China’s migrating elephants are almost back home

Seven elephants, adults and kids, are lying in the grass close to each other
The Asian elephants are resting, Yunnan province, China, photo: China Daily via Reuters

The migrating herd of fourteen wild elephants are close to Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, their original home in Yunnan province, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

In March last year, the herd, then consisting of 16 elephants, left their home and settled in a protected habitat in Pu’er City. In April this year, 15 of the elephants left Pu’er and travelled 1300 km through Yunnan Province.

In June, one elephant left the group. He was captured and brought back to Xishuangbanna.

The herd is now in Mojiang Hani Autonomous County, approximately 103 km (64 miles) away from Xishuangbanna, according to CCTV.

It is not clear exactly why the elephants left their original habitat, but the space available for China’s last remaining native elephants has shrunk over the years. Asian elephants primarily live in tropical forests.

China’s wild elephant numbers have doubled to over 300 in the past three decades, but their habitats have shrunk by nearly two-thirds over the same period.

Humans destroyed the tropical forests of Xishuangbanna to build banana, tea or rubber plantations or to plant lucrative raw materials for traditional Chinese medicine.

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