For the past 17 months, a herd of elephants has grabbed headlines across the world for their epic adventure, that has spanned China. No one knows why China’s wandering elephants began their journey in the first place, however it appears they now seem to be heading home!
The 14 Asian elephants, all of different shapes and sizes, were guided alongside the Yuanjiang river, and a path was made for them to return to the nature reserve in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. However, they are still 200km away from the reserve.
Their return completes a more than 500km round trip that has captivated people around the world. Highlights include the birth of a calf in Pu’er in November, causing more than $1m in damage, and for going viral for taking a destructive nap!
They were closely monitored by a team of eight people, who kept them away from residential areas, and tracked them with a drone for 24 hours a day.
The elephants however were not welcomes by all whose paths they crossed, with some locals complaining that the elephants had eaten truckloads of pineapples, and even entire fields of corn! There were even some reports that they may have gotten slightly drunk on fermented grain!
There was also some further drama, when they came across poisonous mushrooms in Yunnan, that grow during the wet season. The topic “Will elephants eat the poisonous mushrooms” quickly began trending on Weibo, eventually being viewed more than 120m times!
Despite their apparent wondering home, there is no guarantee that they will stay there for long. Shen Qingzhong, a senior engineer at the nature reserve where they began their journey, told reporters “It was almost certain that the elephants will start moving north again eventually”.
Even if their return to home is delayed, the elephants have done a remarkable job in raising the global awareness of the plight of the endangered species.
Interested in helping the elephants on their journey? Discover how to help give them directions in Chinese in our blog post here.