Wild Asian elephants enjoy life after returning home




The 14 wild Asian elephants that made headlines around the world after embarking on an epic trek in southwest China have been enjoying a leisurely time since they returned to their traditional habitat in Mojiang Hani Autonomous County of Yunnan Province last Thursday night.

The wild elephants have caught global attention again by moving eight kilometers southwest since they entered Mojiang. In the early morning of last Saturday, they were spotted taking a rest in a forest in Xiaozhuxi Village of Mojiang.

Under the guidance of the leading elephant, the giant creatures queued or divided into groups to find food in the forest abound with mango, longan, terminalia myriocarpa and toona ciliate.

As the adult elephants were enjoying the tasty food, a touching image of a baby elephant suckling milk from its mother was filmed by drones.

People who monitor the creatures, which are under first-class state protection in China, have undergone an arduous task over the past three months.

Yunnan authorities have evacuated more than 150,000 residents to avoid the conflict between people and the herd, according to a news conference held Monday in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province.

Over 25,000 police officers and staff were dispatched, and a large number of vehicles and drones were deployed to monitor and guide the migrating elephants. Some 180 tonnes of food have been provided to the elephants during their migration.

In March 2020, a herd of 16 wild Asian elephants left their home at the Xishuangbanna national-level nature reserve near the borders with Laos and Myanmar. By December 2020, the herd had trekked about 300 kilometers north, and arrived in Mojiang County of Pu'er City, where an elephant calf was born.

The herd then continued their journey northward for about 50 kilometers and arrived in Yuanjiang County of Yuxi City on April 16, 2021. But on April 24, two members of the herd headed back to Mojiang. In early June, a 10-year old male elephant broke away from the marching herd and was sent back to Xishuangbanna 31 days later.

In mid-June, the remaining 14 members of the herd started returning south after their northward trek of some 500 kilometers in the province.

They were guided across a bridge over Yuanjiang River on August 8 and returned to their traditional habitat in Mojiang County on August 12, also the 10th World Elephant Day.

(Cover image via screenshot.)

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