China’s migrating elephant herd heads 9.3 km further north

The Chinese herd of 14 stray wild Asian elephants have traveled further north, returning to Shijie County in Yimen County, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, authorities said Monday.

The herd headed north 9.3 km between 6 p.m. Sunday and the same time Monday. In recent days, they had traveled back and forth to Yimen and Eshan counties, posing great challenges for the command there and the coordination of their migration.

There are many villages around the herd migration route and they are dispersed, which has added to the difficulty of protecting the safety of the herd and local residents, according to the headquarters in charge of monitoring elephant migration.

A male elephant, which got lost 16 days ago, is now about 15 miles away in a forest in Kunming, the provincial capital.

Experts continue to work on plans to guide elephant migration, and precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of animals and local residents. On Monday, a total of 186 people were mobilized, 4,106 local residents were evacuated and 100 kg of food was provided to the elephants.

The animals traveled about 500 km north of their native forest in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, southern Yunnan, to reach Kunming on June 2.

For more than a month, authorities sent police to escort the herd, evacuated roads to facilitate their passage, and used food to prevent them from entering densely populated areas.

Asian elephants are mainly found in Yunnan and are under the protection of the A-level state in China. Thanks to increased protection efforts, the wild elephant population in the province has grown to around 300, up from 193 in the 1980s.

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