China's famous herd of wandering elephants has shown a trend of returning south after their northward trek of some 500 km in southwest China's Yunnan Province, an expert said.
The herd entered Eshan County in the city of Yuxi at 9:48pm on Thursday. They traveled 13.5 km northwest, according to the headquarters in charge of monitoring their migration.
A male elephant, which strayed 13 days ago, is about 24.7 km away from the herd now. All 15 elephants are safe.
Shen Qingzhong, an expert with the headquarters, said despite a preliminary study suggesting a returning trend, the herd's specific routes are still to be determined after further research.
The elephants traveled about 500 km from their forest home in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture before reaching Kunming, the provincial capital, late on June 2.
For over a month, authorities have sent police to escort the herd, evacuated roads to facilitate their passage, and used food to distract them from entering densely populated areas.
Asian elephants are primarily found in Yunnan and are under A-level state protection in China. Thanks to enhanced protection efforts, the wild elephant population in the province grew to about 300, up from 193 in the 1980s.