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Frenzied elephant herd breaks into Bangladesh park

COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH (AFP) – A herd of endangered wild elephants are rampaging through a safari park in Bangladesh, with officials warning yesterday the creatures were acting aggressively and posed a serious safety threat.

The herd of at least 13 elephants knocked down a seven-foot concrete wall to break into the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park, north of the resort city of Cox’s Bazar, earlier this week.

“They are very restless, frightened and acting as if they are cornered. They are now very dangerous for other animals and our visitors,” said park official Mazharul Islam.

The reserve is home to over 1,300 animals – including Bengal tigers, hippos and other threatened species – and sees around 5,000 visitors each day in winter.

“We are worried for the park’s visitors,” Islam said. “Night patrolling is getting difficult as the elephants are very agitated and they go wild very easily.”

Fewer than 100 elephants remain in the South Asian country, where shrinking habitats and dwindling food supplies have resulted in growing conflict with humans. Another official said the elephants were frightened because of increasing encroachment on their land by farmers and the killing of a dozen members of their herd over the years.

Scarcity of food has driven elephants to invade rice fields where they were often killed by electric fences, he added.

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