A herd of 15 Asian elephants in China is on an unprecedented journey: Over the past year, the pachyderms have wandered 300 miles from their home in Xishuangbanna, a nature reserve in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, north toward some unknown destination. Their travels have captivated the nation. No one knows why the elephants started migrating in the first place—or where they’re headed along the longest recorded elephant migration in China’s history.
Now, the family of elephants—six adult females, three adult males, and six juveniles—is lingering on the outskirts of Kunming, home to more than eight million people. In recent months, as they’ve drawn closer to the city, they’ve encroached on human settlements, raiding crops, wandering down streets, and searching for food in small towns. They’ve broken into kitchens and popped into a nursing home. Some reportedly may have gotten drunk on fermented grain. While most of the group has banded together, one male left the main herd and is now approximately 15 miles away from the rest.
As the herd’s antics have captured public attention throughout the country, experts are left with a daunting challenge: figuring out how to reduce interactions between the elephants and people…
Everyone likes elephant stories. This herd apparently had a happy home where they’ve been on a nature reserve for decades. Someone got the wanderlust … and off they went.