause trouble. The commercial mechanism is clearly more effective. Compensation is higher and paid more quickly.


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