China’s herd of Elephants head home after year-long odyssey

The herd of elephants that escaped from their reserve a year ago is now 200km away from making their way back home.

The group of 14 Asian elephants left their reserve at the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture for unknown reasons a year ago.

The herd garnered global publicity as they journeyed into urban southwest China and roamed more than 500 kilometres north.

baby elephants
Image: Sydney Morning Herald

They invaded farms and even a retirement home for food. Yet, despite their size, no humans or animals had been injured during their journey.

The herd now finally seem to be heading home.

Local authorities have deployed trucks and drones to monitor the elephants and evacuate roads for them to pass safely.

After reaching Kunming, a centre for business and tourism, they are turning south again. However, they are still very far from the reserve, around 200km as of Sunday.

One male elephant that strayed from the herd was tranquillised and returned home.

Despite the long distance to their home, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration said the animals were in a “suitable habitat” after crossing the river.

Asian elephants are among China’s most highly protected animals due to their shrinking habitat because of expanded farming and urban growth.

The Provincial Government said the herd has made significant progress, and they would continue to work on getting the elephants back in their natural habitat.

Wandering elephant herd may be heading home after yearlong China trek https://t.co/vKmxF0y8Os pic.twitter.com/y4ezDRxq5q

— New York Post (@nypost) August 9, 2021