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Rogue Elephants, Some of Them Drunk, Killed 31 People This Year in India State

December 25, 1991| Associated Press

GAUHATI, India — Rogue elephants have killed at least 31 people this year in Assam state, sometimes after swilling barrels of homemade beer in the villages they raided, officials said.

Wildlife officials say urbanization and a growing elephant population is squeezing the jungle habitat, forcing the animals to look for space and food in villages on edges of forests.

During the raids, the elephants feast on stored grain and gulp down laopani, a rice beer popular among tribespeople, said the chief state wildlife warden, H. C. Changkakati.

He said that wild elephants attacked human settlements at least 17 times this year, six of them in a state of drunkenness. At least 31 people were trampled to death by the elephants, compared to 40 killed last year.

There were no figures available for rogue elephant incidents nationwide. Assam is in the heart of elephant territory.

"The elephant menace in Assam is really alarming. Unless permission for capture of a few dozen of them is granted immediately, there would be more killings and the situation could well go out of hand," Changkakati said.

Elephants are protected in India. Only those confirmed to be rogues are allowed to be captured.

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