Nepal soldiers hunt for killer elephant

KATHMANDU Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:47am IST

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Soldiers in Nepal are on the hunt for a wild elephant after it strayed into villages in the southern part of the Himalayan nation and killed four people in three months, officials said on Monday.

The elephant walked into a thatched house in Gardi village adjoining Chitwan National Park, 82 km (50 miles) south of Kathmandu on Saturday, pulled an elderly couple from bed and trampled them to death, said Shiva Ram Gelal, assistant district administrator from Bharatpur, the nearest city.

Park officials say the same beast killed two other villagers fewer than three months ago.

"We have given orders to the army to shoot the elephant that has gone mad," Gelal told Reuters. "Soldiers are now searching for it."

Nepal has about 300 elephants, including more than 100 domesticated ones which are used by hotels and national parks to take tourists on jungle ride to watch wild animals like one-horned Asian rhinoceroses and Royal Bengal Tigers.

Elephants are protected by law and anyone convicted for killing one faces up to 15 years in jail, but Gelal said the Local Administration Act, a Nepali law, allowed authorities to kill the animal if it was responsible for the loss of human life.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma)

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