Fears for Bangladesh elephants

A sign that reads “Warning – Route for Wild Elephants” is pictured near Bangladesh’s Balukhali camp for Rohingya refugees on 14 October 2017. Wild elephants killed four Rohingya refugees including three children on 14 October as they were building a shack in Bangladesh’s southeast, police said. Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

Fears for Bangladesh elephants after spate of killings

“Four elephants died in Chittagong division alone since last week,” forest department official Rafiqul Islam Chowdhury told AFP

Fears for Bangladesh elephants

A sign that reads “Warning – Route for Wild Elephants” is pictured near Bangladesh’s Balukhali camp for Rohingya refugees on 14 October 2017. Wild elephants killed four Rohingya refugees including three children on 14 October as they were building a shack in Bangladesh’s southeast, police said. Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

At least four Asian elephants have been killed in Bangladesh over the past week, officials said Sunday, putting the dwindling population of the endangered creatures at further risk.

Fewer than 100 elephants remain in the South Asian country, where they come into regular conflict with humans as their territory shrinks.

BANGLADESH ELEPHANTS KILLED 

“Four elephants died in Chittagong division alone since last week,” forest department official Rafiqul Islam Chowdhury told AFP. 

He said two had been electrocuted and a third was shot in a forest reserve, while another had died of “natural causes”. 

A fourth elephant also died by electric shock in northern Sherpur near the Indian border, police there said.

HUMAN THREAT TO BANGLADESH ELEPHANTS 

For generations, the Chittagong hills have been used by elephants as a route for migrating back and forth from neighbouring Myanmar.

But urban expansion, farming, and refugee camps housing about a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have reduced their territory and led to growing numbers of deaths – both of elephants and people.

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ELECTROCUTION AND DEFORESTATION TO BLAME 

Twelve elephants have been killed across Bangladesh in the past 18 months.

Farmers use live electric wires along their perimeters to keep out grazing elephants, which Chowdhury said was “the single biggest threat” to their survival.

Raquibul Amin of the International Union for Conservation of Nature said that illicit farming in forested areas was partly to blame for the killings. 

© Agence France-Presse