Wildlife rangers and hunters were on the prowl in eastern India to track and kill a rogue elephant that has crushed 15 people to death in a months-long rampage.
Forest authorities signed the order on Thursday to kill the elephant that killed four people in Bihar in March before crossing over to neighbouring Jharkhand state where it trampled 11 people to death.
"The tusker has struck fear in the hearts of people here," said Jharkhand chief forest and wildlife conservator Lal Ratnakar Singh on Friday.
"Several small villages and settlements in the hilly area have beenvacated after it killed two more people in the last four days," he said by phone.
"Teams comprising 50 staff including six expert hunters are on the move to track the elephant. It was spotted last night so it is not long before our teams encounter the elephant," Singh said.
In recent discussions, the forest department dismissed the idea of capturing the elephant and saving its life. Singh said tranquilising the elephant was risky because of its aggressive nature and limited visibility in the dense forests.
"Shooting tranquilising darts at the elephant could further agitate it. It could blindly charge at our men or villagers, raising the danger of more deaths and destruction," Singh said, adding the sedative took about 30 minutes to work.
Attacks by wild elephants are common in India and government reports say more than 300 people are killed each year by elephants. Many such elephants, who raze entire fields of precious crops, are also killed by angry villagers in retaliation.
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