In April, a herd of 15 elephants in China meandered more than 800 miles from the city of Pu’er to the city of Kunming in June, gaining legions of fans along the way.
The herd, which officials said was finally reaching a protected habitat in southwest China’s Yunnan province, had been migrating in search of food and a home, though no one knew exactly where they were going. According to Reuters, state protection efforts have enabled the wild elephant population of the Chinese state of Xishuangbanna to double since 1978. A ban on hunting activities also made elephants more willing to enter human communities.
More than 150,000 people were evacuated from homes in the elephants’ path, but the animals have become local darlings as fans track their progress. For World Elephant Day this Aug. 12, we look at some of the highlights of their journey.