Rogue elephant dies in captivity after killing villagers

Agence France-Presse
Authorities say the cause of death remains unclear

GUWAHATI, India – A rogue elephant named after the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has died in captivity after he was captured following a massive hunt in northeastern India, officials said Sunday, November 17.

The male animal – nicknamed “Laden” – was tracked for days by forestry officers and tranquilized on Monday after a deadly October rampage killed 5 villagers in Goalpara, in the northeastern state of Assam.

It was moved to Assam’s Orang National Park where officials planned to teach it to patrol wildlife parks and sanctuaries in the state, but said it died early Sunday.

“The animal was behaving as normal. It was, however, kept with its legs tied so that it couldn’t escape,” a park ranger, who asked to remain anonymous, told Agence France-Presse.

The keeper reported the animal dead at roughly 5:00am (10:30 GMT) Sunday, he said.

The cause of death was unclear, but a senior official said the state government had sent a team of veterinarians to carry out an autopsy.

Before the creature’s death, the forestry department planned to tame it using “kraak” – a controversial training regime used on younger elephants and condemned by wildlife conservationists as torture.

The animal was unsuitable for captivity because it was believed to be about 35 years old, conservationists said.

Nearly 2,300 people have been killed by elephants in India over the last 5 years, according to official figures released in June.

But 700 of the creatures have been killed since 2011, officials said, partly as a result of shrinking natural habitats.

They frequently migrate into Goalpara, resulting in high numbers of fatal encounters with humans because of rampant deforestation.

Many have been poisoned or shot by locals, or died on electric fences and railways cutting through migration routes. –