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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Bangladesh in India elephant plea
Elephants in Bangladesh
Elephants are terrorising villagers, Bangladesh says
Bangladesh has sought help from India to prevent wild elephants from entering into its territory.

Officials at the Forest and Environment Ministry say up to 200 Indian elephants have been roaming freely for months in a northern Bangladeshi district.

They say that the elephants have damaged crops and killed villagers.

Bangladeshi officials say that the situation will worsen unless measures are urgently introduced in talks due to begin soon.

Crops destroyed

Officials say the elephants came into the country from the Indian state of Meghalaya and have attacked people and destroyed crops, roads and houses in Bangladeshi villages.

The World Conservation Union says that an average of 40 people are killed each year by stray elephants each year in Bangladesh.

The State Minister for Forest and Environment Ministry, Jafrul Islam Chowdhury, says the elephants entered Bangladesh after their habitat in India was destroyed.

"But since there is no suitable habitat for the elephants in Sherpur district, they have started attacking people and destroying crops and homes," he told the BBC.

The Wildlife Society of Bangladesh last month urged the Indian authorities immediately to take back the elephants living in Bangladeshi territory.

Unless the animals return to India, it warned, Bangladesh has the right to destroy them with co-operation from the international community.

"We are all for the welfare of the elephants, but the herd is beyond control," the group's chief, Kazi Zaker Husain, said.

Mr Chowdhury said he expected talks between forestry officials from the two countries to take place shortly.

The BBC's Waliur Rahman in Dhaka says that co-operation between the two countries on the issue is already close, and has produced good results.

In May, two Indian elephants that crossed into Bangladesh through its western borders were captured through a joint initiative and sent back to India.

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