Fifteen elephants are approaching the Chinese city of Kunming. They have travelled 500km from their habitat in a nature reserve near the borders with Myanmar and Laos. They are nearing the outskirts of the city of 6.6 million people. They have travelled along highways and through farms over the past few months. They have feasted on kilos of corn and other crops from fields. Their journey has captivated the Chinese public.
Experts are setting up barriers to get the elephants to go back towards their nature reserve. No one knows why the animals walked so far. One reason could be a decline in the amount of edible plants in their reserve, especially supplies of their favourite foods. Another reason could be a rise in their numbers, from 193 in the 1980s to around 300 today. A further possibility is that the elephants' leader could have led them astray.