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Elephants used to evict villagers bordering Indian rhino park

Authorities had ordered the demolition of around 300 houses in three villages to evict people living on the periphery of Kaziranga National Park in northeastern India to stop rampant poaching of the rare rhinos, said Mukesh Aggarwal, a top police official. Park and district authorities used bulldozers and domesticated elephants, guided by mahouts, to pull down the thatched houses. Community leaders and conservation groups have long demanded that the boundary areas of the park be cleared of human habitation. Local residents say many of the villagers have illegally settled in the area. Some of the settlers face charges of aiding and abetting poachers to kill rhinos inside Kaziranga. “Fourteen rhinos were killed by poachers in Kaziranga this year. Last year, 17 rhinos were victims of poaching,” said Subhasis Das, a forest official at the Park, which has the largest number of rhinos in the world. Two people were killed and 40 injured in clashes between police and protesting villagers.

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Mahouts guide forest department elephants to demolish houses in Bandardubi village, on the periphery of the Kaziranga National Park, northeastern Assam state, India.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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Mahouts guide forest department elephants to demolish houses in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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Cows look on as mahouts guide forest department elephants to demolish houses in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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A man watches as mahouts guide forest department elephants to demolish houses in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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Mahouts guide forest department elephants to demolish houses in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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A mahout guides a forest department elephant to demolish a house in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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Mahouts guide forest department elephants to demolish houses in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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A mahout guides a forest department elephant to demolish power cable poles in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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A mahout guides a forest department elephant to demolish a house on the periphery of the Kaziranga National Park.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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Mahouts guide forest department elephants to demolish houses in Bandardubi village.

Anupam Nath/The Associated Press

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