Conservationists in China have had to rehabilitate four elephants that were addicted to heroin. They were fed the drug by drug smugglers belonging to the Chinese triad.
Heroin used to control elephants
Campaigners alerted the proper authorities to a gang of drug dealers who were using elephants to smuggle drugs over the China-Myanmar boarder. This cruel tactic – feeding the elephants with bananas that were laced with heroin – was used by the Chinese triads to make the elephants easier to control.
Rehabilitation for the 4 elephants
The conservationists who have been helping to wean the elephants off the drug say that during the process of rehabilitation, the elephants were very difficult to control. “…it is every bit as hard for the elephants to go through the cold turkey regime as it is for humans,” Chen Jiming from the local elephant breeding center said.
Elephant hunting banned in China
According to Jiming, elephant population in China has increased since the banning of elephant hunting. “But we haven’t increased the penalties for people who turn them into drug addicts by feeding them heroin laced bananas. This is also an important issue that needs to be tackled.”
Elephants are now clean
The conservationists used methadone to slowly wean the elephants off the heroin they were addicted to. “It has been a long battle but we can safely say that they are now reintegrated into elephant society and in some cases even have families of their own,” Jiming said.
The elephants are now doing well and have been declared ‘clean’ by the experts who assisted them during this tough time. They have now been released into the protected area of the Yunnan forest, where approximately 250 other Asian elephants currently reside.
– Copley Sutton: Freelance copywriter in Johannesburg, South Africa