Rabid elephant kills 16 people in 2 months in Jharkhand, India

An elephant in central India has killed at least 16 villagers in the past two months after it was likely driven from its herd “for bad behavior,” a wildlife official said.

The adult male, believed to be 15 or 16 years old, has been rampaging in the Santhal Pargana tribal region of Jharkhand state since he was separated from a herd of 22 elephants.

“He was probably kicked out because of bad behavior or sexual rivalry with other males,” said Satish Chandra Rai, a regional forest ranger.

“We are studying his behavior, and a team of 20 employees is constantly trying to track him because our top priority is protecting the animal.”

The elephant, which is now moving back in an effort to reunite with the herd, has managed to outsmart officials with his tremendous speed and unpredictability.

On Tuesday he lifted an elderly couple with his trunk and beat them to death when they went outside before dawn.

Rai said the elephant only kills those who accidentally get in his way, get too close or try to provoke him and take pictures.

“He hasn’t broken into houses or attacked people intentionally,” Rai said.

“We want to see if they’ll take him back into the herd. If not, it will be proof that he’s a bad boy.”

There are about 30,000 wild Asian elephants in India – nearly 60 percent of the total population.

In recent years, the killing of elephants by locals – and vice versa – has increased as people increasingly encroach further into the forested areas.