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China coaxing wayward herd of elephants home

A drone image of the herd in Yunnan province.   | Photo Credit: AFP

First the entire village is shooed indoors, its power supply is cut, and finally bananas and other elephant treats are dumped on the opposite side of town to coax the uninvited guests to pass through.

So goes the routine welcome ceremony for China’s wayward herd of 14 wild elephants, whose wandering ways have sparked an unusual operation aimed at steering them home across steep, winding, and often populated terrain.

The group left its home range far south near the Laos border 16 months ago for a grand food tour across rich farmland in southeastern Yunnan province.

It’s a jumbo task for the three dozen Yunnan forestry firefighters charged with shepherding the elephants safely home — tracking night-moving animals that can disappear into thick forest and trek up to 30 kilometres a day using drones.

It’s the furthest north that China’s wild Asian elephants have travelled in recorded times, said Yang Xiangyu, a task force leader. They’ve travelled more than 700 kilometres, Yang said, and though now pointed homeward, still have several hundred more to go.


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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 1:14:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-coaxing-wayward-herd-of-elephants-home/article35732953.ece

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