Already for days viral on local (Chinese) platforms are the elephants that are on their way to Kunming. Now Kunming even hit the international news with the elephants approaching Kunming.
Mind you the article is full of mistakes. For example it states that Yuxi is about 20 Km from Kunming while last time I checked it was about a 100 Km. As well adult males live solitary and are not part of a family group.
I personally think that the elephants are on their way to attend the COPI-15 Biodiversity Conference here in Kunming and they got the date wrong because it got postponed again and they never got that information.
They are planning to visit the Bad Monkey brewery in Yuxi. I have seen how much an elephant drinks, they might be sleeping it off until October.
Apparently two of the group after a night of boozing decided to go home. If the authorities wands them to go home that might be a way to do it. Place a few barrels of beer in their way and the next day they head home.
Mammoth migration: Drunk elephants rampage across China
They packed their trunks, hit the booze - then went on an orgy of destruction.
This according to the New Zealand Harald. Here as well the elephants are only 20 Km from Kunming downtown. The original article talks about the suburbs of Kunming. That makes about another 20 Km difference.
The article is largely a copy of the official Xinhua article but the headers as repeated above are totally their own creation. “Rampage across China” makes it looks like soon Beijing and Shanghai will be invaded by these elephants.
In reality they are at E’shan national park some 20 Km south of Yuxi.
Xinhua is as well the source of the misinformation. They state that they are 20 Km from Jingning district and “very close to the suburbs of the province's capital city Kunming”.
CNN's narrative is just as grim, with the subject title, "Elephant herd razes 500-kilometer path of destruction after escape from China nature reserve"
In reality the social media in Kunming circles are buzzing with adoration, sympathy, and curiosity for these elephants. Locals are even leaving food for them along the road of their intended path. People are anticipating the herd procession like the arrival of homecoming queens and kings of Siam. Trending videos floating around are of the adorable calf getting pushed up the bootie by the matriarch, not of their trail of destruction portrayed by some western media.
Currently they are en route Anning from the outer rim of Kunming. Experts are hoping to gently guide them back southward toward Xishuangbanna without using tranquilizers.
Even Xinhua is now openly fuelling the hype with their heading “Wandering elephant herd reaches major SW Chinese city” followed by “A herd of 15 wild Asian elephants has entered the outskirts of the major southwestern Chinese city of Kunming”.
On closer reading they reached Jinning district which is some 80 Km away from Kunming.
In reality they are in the E’shan National park some 120 Km from Kunming and they have to use infra-red sensing military drones to actually spot them in the remote and dense forest.
Read your BBC link.
If traditional diet of the elephants had been depleted in their natural habitat due to human encroachments, perhaps their 15 Elephant March protest at the doorstep of COP 15 is surreptitiously getting the attention of the United Nations before they convene in October.
The drone shot of them sleeping close together on their sides with the calf protected in the center is adorable. They appear to be resting more in the rain. 14 of them have turned back SW, with one male straggler continuing NE four kilometers from the herd.
Will the elephant caravan need special permits if and when they return home to their "Wild Elephant Valley" in Xishuangbanna?
The shrinking elephant habitat in Xishuangbanna could be due to various factors that may include enormous transportation projects as China strives to interconnect and power-up...
"One of the biggest disruptions is the Jinghong Hydropower Plant. (Secretary General) Zhou (JinFeng) of CBCGDF (China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation) said the dam and reservoir has made the Mekong river, which cuts through the region, impossible for elephants to cross, further fragmenting their habitats.
"During the (environmental impact) assessment, there were some experts talking about how the reservoir would stop the elephants' migration," Zhou said. "But these comments were not included in the assessment."
State power giant Huaneng, which built the plant, did not respond to requests for comment.
Xishuangbanna residents told Reuters that elephant sightings have dwindled since 2007, when the hydroelectric plant was completed.
"They used to roam here when my parents set up home," said Zhou Hongbing, who lives on a farmstead close to the dam. "Since the hydropower plant was built they haven't been able to cross the river."
As the biodiversity conference looms in three months, perhaps these cost benefit issues of the Mekong River might be addressed by the UN and come back to bite the host.