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The herd of wild Asian elephants attracted national attention after leaving the Yunnan province reserve last year and walking more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) north. They reached the outskirts of Kunming city before returning south again but are still far from the reserve.

At the beginning of July, a lone elephant that left the herd more than a month ago was captured near Yuxi city and returned to the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve.

It had traveled by itself more than 190 kilometers (118 miles) and survived on food prepared by local authorities or found it alone.

Authorities said the 10-year-old elephant, weighing 1.8 tons, stopped near populated areas and posed a danger to public safety, implying the decision to tranquilize it and sent it to the reserve by truck. Following the consultation, veterinarians found no external injuries to the elephant. It entered the rainforest and took a bath in the river after the release, the Yunnan government said.

At first, the herd consisted of 16 elephants. One returned on its own. Authorities say the remaining six adult females, three adult males, two juveniles, and three calves appear to be healthy.

The herd continues its endless journey and is constantly monitored by dozens of drones and hundreds of police officers.

Some experts see the elephant walk as an extreme search for more valuable sources. Asian elephants are a preserved specie in China and, due to preservation efforts, their population has increased to about 300 in four decades. Around 40% of their habitat in southern Yunnan has been lost due to commercial development over the past 20 years.

If you want to find out the beginning of this story, check out our article on this topic: China’s migrating wild elephant herd reveals a severe problem.

[Photo from Pixabay]