A herd of 15 wild Asian elephants has entered the outskirts of the major southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, Yunnan Province, where local authorities are on high alert to ensure the safety of both citizens and the herd.
The elephants traveled approximately 500 km from their forest home in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture before reaching Jinning District in Kunming, the provincial capital, at 9:55 p.m. Wednesday.
As of early Thursday, no casualties have been reported, according to a local headquarters set up to ensure the safety of the elephant migration.
The provincial forestry and grassland bureau has transferred teams responsible for drone monitoring and emergency handling as well as Asian elephant experts. The teams will forecast the migration route and guide locals to take precautions.
Twelve drones have been deployed to monitor the herd around the clock. Construction trucks have been sent to block roads to local villages, and the evacuation of villagers has been organized.
Local authorities have also used food to distract the elephants from entering densely populated areas.
According to the latest census, Kunming has a population of 8.46 million.
Asian elephants are under A-level state protection in China, where they are mostly found in Yunnan. Thanks to enhanced protection, the wild elephant population in the province has grown to about 300, up from 193 in the 1980s.