Indian elephant tramples three to death

March 14, 2005 at 4:55 AM
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GUWAHATI, India, March 14 (UPI) -- A wild elephant trampled to death three people and wounded seven more in India's northeastern state of Assam, wildlife officials said Monday.

A forest official said the elephant strayed from its herd and entered Dalokgarupara village, about 43 miles west of Assam's main city of Guwahati, early Sunday morning, the Indo-Asian News Service reported.

"The elephant went on a rampage, tearing apart huts, and then attacked sleeping villagers," the official said.

During the past two weeks, herds of wild elephants have been wreaking havoc in Assam because the animals have developed a taste for moonshine that villagers make from fermented rice at harvest time. After drinking it, the elephants go berserk and destroy everything in the vicinity.

In the last five years, elephants have killed at least 150 people in Assam. Angry villagers, in turn, have killed up to 200 of the animals during the same period, some of which were brought down with poison-tipped arrows.

The last elephant census in 1999 recorded 5,400 in Assam, more than half of India's count of 10,000.

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