An elephant that killed five Indian villagers, earning it the moniker of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been renamed after the Hindu god Krishna and is to be trained to patrol parks, officials said on Tuesday.
The male elephant, dubbed “Laden” by frightened villagers in Assam state, was tracked for days by forestry officials and finally tranquilized on Monday after its deadly rampage through Goalpara District late last month.
Officials plan to release “Laden” back into the wild, but hope to teach it to patrol wildlife parks and sanctuaries in the state.
“The elephant is doing fine. If possible we would try to turn it into a captive elephant by training it,” Assam Minister of Forest and Environment Parimal Shuklabaidya said.
An official said that because the elephant was caught on Monday, an auspicious day when Krishna performed a “dance of divine love,” he should be renamed after the deity.
“Since it is tranquilized and is likely to be captive, it deserves a better name for everyone to know it,” the official added.
The elephant is to be kept at the state zoo in Guwahati as it recovers, before being shifted to a national park “for training” with two other captive elephants.
“However, if we fail in taming it and training it, we would have to release it in a safe zone where it cannot harm civilians,” Shuklabaidya said.
Nearly 2,300 people have been killed by elephants in India over the past five years, government figures released in June showed, while 700 elephants have been killed since 2011 — in part from shrinking natural habitats.
Elephants frequently migrate into Goalpara, resulting in high numbers of fatal encounters with humans amid rampant deforestation.
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