Elephant named Laden caught after killing five Indians

The elephant, named after the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, had killed five people during a 24-hour rampage through Goalpara district last month. Wildlife officers had tracked the animal through a forest for several days, using drones and dom
The elephant, named after the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, had killed five people during a 24-hour rampage through Goalpara district last month. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GUWAHATI (India) • An elephant that killed five Indian villagers has been caught after a massive operation, said officials on Monday.

Wildlife officers tracked the animal - named after the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and dubbed "Laden" by the locals it menaced in north-eastern Assam state - through a forest for several days, using drones and domesticated elephants.

"We started the last leg of the operation today. Two darts were fired which tranquillised the male elephant," said a forestry official. "Now the work is on to shift the elephant to a forest where there is no human habitation nearby."

The elephant killed five people during a 24-hour rampage through Goalpara district last month.

Officials said they would take the elephant's welfare into account as well as the safety of people living nearby in deciding where it would be relocated.

Nearly 2,300 people have been killed by elephants in India over the past five years, according to official figures released in June, while 700 elephants have been killed since 2011 - figures resulting in part from shrinking natural habitats.

Elephants frequently migrate into Goalpara, resulting in high numbers of fatal encounters with humans amid rampant deforestation. Some elephants there have been poisoned or shot by locals, while others have been killed by electric fences or on railways cutting through migration routes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Elephant named Laden caught after killing five Indians'. Print Edition | Subscribe