We all know that elephants are very useful animals. They are used to transport people, they are often poached for their tusks – made of precious ivory.
However, in Assam, the police took the unusual route of using elephants to evict hundreds of people living illegally in a protected forest area in the country’s remote north-east.
Elephants were called in to the 30-square-mile Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary to tear down almost 100 houses, which have been constructed illegally. According to a 2014 forestry department survey, about 6,000 people built homes inside the wildlife sanctuary at 24 locations. Photograph: Anuwar Hazarika/Reuters
Local people hurled rocks at police who used bulldozers and the elephants in a show of force in Amchang wildlife sanctuary in Assam. Photograph: Anuwar Hazarika/Reuters
Increased encroachment on elephant habitat has been driving growing numbers of human-elephant encounters, which often end badly for the wild animals. Photograph: Anuwar Hazarika/Reuters
This is not the first time that authorities have used elephants for demolition. Authorities used elephants in 2016, when they removed 300 encroaching houses from the Kaziranga National Park rhino sanctuary. Photograph: Anuwar Hazarika/Reuters
However, some environmentalists oppose the use of the animals to demolish structures, arguing it runs counter to their natural instincts and can cause them serious injury. Photograph: Anuwar Hazarika/Reuters
Women cry after police demolished their huts which forest officials claimed were illegally built at the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary. Those living inside the sanctuaries argue they should be given alternative houses before their existing homes are demolished. Photograph: Anuwar Hazarika/Reuters