India's Rampaging Elephants Become Election Issue

Villagers promise to vote for party that can save them from animal attacks
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2009 7:28 AM CDT
A mahout, or elephant handler, beats an elephant, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) symbol outside the party leader's residence in New Delhi, India,   (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Villagers in eastern India have pledged to give their votes in the upcoming election to whoever can save them from rampaging elephants, Reuters reports. Dozens of people are trampled to death in the region every year by elephants forced to raid farmland because of habitat loss, and the two biggest parties have promised a review of elephant policy.

"This year, our vote will go only to those candidates who will helping in getting rid of elephants," one villager said. People in rural eastern India are also threatened by a Maoist insurgency, but villagers say at least the police can be called to tackle the rebels while they are left on their own against the marauding pachyderms.