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China: After a journey of 500 kilometers in 17 months, the herd of wandering elephants heads “home”

After an epic 17-month journey, China’s famous herd of wandering elephants seems to be finally heading home. Animals They were guided across the Yuanjiang River in Yunnan on Sunday night and a path was opened for them to return to the nature reserve in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture.

The return of the 14 elephants completes an odyssey of more than 500 kilometers, that started in March 2020 when 16 elephants left the nature reserve in southwestern China’s Yunnan province to move north, Y it captivated the whole world.

The Highlights of his trip included the birth of a calf in Pu’er City, Mojiang County, in November last year and damage of more than 6.8 million yuan, according to estimates by the state broadcaster CGTN

But perhaps the most striking was a nap in the woods that went viral. In June, drone footage showed the herd sleeping in a forest outside a village in Xiyang Township. When they started to move again, more than 410 emergency personnel, 374 vehicles and 14 drones were deployed with more than two tons of food for elephants.

Local wildlife experts were unable to pin down the reason why the herd decided to move. But Zhang Li, a professor of mammal conservation at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times state in June that “Large-scale human engineering developments have exacerbated the ‘island’ of elephant habitats.”

This meant that “the traditional buffer zones between humans and elephants are gradually disappearing, and the chances of animals encountering humans naturally increase greatly,” he said.

The behavior of the wandering elephants was not well received by all, and some locals complained that whole fields of corn and trucks full of pineapples had been eaten. While a car dealer in Eshan County reported that six visiting elephants had drunk two tons of water in his shop.

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Asian elephants are among the most protected animals in China and their population has grown to about 300, despite the fact that their habitat has been reduced by urban and agricultural expansion.

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