Attacks by Elephants, Tigers Rise in India

In some cases, humans have become prey

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 17, 2011 7:08 PM CST

(Newser) – In parts of India such as the Sundarban Islands of West Bengal, humans are encroaching more than ever into the habitat of local wildlife. But here, the familiar story has a twist: elephants and tigers are responding by killing and even eating humans, ABC News reports. The latter is a rarity even for a carnivore like the tiger, but starvation has pushed them to extremes. Tiger attacks are up 30% over the past decade.

"They're creating a culture of man-eating where moms are teaching cubs, people are easy prey," says one wildlife expert. As for elephants, they've begun wandering onto farms. When locals try to chase them away, they sometimes trigger fatal stampedes. In one case, after a particularly violent elephant was killed, wildlife officials found human remains in her stomach. Animal experts believe the elephant had been getting revenge for an episode in which her calf was chased into a rice field by locals.

A female wild elephant lays dead at the Sukna Forest, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, in 2008. Forest officials said the elephant and her calf were likely poisoned.
A female wild elephant lays dead at the Sukna Forest, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, in 2008. Forest officials said the elephant and her calf were likely poisoned.   (AP Photo/Tarun Das)
An elephant crosses a railway track which runs through the Mahananda Wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of Siliguri in West Bengal on September 16, 2010.
An elephant crosses a railway track which runs through the Mahananda Wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of Siliguri in West Bengal on September 16, 2010.   (Getty Images)
File photo of a tiger in India.
File photo of a tiger in India.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
An egret flies as wild elephants eat grass at Deepor Beel wildlife sanctuary in India.
An egret flies as wild elephants eat grass at Deepor Beel wildlife sanctuary in India.   (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
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