China was stunned by elephants’ long journey from Yunnan

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The 15-person cattle herd has traveled hundreds of kilometers north from their habitat on the Burmese border, and there is no sign of turning back.

A herd of wild elephants traversed China’s southern border provinces, attracting the attention of millions of Chinese social media users, but also highlighting the country’s rapidly shrinking forest habitat due to development.

CCTV footage of 15 elephants, including three calves, has been broadcast on TV and shared on social media, showing the herd of elephants stomping on the streets of Yunnan Province.

The Asian elephant has moved more than 400 kilometers (248 miles) from the usual range of movement on the border of Myanmar and is now located outside the provincial capital Kunming, which has a population of approximately 8 million.

Their trip to the north was monitored online by millions of people, although they were not warmly welcomed by everyone.

Farmer Guo Zhuguang said that after midnight on Wednesday, he was awakened by an elephant forcibly breaking into his yard.

On May 27, 2021, a group of elephants walks along a road in Eshan City, Yunnan Province, China. The picture comes from a video on social media. [Eshan County Fang Yuan Car Care Center/ via Reuters]

As the elephant chewed in his stored corn, Guo climbed up his roof for safety.

“I’m scared. The local government wants me to leave. But I didn’t expect the elephants to actually break into my house, so I chose to stay at home,” he told Al Jazeera.

“That was a mistake.”

The destruction did not stop there. The elephant trampled his rice fields and smashed his fences.

Officials said the group destroyed property worth more than one million dollars.

Al Jazeera reporter Katrina Yu from Kunming said that as the elephants slowly approached the city, hundreds of police officers have been deployed to set up checkpoints to prevent bystanders from entering.

“The authorities are worried that crowds too close to the herd may pose a threat to animals and people,” Yu said.

In recent years, several farmers in China have lost their lives due to encounters with elephants.

Although elephants have wandered outside their habitat in China’s forest reserve before, this is the first time they have traveled so far to the north.

“The main driving factor is the reduction and fragmentation of tropical rainforests, where they live,” said Wenjing Pan of Greenpeace East Asia.

“The reason is the expansion of human activities, such as plantations, such as tea and rubber, and construction.”

Although the animal’s habitat has decreased, the number of elephants in the area-now more than 300-is increasing.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the authorities are tracking these animals and using food bait to ensure their safety and prevent them from coming into contact with people.

According to reports, the authorities also tried to return the elephants to their original habitat and set up roadblocks to try to bring them back.

But as the picture suggests, the stray elephants are still enjoying their little adventures.



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