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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Rogue elephant faces being shot after trampling 15 to death in east India

Jharkhand state's chief forest and wildlife conservator said locals were living in fear

An estimated 1,100 people died in India from elephant or tiger attacks in the three years to May 2017. Anupam Nath / AP
An estimated 1,100 people died in India from elephant or tiger attacks in the three years to May 2017. Anupam Nath / AP

An elephant that has killed 15 people in eastern India over a months-long rampage could be shot within days if it is not brought under control, an official said on Wednesday.

Wildlife rangers and hunters assembled in Jharkhand after another victim was trampled to death on Tuesday evening, said the state's chief forest and wildlife conservator LR Singh.

The rogue elephant crushed four victims in Bihar state in March before crossing into neighbouring Jharkhand and killing 11 more.

"Villagers are living in fear, especially the Paharia tribe that lives on the upper hillier regions where the elephant roams. Something must be done," Mr Singh said, referring to one of the poorest indigenous tribal communities in eastern India.

"We have a team of experts and hunters here with us. We are brainstorming a solution … one of them is to shoot the animal. But that's the last resort and we will take a call in a day or two."

The marauding elephant likely wandered from its herd and became lost, straying into villages where the killings took place.

Mr Singh said elephants kill roughly 60 people every year in forested Jharkhand, just a fraction of the estimated 1,100 who died nationwide from elephant or tiger attacks in the three years to May.

The environment ministry estimates a person dies every day in India in clashes with these endangered animals — the vast majority crushed by elephants.

Violent encounters between elephants and humans were an "increasing trend", said Mr Singh, as vast swathes of forest are cleared for human settlements or industry.