Using Elephants as Bulldozers to Preserve Wildlife Sanctuaries

On Monday, Indian police and forestry officials began carrying out a series of forced evictions of illegally built houses inside the 30-square-mile Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in northeastern India, a protected habitat for wild elephants. Hundreds of structures were demolished by a few construction vehicles and about a dozen elephants, which were able to navigate some of the steeper and narrower trails. The people being evicted protested, some hurling rocks, but in the end, several hundred families were driven out. Increased encroachment on elephant habitat has been driving growing numbers of human-elephant encounters, which often end badly for the wild animals. Indian authorities have used elephants for demolition duties several times in recent years, including in 2016, when they removed 300 encroaching houses from the Kaziranga National Park rhino sanctuary.

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