DISPUR, INDIA – An elephant named after the late al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden that killed five Indian villagers has been caught after a massive operation to hunt down the creature, officials said Monday.
Wildlife officers tracked the pachyderm — dubbed “Laden” by the locals it menaced in northeastern Assam state — through a forest for several days using drones and domesticated elephants.
“We started the final leg of the operation today. … Two darts were fired by experts which had tranquilized the male elephant,” a senior forestry official told AFP.
“Now the work is on to shift the elephant to a forest where there is no human habitation nearby.”
The animal killed five people, including three women, during a 24-hour rampage through Goalpara district in October.
Officials said they would take the elephant’s welfare into account as well as the safety of people living nearby in deciding where it would be relocated
Nearly 2,300 people have been killed by elephants in India over the last five years, according to official figures released in June, while 700 elephants have been killed since 2011 — figures resulting in part from shrinking natural habitats.
Elephants frequently migrate into Goalpara, resulting in high numbers of fatal encounters with humans amid rampant deforestation.
Some elephants there have been poisoned or shot by locals, while others have died on electric fences or on railways cutting through migration routes.