Chinese authorities have marshalled extraordinary resources to monitor a herd of traveling elephants and to keep it away from residential areas.
Media reports quoted the Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade as saying that a team of eight people have been tracking the elephants, around the clock, on the ground and by drone.
In the latest update, authorities said that the herd of wild Asian elephants had been tracked to a forest just outside a village in Xiyang Township, in Yunnan Province, about 90km southwest of the city of Kunming, heading back in the direction they came from.
Photo: CCTV / AFP
Drone images showed the elephants lying down in the forest, resting during their travels, which have so far covered 500km.
On Monday, more than 410 emergency personnel, 374 vehicles and 14 drones were deployed with more than two tonnes of elephant food, in continuing efforts to lead the elephants away from human areas and evacuate people in their path.
“Temporary traffic control will be implemented on some road sections to keep them calm, and create conditions for the elephants to move westward and south,” Beijing News said.
Wildlife authorities are struggling to understand why the group of 16 elephants went on the move last year.
They arrived in Puer in Yunnan, where a female elephant gave birth to a baby, and settled in place for five months before starting to walk again on April 16, Xinhua news agency reported.
A week later, two left the group, leaving 15 to continue their odyssey to the north.
The group appears to be back on the right track, heading southwest, although authorities on Monday reported that one male elephant was tracked away from the group, 4km to the northeast.
The travels of the elephants, first detected leaving their natural habitat in March last year, have captivated Chinese social media, although the herd has at times caused at least 6.8 million yuan (US$1.06 million) in damage, media reports said.
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