by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
A herd of 15 Asian elephants has been making its way North across China since March 2020, and nobody is quite sure why, reports Vivian Wang for the New York Times.
The herd has covered more than 300 miles since they wandered out of their home in the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, located in southwestern China along its border with Laos and Myanmar.
As the elephants have traversed the Chinese countryside, they’ve caused a good bit of mischief in the villages they’ve passed through. According to BBC News, the herd has mowed down around $1 million worth of crops. One report even claims one of the younger members of the group became intoxicated after bolting down a cache of fermented grain.
Authorities in China have tried to keep the roving pachyderms away from populated areas with piles of fruit and vegetables as well as physical barriers, reports John Ruwitch of NPR. Alas, the herd was spotted on the outskirts of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province and a city home to some eight million people, last Wednesday, according to the Times.