2021-06-10 18:28

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Millions of People Can't Stop Watching the Wandering Elephants

Millions of People in China Can't Stop

Watching a Pack of Wandering Elephants


[Photo/CNN]


For more than a week, China has been gripped by a new internet sensation: a herd of 15 marauding elephants, who are large, lost and wrecking havoc in the China's southwest.


Millions have tuned in to livestreams of the elephants, which have moved more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) across the country since escaping from a nature reserve in South China last year.


Unsurprisingly, breakout stars have emerged. Viewers are particularly charmed by the herd's three calves, including one who was born during the epic journey, according to Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times.


More than 8 million people watched a video captured this week showing a calf who found itself stuck under an adult elephant during a group nap near the city of Kunming, in southwestern Yunnan province.



"Will they get cold while sleeping?" worried one user on social media site Weibo as pictures of the herd's naptime went viral. "I want to tuck them up under a quilt."


It's still unclear why the elephants are making the journey to north. Some have posited that shrinking rainforests in their home may have prompted the trip. Others say they could just be lost -- something that also worries elephant fans online.


"It's really sad that we don't know when they will reach their destination," another user wrote on Weibo.


Degraded environment

[Photo/CNN]


There's a more serious side to the elephant entertainment. Biologists see the situation as a warning of what happens when elephant habitats are degraded.


Asian elephants are considered a protected species in China, and around 300 of them live in Yunnan, according to Xinhua.


Over the last few decades, agriculture has led to a loss of elephant habitats, leaving herds fragmented and isolated in ever-shrinking plots of land, according to a paper in Nature. Many elephants are forced to forage for food in agricultural areas instead, leading to a rise in human-elephant conflict in the last 10 years -- something authorities are clearly keenly aware of.


Authorities have been trying to steer the elephants away from populated areas to prevent any clashes. At the end of May, authorities set up a 24-hour command center to monitor the elephants.


But the only way to prevent a future elephant exodus is to restore their habitats and protect natural resources, said Zhang Li, a wildlife biologist and professor at Beijing Normal University.


He also mentioned, "The traditional buffer zones between humans and elephants are gradually disappearing, and the chances of elephants' encountering humans naturally increase greatly.


Source: CNN



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