(CNN) – A herd of 15 elephants is wreaking havoc in China, trampling crops and causing more than a million dollars worth of damage after the animals escaped from a nature reserve last year.Elephants have traveled 500 kilometers through southwestern Yunnan province from the Xishuangbanna nature reserve to Yuxi, a city of 2.6 million people, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
It is not clear why they left their home in the nature reserve, but on their travels, the elephants have caused 412 separate incidents of damage, with financial losses amounting to about 6.8 million yuan (US $ 1.1 million), Xinhua reported. In Yuanjiang and Shiping counties alone, 56 hectares of farmland have been destroyed, according to the agency.
The creatures have also caused major problems for the inhabitants of the area. Last Thursday, residents were asked to stay indoors and pedestrians and vehicles were evacuated in the city of Eshan after elephants roamed the streets for six hours.
Authorities set up a 24-hour command center to monitor the animals after they were spotted in Yuxi’s Hongta district on Monday, with more than 360 people, 76 police cars and ground trucks, and nine drones mobilized for the task. , and 18 tons of prepared elephant food. So far no casualties have been reported, according to Xinhua.
Monitoring images show that the herd is made up of six adult females, three adult males, three young adults, and three calves.
Asian elephants are the largest land mammal on the Asian continent, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They are considered a protected species in China, and about 300 individuals live in Yunnan, according to Xinhua.