(Beijing) Dump trucks have lined the edges of homes in southwest China as a fortress against wild elephants that have escaped from a sanctuary that has already caused millions of yuan in damage.
Chinese TV reported that the 15 elephants, including three baby elephants, left the Xishuangbanna Reserve, a border area between Laos and Burma, in mid-April to head north some 500 kilometers away.
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The reason for their unusual migration remains a mystery, but the elephants ransacked cornfields on their way and caused extensive material damage.
On Sunday, state surveillance cameras broadcast footage of a convoy of trucks parked along a small country road in an attempt to keep the herd away from densely populated areas.
“We are here to fend off the elephants,” a driver in his red car told CCTV, and said he was acting at the request of the authorities.
“As long as I need to, I will stay here,” he said, on the outskirts of Kunming, a city of more than eight million people.
The authorities also mobilized thousands of people to follow the herd’s movements with drones and infrared cameras.
CCTV footage from the weekend showed elephants casually roaming the streets of a village, leaving behind flattened trees and damaged garage doors.
“I was scared,” a local woman told CCTV, saying she had come across an elephant “about three meters tall.”
“Even a baby elephant ran into our wall before running away,” said the old lady, whose name was not revealed.
Chinese television said last week that the elephants had destroyed about 56 hectares of crops since the start of their journey in mid-April, while the damage was estimated at 6.8 million yuan (870,000 euros).
Zoologists do not understand why the herd left their stock for such a long distance.
Wild elephants are protected in China, have an estimated population of about 300, compared to less than 200 in the 1980s, and they live exclusively in the tourist and tropical region of Xishuangbanna.
However, in recent years femoris tends to move closer to villages, while the plants that they usually eat are replaced by inedible species.
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