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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Indian elephants 'electrocuted'
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Asian elephant
The north-east of India contains large numbers of Asian elephants
Six elephants have been electrocuted in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, officials say.

It has emerged that that the animals died last week when they became entangled in loose wires.

The Meghalaya wildlife department said that the elephants may have been looking for food, before stampeding into a line of pylons.

Such incidents are becoming more commonplace as humans encroach on land traditionally occupied by elephants.

Poisoned to death

"They got entangled in the live wires that ran loose as the posts were uprooted," wildlife department spokesman Sunil Kumar said.

"Six elephants died on the spot, but thankfully the villagers chased away the rest," he said.

Four wild elephants died in similar circumstances in the region near the border with Bangladesh three years ago.

Dead elephant being removed from a train line in Assam
More and more elephants are being killed in the north-east (Photo: Subhamoy Bhattacharjee)

Last week, five rare Asiatic lions were reported to have been electrocuted near Gir National Park in the western state of Gujarat.

The authorities said the lions were killed by an electrified fence that a villager had put up illegally to protect crops near the sanctuary.

India's north-eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya account for the world's largest concentration of wild Asiatic elephants, with nearly 7,000 of them at large.

Apart from electrocution, scores of elephants have been poisoned to death in Assam by angry villagers or killed by other means.

Hundreds of villagers have also been trampled to death by the elephants.

North-east India falls in the great elephant corridor that stretches from northern Thailand to the foothills of Bhutan - a corridor used by hordes of Asian elephants to move back and forth in search of food.

Human encroachment in this corridor, particularly in Assam, has led to intense man-animal conflicts.

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