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A plan for a quiet picnic went awry after an elephant gatecrashed and drove away visitors at a forest in eastern India on December 22.
The chained elephant then went on to eat up the food before it was pulled away by its mahouts (rider or trainer).
Eyewitnesses said a group of visitors to Pitahabata Range in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) had got down from a bus and started cooking at a popular picnic spot.
The aroma of the food drew the attention of a young elephant, which was being trained by forest officials. The animal raided the picnic party and created panic in the area with its aggressive behaviour. Though its mahouts pulled it back, they had a tough time getting it under control.
Honorary Wildlife Warden of Khorda Subhendu Mallik alleged that the handlers of the elephant named Babloo were in the habit of intentionally taking it out the picnic spot to entertain visitors.
"They would let visitors take selfies and play with it in exchange for money. The practice has been going for a long time. But on that day the elephant turned aggressive," said Subhendu.
"Commercial exploitation of wildlife is a crime under the Indian law. It also endangered human lives. I have filed a complaint with senior officials seeking a probe. They should also take measures to prevent such incidents in future," added Subhendu.