Beer-guzzling elephants to be executed

Sniper told to gun down 'rogues' who trampled village residents

Mar 17, 2003 - Authorities have ordered a hunter to track down and kill two elephants who have killed 12 people in India's northeastern state of Assam, officials say. Assam's wildlife department has declared the two male elephants "rogues" and given the professional sniper until the end of March to impose the death penalty.


The move was ordered after complaints by residents of Sootea, who said the elephants had wreaked havoc for the past year, trampling to death 12 people.

"The two elephants have been smashing down huts, crashing through fields, and trampling people as they move around looking for (beer)," said Madhav Deka, a farmer.

Wild elephants are a problem in many regions of India as they head to areas where people brew large volumes of rice beer. "We have come across devastating drunken bouts by herds that have developed a liking for country liquor," Kushal Sharma, a noted elephant expert, said.

Some residents believe the authorities are overreacting. "Depleting forest and the encroachment of elephant corridors by people like us have been forcing them to stray out of their habitat and enter human settlements. The animals are bound to become violent," said Narayan Hazarika, a schoolteacher.

More than 100 people have been trampled to death by elephants in Assam over the past two years.

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