Thursday, July 26, 2007

Elephants Kill Eight In India; Sri Lankans Bomb Tamil Tigers; Bears Regroup In Kashmir

Maybe I've been covering the bogus GWOT for too long without enough sleep, but all these stories seem to share a common -- if symbolic -- thread.

From India, via Javno:

Rogue Elephants Shot After Killing Eight In India
Two elephants were shot dead after they went on the rampage killing eight people in northeast India, forest officials said on Thursday.

The elephants, used for moving logs in the timber industry, ran amok on Wednesday in Cachar district in Assam state, stampeding through villages and destroying dozens of bamboo and straw houses before police shot them.

Eight villagers were killed and nine injured.

"The elephants destroyed whatever came in their way. They trampled human beings, or flung them away," said Gautum Das, a local villager.

Elephants are a protected and endangered species in India, which has nearly half of the world's 60,000 Asian elephants.

Conservationists say elephant populations have fallen rapidly in recent years because of loss of habitat as a result of human encroachment into forest areas.
From Sri Lanka, via the International Herald Tribune:

Sri Lankan warplanes bomb Tamil rebel positions in north, says military
Sri Lankan fighter jets pounded Tamil Tiger rebel positions in the northern part of the country Thursday afternoon, the military said.

Air force planes launched two airstrikes on two separate targets in the rebel-held Mullaitivu district, said an officer at the Defense Ministry's media center.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said details of casualties and damage were not immediately available.

A spokesman for the Tigers was not immediately available to comment.

Earlier this month, the government celebrated the recapture of the east from the rebels. The Tamil rebels still control a virtual state in the north.

Tamil rebels have waged a separatist war against the state since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils who have suffered decades of discrimination from majority Sinhalese-controlled governments.

More than 70,000 people have died in the more than two decades of fighting.

The violence has worsened in the last 20 months, despite a 2002 Norway-brokered cease-fire.
And from Kashmir, Reuters via Gulf News dot com:

Bears regroup amid Kashmir insurgency
The number of endangered Asiatic black bears in Kashmir has increasedbetween 30 and 60 per cent ever since the violent separatist movement took effect in 1989, wildlife officials said.

An increased security presence in the Himalayan forests to root out the militants, as well as a ban on hunting, has helped curb poaching and allowed the population of bears to rebound significantly from between 800 to 900 in 1990.

Officials say poachers - who hunt the mammals for their fur, their paws (used as food) and gall bladder (used in traditional Oriental medicine) - have stayed away from the pine and conifer forests for fear of the insurgency.

"For fear of being caught by the security forces, the militants or in an exchange of fire between the two, no one dares to go deep into the forests since the militancy started," said Abdul Rauf Zargar, the state's wildlife warden.

Leopards - also an endangered species in India - have similarly increased, said officials, but did not give details.