The herd of 15 elephants has caused 6.8 million yuan ($1.1 million) in damages to farmlands during their 300-mile journey after escaping a nature reserve last year

By Eric Todisco
June 03, 2021 02:50 PM
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Wild Elephant Migrating
elephants
| Credit: CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock

A herd of 15 wild elephants that escaped a nature reserve in China last year has now trekked over 300 miles along highways and fields and has left major destruction in its path.

The group of Asian elephants departed from a nature reserve in Xishuangbanna last year and traveled through the southwestern province of Yunnan to Yuxi, a city of about 2.6 million people, CNN, the Associated Press, and NBC News reported, all citing the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

As of Wednesday, the elephants are about 12 miles away from Kunming, a city of around 7 million people, according to reports.

The herd reportedly consists of six female and three male adults, three juveniles, and three calves. The group was initially 16 animals, but two returned home, and a baby was born during the trek, according to the AP.

Reports state that the herd is connected to 412 separate incidents of damage along its 300-mile journey. The herd has reportedly caused about 6.8 million yuan ($1.1 million) in damage to farmlands.

Wild Elephant Migrating
elephant herd
| Credit: CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock
Wild Elephant Migrating
elephant herd
| Credit: CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock

Authorities have attempted to stop the elephants in their journey to Kunming by blocking traffic on roads, setting up barriers, and using food as bait, but have had no success, according to CNN, who cited Xinhua.

Last week, residents of Eshan were told to stay indoors while the elephants roamed the streets of the town for six hours, CNN reported.

In total, over 360 people, 76 police vehicles, and nine drones have been mobilized to track the elephants, per reports.

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Cen Mingyong, an Asian elephant expert, told Xinhua that the incident is the longest-distance migration of wild elephants ever recorded in China. He said it was likely that the herd's leader "lacks experience and led the whole group astray," the AP reported.