The herd, which includes three elephants, in mid-April left the Xishuangbana Reserve, an area on the border with Laos and Myanmar, heading north. Since then, it has traveled 500 kilometers, according to the Chinese press.
Last Tuesday, the herd was 20 kilometers from the city of Kunming, with a population of nearly seven million, the capital of Yunnan Province.
Television broadcasts images of elephants crossing cities at night, stranded on main roads or destroying cornfields.
The “pilgrimage” is closely monitored by residents and guarded by police drones. An aerial photo of the sleeping flock was taken this week.
Television reported that the elephants last week emptied a water tank and grain stocks at a farm.
Since the march began, the herd has caused damage of 6.8 million yuan (nearly one million euros), including the destruction of 56 hectares of agricultural fields.
Authorities are trying to steer the herd’s path, luring elephants with food and blocking driveways with trucks.
Zoologists do not understand why the elephants left the reserve where they lived and began such a long journey.
In recent years, elephants tend to move closer to inhabited areas due to agriculture replacing the animals’ favorite plants with inedible species.
Wild elephants are protected in China. Currently, there are about 300 versus 200 in the 1980s.
They live exclusively in the tourist and tropical region of Xishuangbanna.