Four elephants die of suspected poising in north-eastern India
Four wild elephants have died of suspected poisoning near the Kaziranga national park in north-eastern India over the past week, news reports said Tuesday.
The carcasses of two female elephants were recovered Monday and those of two calves were found on Wednesday, The Telegraph newspaper reported. All were found at or near tea estates in the vicinity of the park, DPA reported.
Preliminary investigations indicated that both female elephants, one of them pregnant, had died of poisoning, a forest official was quoted as saying.
The viscera have been sent to a forensic laboratory. "There are symptoms of poisoning in both the carcasses, but we will be sure only after the forensic report," the official said.
The carcasses of the calves, one male and the other female, also indicated they had been poisoned as their tongues and eyes had turned blue, the official said.
The Kaziranga park in Assam state, home to tigers and the one-horned rhinoceros besides elephants, has several tea estates and stone quarries along its borders.
Wildlife activists and the forest department have in the past accused plantation operators of using pesticides harmful for the park's animals.
India, with an estimated a population of 26,000 wild elephants, set up a task force earlier in 2010 to lay out a blueprint for protecting the animal.