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.