A herd of elephants is making a trek of hundreds of kilometers through cities and highways in southwest China, raiding crops along the way. Authorities have tried to guide them by feeding them food such as pineapples, but this herd is almost to Kunming. Zoologists do not understand what caused the elephant herd to suddenly leave their homes .
Fifteen elephants, including three calves, left the reserve in Xishuangbanna in mid-April and traveled about 500 kilometers north, almost to Kunming, the capital metropolis of Yunnan.
According to AFP, Chinese state television showed footage of the animals walking through towns at night, stopping on major roads or ransacking cornfields. The animals are being closely monitored by residents and authorities, who use drones to avoid any risk to human safety.
In the past week, the elephants have emptied a farm’s cistern and grain silos. It is estimated that they have caused 6.8 million yuan (870,000 euros) in damage and looted 56 hectares of crops since they began their exodus.
To properly guide the herd of elephants, authorities have tried to lure them with food and block roads with trucks. According to Chinese online sources, the food fed was mainly pineapples.
Zoologists do not understand what caused the elephant herd to leave the reserve by such a long distance. In recent years, however, the plants that elephants normally eat have been replaced by plant species they cannot eat, and herds have tended to move closer to villages.
Wild elephants are protected in China and their population is estimated at 300, compared to less than 200 in the 1980s. They live exclusively in the tourist areas of tropical Xishuangbanna.
According to Sohu.com, which published the Times today, at 6:11 p.m. on the evening of June 2, villagers from Walnut Park Village in Jinning County, Kunming, confirmed to the newspaper that “elephants have entered the boundary of Walnut Park Village” and that “village cadres told villagers to move food up to the second floor and people not to go out “. This news also said that on June 1, after being manually fed and guided by roadblocks, the elephants entered Xinzhai Village, which is only about three kilometers from the boundary of Jinning District, Kunming City.