Herd of elephants on outskirts of Chinese city after 300-mile rampage

Herd of elephants on outskirts of Chinese city after 300-mile rampage

06/02/2021

Rampaging herd of 15 elephants leaves a 300-mile long trail of destruction after breaking out of a nature reserve: Chinese city mobilises amid fears they are set to tear through the streets

  • Herd of 15 elephants broke out of a nature reserve in southern China on April 16 and began a long march north
  • They have since walked 300 miles, the longest migration on record in China, damaging farmland along route
  • Animals are now just two miles from suburbs of Kunming city, home to 7million, as officials try to divert them 
  • Experts say it is unclear what prompted the migration, but possible an ‘inexperienced’ male leader got lost 

A herd of elephants that has left a 300-mile trail of destruction across southern China is now bearing down on a city of 7million people after experts say the ‘inexperienced’ male pack leader ‘got lost’.

The 15-strong group of wild animals has been wandering towards the city of Kunming, in Yunnan province, since April 16 when they broke out of a nature reserve in Xishuangbanna Dai prefecture.

They are now in the countryside near the city of Yuxi, and have come as close as two miles from the southern-most suburbs of regional capital Kunming, sparking fears they could enter the city and cause chaos.

Roads have been blocked using lorries while 18 tons of pineapples and corn have been scattered in an attempt to lead the elephants away from the city’s Jinning district.

A herd of 15 wild elephants that has migrated 300 miles across rural China after breaking out of a nature reserve is now just two miles from the outskirts of Kunming city, home to 7million people (pictured on May 28)

The elephants began their march – the longest of its kind on record in China – on April 16, wandering through farmland and smaller villages before reaching the city of Yuxi on June 1, close to regional capital Kunming

More than 360 people have been sent to try and divert the herd, including police using 76 squad cars, along with wildlife officers flying nine drones to monitor their progress. 

Elephants are a protected species in China, meaning the herd will not be destroyed, while wildlife officers are also keen to avoid using tranquilizers on the infants.

Animal experts told Xinhua news agency that it is unclear what has motivated the elephants’ migration, which is the longest ever recorded in China.

But they said it is possible that the pack leader ‘lacks experience and led the whole group astray.’

The initial herd consisted of 16 elephants, but two of them turned around during the trek and went home. A calf was then born during the walk, bringing the total to its current 15.

Observers say the group now consists of six adult females, three adult males, three juveniles and three calves of unknown sex. 

The wild herd had been living in the Xishuangbanna Dai Nature Reserve until moving out of the area more than a month ago.

Last week, the elephants wandered on to the streets of a town called Eshan, close to Yuxi, and remained there for six hours with residents warned to stay indoors.

During that time, the elephants wandered the streets, broke into barns, ate out of rubbish bins and munched their way through nearby farmland. 

Damage done by the elephants to farmland along their route is currently estimated at 6.8 million yuan ($1.1 million), according to Xinhua.



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The elephants were spotted in E’shan county on May 28 (pictured) before migrating even further to the north, sparking fears they could try to enter Kunming as police and wildlife officers race to stop them

Experts say it is unclear what caused the herd – three males, six females, three juveniles and three calves – to migrate, but say it is possible that an inexperienced male leader ‘got lost’

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