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Wandering elephants wreak havoc in China’s Yunnan

15 wild elephants have trekked 300 miles

Migrating elephant herd headed into China's Kunming in June 2021.

Migrating elephant herd headed into China's Kunming in June 2021. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A herd of 15 elephants that have been on the road for a year and three months in China’s Yunnan Province has caused a great deal of damage along the way.

As of May 27, the herd had destroyed 842 acres of farmland within 40 days, a loss equal to NT$29 million (US$1 million), according to Beijing News. The loss will be reimbursed to the villagers once the work of damage inspection is done, said Xiang Ru-wu, director of the Yunnan Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Conflict between humans and elephants in Yunnan has long been a problem. According to Beijing News, there were 4,600 incidents between 2011 and 2019, with over 50 injuries.

Kunming sent out an emergency message saying that elephants were entering the city on the night of June 3. Though some have enjoyed the lovely scenes of elephants roaming the streets, the pachyderms have disturbed many others by destroying houses and ruining farmlands, UDN reported.

Beginning in March of last year, the elephants traveled over 300 miles, with one of them even delivering a baby along the way. They used to live at the Mengyang Preserve Area in Yunnan’s Xishuangbannan. They are now heading into Kunming, the provincial capital, which has a population of over 6.6 million, UDN reported.

The migration of the elephants suggests their habitat had degraded, CNA reported. The elephants proliferated in number due to protections offered by the reserve, but the quality of its land also greatly decreased due to environmental pollution, according to Chang Li, an ecology professor from Beijing Normal University.

Over the past 20 years, Xishuangbannan has had its Asian elephant habitat area shrink by 40 percent. Primeval forests have been replaced by rubber and tea farms, he added.

Updated : 2021-07-30 10:28 GMT+08:00