China's migrating elephant herd heads southwest

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Aerial photo taken on June 8, 2021 shows the wild Asian elephant herd in Jinning District of Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

The wandering wild Asian elephant herd that has caught global attention has headed 3.7 km further southwest after taking a good rest in the outskirts of the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.

The herd of 14 elephants entered Shijie Township in the city of Yuxi at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday. They were seen taking a rest in Yuxi at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to the headquarters in charge of monitoring their migration.

A male elephant, which broke free from the herd four days ago, is now about 12 km away in a forest in Anning, a county-level city under Kunming administration. All the elephants are safe and sound.

Authorities have dispatched emergency staff, vehicles and drones to help evacuate local residents, while ensuring the safety of the elephants. They fed 2.1 tonnes of food to the animals on Wednesday.

The herd traveled approximately 500 km from their forest home in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture before reaching Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, late last Wednesday.

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

Asian elephants are under A-level state protection in China, where they are mostly found in Yunnan. Thanks to enhanced protection efforts, the wild elephant population in the province has grown to about 300, up from 193 in the 1980s. 

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