A herd of elephants set out for a journey several hundred kilometers in southwest China, crossing cities and highways, while looting crops on their way.
Chinese TV reported that the 15 elephants, including three baby elephants, left the Xishuangbanna game reserve, a border area between Laos and Burma, in mid-April to head north for nearly 500 kilometers.
On Tuesday, the herd was only 20 kilometers from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, which has a population of several million.
National television broadcast images of animals crossing cities at night, positioning themselves on main roads or plundering cornfields. Their movement is closely monitored by the residents and the authorities, who are equipped with drones in order to avoid any danger to the residents.
Over the past week, the elephants emptied a farm’s water tank and grain stocks, according to TV, which estimates damage since the start of their journey at 6.8 million yuan (870,000 euros), with 56 hectares of crops destroyed.
In an effort to guide them, the authorities try to lure them with food and cut off roads with trucks.
Zoologists do not understand why the herd left their stock for such a long distance.
However, outbreaks in recent years tend to get closer to villages, while the plants that they usually eat are replaced by inedible species.
Wild elephants are protected in China, with an estimated population of about 300, compared to less than 200 in the 1980s, and they live exclusively in the tourist and tropical region of Xishuangbanna.