China's migrating elephant herd keeps heading southeast

Aerial photo taken on June 6, 2021 shows wild Asian elephants in Jinning District of Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province. (Photo: Xinhuna)

KUNMING-- The herd of 14 wandering wild Asian elephants in southwest China's Yunnan Province has continued to head southeast, advancing 6.3 km, authorities said Tuesday.

The movement took place from 5 p.m. Monday to the same time on Tuesday, with the herd remaining within the forest area of Tadian Township under the city of Yuxi. They had been here for the previous two days, the headquarters in charge of monitoring the elephants' migration said.

A male elephant, which strayed 24 days ago, is now 53.2 km to the northeast of the herd in the Hongta District in Yuxi.

The herd had traveled southward for five consecutive days last week before moving slightly to the northeast on Sunday. From 5 p.m. Sunday to the same time on Monday, they headed about 4.6 km southeast.

The animals traveled about 500 km north from their forest home in southern Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, reaching the provincial capital Kunming on June 2.

Continuous rains and foggy weather have complicated the tracking efforts of drones. Twelve ground tracking groups monitor the elephants' movement and warn residents nearby to evacuate, the headquarters said.

On Tuesday, 327 people were mobilized, 1,428 residents evacuated, and 1.1 tonnes of food was provided to the elephants.

Asian elephants are primarily found in Yunnan and are under A-level state protection in China. Thanks to enhanced protection efforts, the wild elephant population in the province grew to about 300, up from 193 in the 1980s.  

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