(ECNS) -- In the past 30 years, the total number of Asian elephants in the world decreases continually, but the population of wild Asian elephants in southwest China's Yunnan Province reached approximately 360 by 2021.
Wildlife conservation workers at the Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center have dedicated themselves to improving the welfare of the species and successfully rescued more than 20 wild Asian elephants since its establishment in 2008.
"After taking care of elephants for so many years, I think they are a relatively intelligent and spiritual species," said Chen Jiming, staff member at the center. "Although they are physically big, we are not afraid of them after getting to know them. They can be very human."
The staff at the center are known as "elephant fathers" for spending more than 10 hours every day rescuing and looking after wild Asian elephants that have been abandoned by their herds.
"Sometimes when we returned to work from vacation, the baby elephant was very happy to see us. It ran to us from far away, and rubbed us with its small nose, snuggling intimately. It was probably trying to say: 'Dad, where have you been? I miss you. I haven't seen you for a while!' In fact, these elephants are like our children. We protect and care for them like family members," said Chen.
At the rescue center, Asian elephants not only receive treatment and grow up healthily but also go to the wild to exercise. Every day, the breeders take them to the forest, where they can forage and live independently. According to the staff, the daily training is no less than 7 hours, so that they can return to the wild as soon as possible.
"I hope the rescued elephants can return to the wild and their home with their own efforts and those of the 'elephant fathers.' If that day does come, when they can truly return to the wild, I would be very reluctant to see them leave. However, just like my own children, the elephants will grow up. One day, they will leave us and find their own life," added Chen.