Chinese elephant herd's breakaway male sent home
A lone elephant who broke away from a herd marching through southern China has been returned to a nature reserve, officials said, in the latest twist for a journey that has caused chaos but captivated Chinese social media.
He was part of a herd of Asian elephants that have spent months rambling across the province, traveling over 500 kilometers from the nature reserve in one of the longest-ever animal migrations of its kind in China.
Since setting off in spring last year, they have pilfered shops and trampled crops worth over US$1 million, and thousands of residents have been evacuated from their path.
The solo 10-year-old strayed from the group a month ago.
On Wednesday the animal, weighing over 1.8 tons, was tranquilized and taken to the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, the wildlife department in Yunnan Province said.
After being released in the reserve, state broadcaster CCTV showed him foraging for food among lush green foliage before taking a dip in a river.
Male elephants usually leave their mother's herd to live alone or in small groups with other males as they reach sexual maturity.
Scientists are still baffled by what prompted the elephants to leave their home at the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, on the border with Laos.