A herd of wild elephants that captivated the world with their yearlong trek through China — raiding farms and even a retirement home for food along the way — may finally be heading back home.
The 14 Asian elephants, including three calves, were spotted on Sunday heading across a bridge in China’s southwestern Yunnan province.
The roaming herd is still about 125 miles away from the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve where they lived, but local authorities are currently opening a path to help guide them back there.
The herd left the reserve a year ago for unknown reasons and set off on a 300 mile trek to the north of the country.
Authorities have spent the past year deploying trucks, workers and at least 14 government drones to monitor the elephants as they trekked across the country.
Adorable drone footage shot in June captured the herd napping together near Xiyang.
Officials have also evacuated roads for the elephants so they could pass safely and used food to steer the animals away from populated, urban areas.
After reaching the outskirts of the city of Kunming in June, the herd turned south again and appear to now be en-route back home.
The elephants have stampeded through at least 15 farms and caused more than a million dollars of economic damage throughout their journey, according to local authorities.
No animals and humans appear to have been injured as the elephants roamed free.
One of the male elephants that separated from the herd early last month, however, was tranquilized and returned back to the reserve.
China only has about 300 wild elephants left and their status in the country is highly protected.
It is unclear why the herd left the nature reserve in the first place.
Some have speculated that habitat loss and food resources may have played a role.
The National Forestry and Grassland Administration said the animals were in a “suitable habitat” after crossing the river on Sunday evening.
With Post Wires.