A crew of wildlife conservationists has been following a herd of elephants as they journeyed across China for more than a year to make sure the animals are safe during their trek. Drones proved invaluable for monitoring the Asian elephants from afar as not to disturb them. They also provided priceless footage of the elephants dozing off in a patch of forest in Xiyang Township.
The herd of 15 has been on the move for more than 15 months, traveling more than 300 miles (480 km) from their home. During their trek, the elephants wandered through populated areas of Yunnan province, much to the delight of locals, as well as fields. Actually, not everyone was happy with the elephants. Local authorities estimate that the elephants have devoured millions of dollars worth of crops and even damaged some buildings as they moved their huge mass across the province.
It's not clear yet why the elephants took this route, but it looks like the herd has had enough and is turning around to head back to their natural habitat, believed to be the Mengyangzi Nature Reserve in Xishuangbanna, in the southwest Yunnan province.
The Asian elephant is the largest land mammal on the Asian continent. They inhabit dry to wet forest and grassland habitats in 13 range countries spanning South and Southeast Asia, including China. Unfortunately, the majestic beasts are endangered with extinction due to habitat loss, poaching, and, in some instances, hunting by humans. Only an estimated 300 individuals are out in the wild in China.