Elephants on the rampage in India: 500 homes destroyed, seven people dead

Jeremy Hance
September 08, 2009

A herd of 12-13 elephants has caused havoc in the Kandhamal district of India, reports the BBC. The elephants have completely destroyed 500 homes, left seven dead, and sent another 500 people to camps for shelter.

"We have housed over 500 people in two camps with adequate food and a medical team," local administrator Krishen Kumar told AFP. "Most people have lost their thatched houses, destroyed by the wild herd. We have the mandate to open more camps until the forestry department is able to dispel the elephants."

Captive elephant in India. Humans and elephants have a close relationship in India: for millenia elephants have been used for labor and transportation.
While it is not clear why this herd of elephants left their home in the Lakheri sanctuary, scientists usually point to continuous habitat destruction as the reason for migrating herds of elephants. With smaller and smaller suitable habitat elephants will invade villages for food.

Such attacks are not uncommon in India. Last year a single elephant killed seven people and injured 24 others. Usually attacks that result in the loss of life are by individual 'rogue' elephants.

The Asian elephant is considered Endangered by the IUCN. They are threatened by poaching for their ivory tusks and habitat loss. The Indian elephant is a subspecies of the Asian.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (September 08, 2009).

Elephants on the rampage in India: 500 homes destroyed, seven people dead.