China's migrating elephants linger by township in Yunnan

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Aerial photo taken on June 12, 2021, shows a herd of wild Asian elephants in Shije township of Yimen county, Yuxi city, southwestern China's Yunnan province. The wandering wild Asian elephant herd were seen lingering by Shijie township in Yimen county. [Photo/Xinhua]

The wandering herd of wild Asian elephants that has caught global attention is lingering in Shijie township in the city of Yuxi, southwestern China's Yunnan province, authorities said Saturday.

A male elephant, which broke free from the herd seven days ago, is now about 14.3 kilometers away in Kunming's Jinning district, after leaving Anning, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of the provincial capital Kunming at 5:40 p.m. on Friday.

All the elephants are safe and sound, according to the headquarters in charge of monitoring their migration.

Continuous rainfall is complicating efforts to monitor the elephants and take safety precautions. Authorities have dispatched emergency staff, vehicles and drones to help evacuate and protect local residents, while ensuring the safety of the elephants. They fed 2 tonnes of food to the animals on Saturday.

The herd traveled approximately 500 kilometers from their forest home in the Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture before reaching Kunming 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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