KUNMING, China (Xinhua) — The wandering wild Asian elephant herd that has caught global attention has decided to linger by Shijie Township in the city of Yuxi, in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, authorities said Thursday.
A male elephant, which broke free from the herd five days ago, is now about 11.8 km away in a forest in Anning, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of the provincial capital Kunming. All the elephants are safe and sound, according to the headquarters in charge of monitoring their migration.
Continuous rainfall has complicated efforts to monitor the elephants. Authorities have dispatched emergency staff, vehicles and drones to help evacuate local residents, while ensuring the safety of the elephants. They fed 1.2 tons of food to the animals on Thursday.
The herd traveled approximately 500 km from their forest home in 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.