Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Drunk elephants electrocuted

Six Asiatic wild elephants were electrocuted as they went berserk after drinking rice beer in India's remote north-east.

The 40-strong herd uprooted an electric pole while looking desperately for food on Friday in Chandan Nukat, a village nearly 150 miles west of Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya state, said Sunil Kumar, a state wildlife official.

"There would have been more casualties had the villagers not chased them away," said Dipu Mark, a local conservationist.

The elephants are known to have a taste for rice beer brewed by tribal communities in northeastern India.

Four wild elephants died in a similar incident in the region three years ago.

Also last week, five rare Asiatic lions were found electrocuted on the edge of Gir National Park, in western India. Authorities said the lions were killed on an electrified fence a villager had put up illegally to protect crops near the sanctuary.

The north-east of India accounts for the world's largest concentration of wild Asiatic elephants, with the states of Assam and Meghalaya alone estimated to have 7,000 of them.

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