Aug. 10 (UPI) — A herd of elephants that have been wandering throughout China neared the nature reserve on Monday that they had departed from more than a year ago.
The 14 elephants were in Yuanjing County on Sunday night, about 125 miles away from the reserve in the southwestern province of Yunnan after days of making their way back south.
The provincial government said officials would continue to work on returning the elephants to their natural habitat as they have tracked the herd with drones and guided them across the Yuanjiang River while opening a path back to the nature reserve.
The National Forestry and Grassland Administration said they were in a “suitable habitat” after making their way across the river.
Experts have also anticipated low temperatures are likely to push the elephants to return to the reserve more quickly.
In June, officials expressed concern as the herd approached the capital city of Kunming in the province of Yunnan.
A herd of 16 elephants began its migration in March 2020 and arrived in Pu’er in the Yunnan province in November, where they settled for five months as a female elephant gave birth.
Two elephants left the group and the remaining 15 continued north.
Later one male wandered away from the pack and was tranquilized and ultimately returned to the nature reserve.
Throughout their journey the elephants traveled more than 300 miles north, capturing the attention of social media and causing more than $1 million in damage including eating whole cornfields and smashing barns and cars.