Elephants trample two people to death in Assam


Guwahati : A herd of wild elephants went on a rampage and trampled two people to death in a tea plantation in the eastern Indian state of Assam, wildlife officials said Thursday.

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A forest official said that in the past two days, a herd of about a dozen elephants has killed two workers of a tea garden in Hautoli, about 250 km from Guwahati, and wreaked havoc in the area.

"The elephants had come from an adjoining hill in search of food and in the process trampled the two tea garden workers," said the official.

Forest rangers and local residents have been using firecrackers and beating drums and cymbals to scare away the herd that has been roaming in the area for the past one week.

"The herd goes away for some time and comes back once again. The villagers are terrified," the official said.

The herd also damaged nearby paddy fields and smashed huts in the area.

Experts said wild elephants have been moving out of the jungles in search of food because people have been encroaching on animal corridors.

According to a wildlife department report, elephants have killed 248 people in Assam in the past five years while 268 elephants have died during the same period, many of them victims of retaliation by angry people. Villagers often poison marauding elephants.

Assam has India's largest population of elephants, estimated to be around 5,300 by a 2002 wildlife census.