Elephants Used to Help Evict Residents Living in Protected Forest Areas

Playing Elephants Act as Bulldozers to Squash Hundreds of Illegal Structures

Police in India have enlisted the help of elephants to evict hundreds of people living illegally in a protected forest area in the country's remote northeast.

State Forest Minister Pramilla Brahma said the area is an elephant habitat and the unauthorized settlements are forcing the animals to leave in search of food.

Police used bulldozers and the elephants in a show of force, and the forest dwellers responded by hurling rocks, according to reports.

Five protesters were injured in a scuffle after police used tear gas in the Amchang forest area in Assam state, Guwahati Police Commissioner Hiren Nath said.

Authorities plan to demolish about 1,000 bamboo and tin huts.

There have been many incidents in which displaced wild elephants have entered villages, destroying crops and even killing people.

A police official said the authorities were following a court order to clear the forest of illegal encroachment by Thursday.

The eviction drive is being carried out by wildlife wardens, with police providing protection against possible attacks by angry residents.

About 6,000 people have built homes inside the wildlife sanctuary at 24 locations across the country, according to a 2014 forestry department survey.

Some environmentalists oppose the use of the animals to demolish structures, arguing it runs counter to their natural instincts and can cause them serious injury, The Guardian reported

Those living inside the sanctuaries have been arguing they should be given alternative housing before their existing homes are demolished.

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