Chinese state media reported Monday that authorities are continuing to monitor the wandering herd of 15 wild Asian elephants that has been in the suburbs of Kunming, Yunnan province, in southwestern China, since last week.
State broadcaster CCTV reported rain and cooler temperatures kept the elephants from moving far and confined them in a small area in Xiyang Township in the Jinning District.
The broadcaster reported that one of the herd’s adult male elephants left the others Sunday and headed northeast to an area that was 1.5 kilometers away from the rest of his companions and has not yet returned. His departure prompted local authorities to restudy the herd's possible travel routes and update contingency plans.
Meanwhile, local authorities have been monitoring the elephants with a task force of hundreds of people, vehicles and a dozen drones. The elephants have not harmed any people but caused considerable damage. CCTV aired video of yards trampled and some buildings damaged by the elephants foraging in neighborhoods.
State media report more than $1 million in crops have been damaged, as well.
To prevent the elephants from entering residential and business areas, local officials have blocked roads, using heavy industrial trucks. They have been trying to guide the elephants to move west or southwest to avoid populated areas.
Experts are not sure why the herd — composed of six female and three male adults, three juveniles and three calves — left their home in southern Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture.