The migrating herd of elephants graze near Shuanghe Township, Jinning District of Kunming city in southwestern China's Yunnan Province (Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade)

The migrating herd of elephants graze near Shuanghe Township, Jinning District of Kunming city in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province (Yunnan Forest Fire Brigade)

Chinese wildlife authorities are planning to tempt a famous herd of migrating elephants with food baits and set up road blocks to direct them towards a suitable habitat, as the animals continue on their path to Yunnan province, the state media reported.

The elephants became a global sensation with their trek of over 500 kilometres from their home in a wildlife reserve in Southwest China’s Yunnan province to the outskirts of the provincial capital of Kunming, with every move of the herd reported widely. Their videos are viral on Chinese social media sites as well as on Twitter and YouTube.

Chinese authorities deployed hundreds of personnel last week to keep track of their movement and prevent any conflict if they land up in a human settlement. According to Xinhua, a total of 319 personnel, more than 600 vehicles and 18 drones were monitoring the herd and a total of 3,548 people were evacuated on Saturday.

The authorities have kept an eye on the group for over a month, including sending police to evacuate roads or distract them away from a densely populated area.

The group took a break on Monday for a day during which they were captured sleeping together in a patch of forest on the outskirts of southwest China’s Kunming. The video of the herd sleeping also went viral.

The Chinese authorities have reported that instead of 15, now 14 elephants continue to move ahead in their journey reaching the Shijie Township in the city of Yuxi after another elephant broke away from the herd eight days ago and stayed in the Jinning District of Kunming.

Asian elephants are at the threat of extinction and continue to be under A-level state protection in China. They are mostly found in Yunnan province. In recent decades, the number of elephants in the province has almost doubled due to enhanced protection efforts. Wildlife experts believe that could be a possible reason behind the migration.

“The reason for the migration of this herd is still unclear, but the possible reasons could be lack of food supply, elephants number growth, and the most important – habitat loss,” Evan Sun, Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, China, said.

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