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The headline of the Indian newspaper pushed the reader to click: "Bin laden has been captured." The news was headed by a photo of a large elephant tied by several ropes and a crane lifting it off the ground. Then there was a small confusion that was resolved by beginning to read the first lines: "A wild elephant named Bin Laden, like the head of Al-Qaeda, has been captured in ...".
To understand this story, one would have to go back a month ago, at the beginning of October, when a great 35-year-old elephant razed a village in the Goalpara district, east of India, an area famous for its diverse animal fauna and tropical forests. . Also because the abusive population growth of the country is causing communities to go deeper and deeper into green areas, occupying grasslands of wild elephants. Therefore, when the heat increases, these animals enter the villages more and more frequently in search of water . Bin Laden did it in his own way, with a stampede and causing fear and chaos among the population for several hours.
Even local newspapers pointed out that the pachyderm had crushed several people. Five died, three women and two men. From that comes the name: "Bin Laden, the killer elephant," said another headline. And, following in the footsteps of the villain who made that name famous, the animal also fled.
The authorities employed other domesticated elephants to track him. No luck. Then they used a more modern tool, a drone. And so they found Bin Laden on November 11 near the town of Rongjuli. He was thrown two sedative darts and with many ropes and a crane he got on a truck that left him the next day in the Orang National Park. After being captured, the tourist site workers changed their name. Bin Laden would become Krishna, which in Sanskrit means "black" or "attractive." It is also the name of one of the gods most revered by the Hindus.
The Forest Department of the region planned to even release the elephant. An idea that declined after the pressure of the villagers, afraid that the animal could attack again. According to local teletypes, in addition to causing deaths, the elephant had previously crushed 50 more people and destroyed crops and houses.
But his story does not end here. Because Krishna - the old Bin Laden - died last Sunday. No one has been able to explain why. So much is the expectation that the local government sent to the Natural Park a team of veterinarians to investigate the causes of death.
The death of this pachyderm may be a curiosity, but the news has once again revealed the serious conflict of coexistence in that country with humans. In the last five years 2,300 people crushed by elephants have already died, according to data from the Ministry of Environment of the Asian country. Last year alone, 494 people died, many of them in the state of West Bengal.
There many still remember the tragic event of June, when an elephant crushed eight people as they entered a village after separating from their pack. And in the state of Orissa, forest agents have long been warning people to stop taking selfies with these animals. There have already been several crushed dead as a result of this fashion. "We have even organized special campaigns to raise awareness about people not taking selfies with elephants," said a forest chief in an interview with the BBC.
On the other side of the scale, the Indian authorities report that more than 700 elephants have been killed in the last five years "for poaching and poisoning." Some have also died electrocuted. Like the 13 that got stuck in the power lines after entering the town of Kamalanga. And there are 70 who have been killed by trains in the last five years. Therefore, in the state of Assam, loudspeakers emitting bee hums have been installed at various points along the train tracks, which keep these animals away.
On the other hand, animalist groups are especially concerned about the situation of elephants in captivity, around 4,000, with India being the country, according to a World Animal Protection report, which more pachyderms keep captive, especially for tourism. They are also rented during religious festivals to parade, or for weddings and store and hotel openings.
Groups such as World Animal Protection are especially concerned about the "unnatural and inhuman" conditions in which they are: the life expectancy of an elephant in freedom is 70-75 years. In captivity, few exceed 40.
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