A critically injured baby elephant left by a migrating wild herd in southwest China has been rescued, state media reported on Tuesday, the latest twist in a chaotic odyssey.
The herd of Asian elephants have spent months roaming Yunnan Province, traversing more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) from their original nature reserve in one of the longest animal migrations of its kind in China. .
Since leaving last year, the meandering mammals have stolen food from villagers and trampled on crops worth more than a million dollars, and thousands of residents have been evacuated from their path.
Residents saw the baby elephant – weighing 180 kilograms and born on a long hike – alone on a tea plantation on Saturday morning, struggling with an infected leg wound.
The elephant’s injury could have been life threatening if authorities had not arrived and provided treatment, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
“We gave him antibacterial and anti-inflammatory drugs because his wound still looks pretty bad,” Bao Mingwei, director of the Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center, told CCTV, adding that with a longer period of care, he should be able to fully recover.
“It is possible that something like rattan thorns stung him and the wounds slowly became infected. “
State media footage showed a dozen rescuers and police surrounding the animal in a rainforest glade, as they tied its struggling limbs with a rope and loaded it into a van.
The elephant was then driven 100 kilometers to a rescue center.
Last week, a 10-year-old male elephant that separated from the herd a month ago was captured and returned to a nature reserve.
Scientists are still bewildered by what prompted the elephants to leave their homes in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, on the border with Laos.
But their mammoth trek has highlighted habitat loss and conservation challenges in one of the few places in the world where wild elephant numbers are on the rise.
China’s wild elephant population has doubled to over 300 over the past three decades, but their habitats have shrunk by nearly two-thirds during the same period.
© 2021 AFP