Wandering Elephants: Farmlands damaged, no direct harm to humans so far

A herd of 15 migrating Asian elephants has remained in the suburbs area of Kunming for days, wandering in villages for food and water. What kind of effect has their presence had on people’s lives? CGTN reporter Ma Ke finds out.

The elephants’ movements have become somewhat unpredictable since they entered Jinning District of suburban Kunming on Wednesday. They travelled northwestwards on Thursday, then southwestwards on Friday, and back towards the north again on Saturday.

So they’ve entered this village in Jinning twice in a week, surprising the residents.

“I was scared of the big ones. They were about three meters tall! I didn’t get too close, so they left me alone. I also saw three little ones. They were only this tall. One baby elephant tried to climb on its sibling’s back. They were playing.”

Apart from giving many a scare with a close encounter, the elephants also left behind a trail of damage as they foraged for food on their journey.

“We were sleeping in the attic. At around one o’clock in the morning, we heard noises. I looked through the window and saw two adult elephants in the yard eating. They ate over 200 kilos of corn and killed my chickens.”

“They trampled on my rice field first. But there was nothing to eat. So they went up and found my barn and ate all of my grain.”

MA KE Xinzhai Village, south of Kunming “Over here in the fourth room they found what they came looking for – food. As you can see, they’ve eaten almost all of the owner’s corn powder storage, leaving behind a huge mess by knocking over the utensils. And over here is a huge crack caused by the elephants, so just imagine their strength.”

There’ve been over 400 incidents involving the animals damaging properties since leaving natural habitat in Xishuangbanna last March. Government workers in Kunming need to work around the clock to register these losses.

Apart from farmers and government workers, an unexpected group of people have been closely involved in the elephant migration – truck drivers.

TRUCK DRIVER “I’m here to block the elephants. My company dispatched the whole team from Yuxi. I eat and sleep on the truck. We need to be ready 24/7. As long as I’m needed, I’ll stay here.”

With the other districts of Kunming on high alert for the tired and hungry herd, it remains to be seen how the residents receive the unexpected guests. Ma Ke, CGTN, Kunming.