The herd of elephants set out trekking several hundred kilometers in southwest China, crossing cities and roads, plundering crops on its way.
Fifteen pachyderms, including three livestock elephants, left their reserve in Jishuangbanna on the border between Laos and Burma in mid-April and were reported to be about 500 kilometers north in mid-April, Chinese television reported.
On Tuesday, the herd was found 20 kilometers from the metropolitan area of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, with several million inhabitants.
National television broadcasts images of animals crossing cities at night, standing on major highways, or plundering corn fields. Residents and officials equipped with drones will closely monitor their integrity to prevent any danger to the population.
Last week, the elephants emptied a water tank and a farm grain storage, estimating damage at 6.8 million yuan (870,000 euros) since the start of their voyage, according to television, destroying 56 hectares of crops.
In an attempt to channel them, they are trying to feed them with the help of trucks and block the roads.
Zoologists do not understand why herds leave their reserves so far away.
However, Pachyderms have been close to villages in recent years, replacing the plants they normally eat with inedible species.
Wild elephants were protected in China in the 1980s with a population of less than 200, compared to a population of 300. They live exclusively in the tourist and tropical region of Jishuangban.