Friday, December 22, 2006

Osama the Elephant Slain


A killer elephant named after Osama bin Laden by fearful villagers was killed by sharpshooters, officials said Sunday. The animal was blamed for 14 deaths in the northeastern state of Assam.

"A licensed shooter shot and killed the 10-foot tall bull near the Behali forest reserve in northern Assam," said wildlife warden Chandan Bora.

Wildlife authorities had ordered that the elephant be shot and killed by December 31.
The order came after the bull — dubbed "Laden" — was blamed for the death of a woman Wednesday near the thickly wooded evergreen jungle where it lived. The elephant evaded two previous attempts by officials to kill it.

Confrontations between humans and elephants have escalated in northeastern India in recent years as the elephants' natural habitat has been destroyed, forcing the animals to forage for food in areas where humans live.

In the past five years, more than 250 people have been killed in Assam by elephants, while angry villagers killed 268 elephants during the same period, officials said.

Assam is estimated to have 5,300 Asiatic elephants.





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