One of China’s wandering elephants is returned to reserve

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In this photo released by the Yunnan Provincial Command Center for the Safety and Monitoring of North Migrating Asian Elephants, a lone elephant that has separated from a herd of Asian elephants migrating north, is seen near Yuxi city in Southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. The lone elephant was anesthetized, and returned to the reserve after separating from the main herd for more than 32 days. (Yunnan Provincial Command Center for the Safety and Monitoring of North Migrating Asian Elephants via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — A male Asian elephant that had separated from a herd and was wandering southwest China for over a year has been returned to its nature reserve.

The lone elephant was captured in Yuxi city and sent back to the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, about 175 miles away, on Wednesday, a command center monitoring the elephants said.

It appeared healthy and did not suffer from any injuries, the Yunnan provincial government said in a social media post.

In this photo taken July 7, 2021, and released by the Yunnan Provincial Command Center for the Safety and Monitoring of North Migrating Asian Elephants, a lone elephant that has separated from a herd of Asian elephants migrating north, is seen near Yuxi city in Southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. The lone elephant was anesthetized, and returned to the reserve after separating from the main herd for more than 32 days. (Yunnan Provincial Command Center for the Safety and Monitoring of North Migrating Asian Elephants via AP)

The remaining 14 elephants have been moving southward recently but are still far from the reserve.

The lone elephant had been wandering on its own for more than a month, and had shown no intention to return to its herd, according to Yunnan Provincial Command Center for the Safety and Monitoring of North Migrating Asian Elephants.

It had relied heavily on food that the command center provided or that it found in villagers’ homes, and had stayed in a rural neighborhood very close to a highway and a major railroad since Monday.

The elephant’s frequent activities in populated areas prompted concerns of local authorities, who made the decision to send the elephant back to reduce public safety risk.

More than 200 people, dozens of emergency vehicles and 20 drones have been deployed to monitor the elephants, according to the command center.

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