A parade of wild elephants have traveled 300 miles towards a city and no one knows why, with researchers calling the migration “unprecedented” in China.
“We have no way of telling where they are going,” Chen Mingyong, a professor at Yunnan University who studies wild elephants, told state broadcaster CCTV, according to The Washington Post. “It is common for Asian elephants to migrate, but in the past, that has mostly been to look for food within their habitats,” he added. “An exodus this far north is quite rare.”
Check out this clip of the traveling crew.
— BBC News 中文 (@bbcchinese) May 31, 2021
Chinese researchers reportedly said the family of 15 Asian elephants started on the trek in March of 2020 from their home, a nature reserve in Xishuangbanna near China’s border with Laos and Myanmar. The group was near the outskirts of Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, as of Wednesday, The Washington Post reported. (RELATED: Watch: Great White Shark Surprises Australia Cops [VIDEO])
The parade of elephants has traveled across fields, highways, villages and towns, and has reportedly stolen crops and rolled around in villagers’ courtyards searching for food. (RELATED: Watch This Herd Of Cows Help Police Take Down A Car Thief Suspect [VIDEO])
The family, which has been labeled “The Northbound Wild Elephant Eating and Walking Tour,” even left muddy footprints at a car dealership where they broke in and drank buckets of water, according to The Washington Post. The outlet also noted that the herd has so far caused about $1.1 million in lost crops.
Attempts have reportedly been made to lure the wild animals from their trek back home with police sirens and trucks laden with food, but those actions have proven futile.
Researchers reportedly said the elephants could be on a quest for food and territory as a result of their shrinking habitat in the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve in Yunnan.
“We’ve seen elephants expanding their range for decades now, as their populations increase, and they search for more food for the growing herd,” explained Becky Shu Chen, a conservation project coordinator at the Zoological Society of London who has studied elephant-human interactions.
Still, Chen Mingyong said that it is possible the leader of the herd is just inexperienced and got it wrong, according to The Washington Post. “Maybe it got it wrong but still thinks it’s going the right way.”