Elephant herd trekking across China leave one behind

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(Reuters) - A herd of wild elephants trekking across China took a break to forage and play in a forest in China's Yunnan province, after one animal became separated from the group.

The main herd of 14 foraged and played in the forest after passing through Yuxi city on Friday. The group had earlier entered and left Yunnan's capital city of Kunming, defying attempts to redirect them after a journey of several hundred kilometres from forests to the south.

One elephant had strayed 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away from the group in recent days, according to China's state media.

The herd, which includes three calves, began its journey northwards more than a year ago, travelling from a designated elephant protection zone in Xishuangbanna, near China's border with Myanmar.

The space available for China's last remaining native elephant community has gradually shrunk over the years, with the tropical forests of Xishuangbanna replaced with banana, tea or rubber plantations or used to plant lucrative raw materials for traditional Chinese medicine.

It is unclear what prompted the herd to head north, but conservation efforts in Yunnan over the past decade have seen elephant numbers double, putting land and resources under increasing strain.

(Editing By Jane Wardell)

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