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Rampaging herd of 15 elephants hit huge city of 7m as they trek 300-miles after being led by ‘inexperienced pack leader’


A RAMPAGING herd of 15 elephants has hit a huge Chinese city after being led on a 300-mile trek by an “inexperienced pack leader”.

The wandering animals have destroyed 56 hectares of farmland and caused more than $1.1 million worth of damage after escaping from a nature reserve in the province of Yunnan in April.

The herd of elephants reached the outskirts of Kunming after a 40-day trek

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The herd of elephants reached the outskirts of Kunming after a 40-day trekCredit: SWNS
The herd caused chaos after stealing 100kg of fermented grains from a village distillery

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The herd caused chaos after stealing 100kg of fermented grains from a village distilleryCredit: SWNS
The animals have barged through rural villages and smashed property

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The animals have barged through rural villages and smashed propertyCredit: SWNS

The elephants have travelled hundreds of miles in 40 days from Xishuangbanna and hit the provincial capital of Kunming of 7 million people on Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the local government issued a notice urging residents not to leave corn or other food out in their yards as the elephants descended on the city, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Residents were told not to “surround and gawk at the elephants” or to disturb them by using firecrackers or other materials, the notice said.

The animals have barged through numerous villages on their journey, smashing property, trampling chicken coops and even stealing 100kg of fermented grains from a village distillery, The Times reports.

Incredible video footage shows the elephants wandering through rural villages, apparently undisturbed by the blaring sirens used to warn terrified residents.

It’s not clear why the herd made their long trek from a nature reserve, which has been monitored by a dozen drones.

Chen Mingyong, a professor at Yunnan University who studies wild elephants, said “inexperienced leadership” of the elephant in charge could explain the long journey to nowhere.

“Maybe it got it wrong but still thinks it’s going the right way,” he told state broadcaster CCTV.

The herd causing chaos in E'shan county in southwestern China's Yunnan Province

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The herd causing chaos in E’shan county in southwestern China’s Yunnan ProvinceCredit: AP
Officials have urged people in the area to stay indoors

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Officials have urged people in the area to stay indoorsCredit: AP
Authorities have refused to use tranquillisers to stop their march

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Authorities have refused to use tranquillisers to stop their marchCredit: AP

On Tuesday, the curious elephants turned up at a retirement home in Yuxi and poked their trunks into some of the rooms, prompting one elderly man to hide under his bed, Jimu News reports.

Officials urged people in the area to stay indoors and blocked roads with construction equipment while trying to lure the animals away with food.

“You can feel the vibration of every step,” a villager told state media.

“I feigned death and didn’t move at all. I barely dared to breathe.”

Authorities deployed hundreds of trucks along a road in a desperate bid to stop the herd from unleashing chaos in the city of Yuxi, Beijing News reports.

Drivers ate and slept in the vehicles for days, even as they heard the elephants moving about after dark, the newspaper said.

Authorities have refused to use tranquillisers to stop their march, fearing they would just anger the animals, The Times reports.

Drones have been used to monitor and track the elephants on their path of destruction

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Drones have been used to monitor and track the elephants on their path of destructionCredit: SWNS
A herd of 17 left the natural reserve in the county of Mojiang6, but two turned around

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A herd of 17 left the natural reserve in the county of Mojiang6, but two turned aroundCredit: SWNS
Some experts believe the elephants left the nature reserve due to the shrinking rainforests

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Some experts believe the elephants left the nature reserve due to the shrinking rainforestsCredit: SWNS
The drone used to track the herd of elephants

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The drone used to track the herd of elephantsCredit: Rex

“We cannot turn around the herd at will, given that we don’t know the exact reason why the elephants are migrating,” Ran Jingcheng, a researcher of wildlife and forest plants, told Beijing News.

Some experts believe the elephants left the nature reserve due to the shrinking rainforests and a lack of suitable food.

“The size of the rain forests has dwindled, and that caused the wild Asian elephants to leave their home in Xishuangbanna,” Zhang Li, a professor of ecology who specialises in the study of Asian elephants, told Beijing News.

“The expansion of elephant families also increases the odds for them to venture out for a new home.”

A herd of 17 left the natural reserve in the county of Mojiang on April 16, but two turned around and went back.

Six females, three males and three youngsters continued their trek and reached the county of Eshan on May 24. 

After spending six days there, the herd arrived in Yuxi, with a population of 460,000.

When and how the elephants will be returned to the reserve isn’t clear.

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