Authorities in northeast India urged Bangladesh on Monday not to kill about 100 wild elephants that have strayed across the border and gone on a rampage, killing 13 people and injuring dozens.
The appeal came after the Wildlife Society of Bangladesh urged Indian authorities to take back the marauding animals, saying that Bangladesh might otherwise destroy them.
"We need to undertake a joint initiative to bring them back," said Mukul Sangma, forest minister in India's northeastern state of Meghalaya.
"I appeal to Bangladesh's forest authorities not to harm the animals until a solution is found," he said. "We must find out ways and means to ensure the safe return of the elephants."
"We are very sympathetic about the elephants' plight and we will not take any steps to kill them," said Munshi Anwarul Islam, chief forest conservator of Bangladesh. "But these elephants are destroying our houses and trees and are a threat to the local people. They are not finding a corridor to go back to India."
The elephants are believed to have crossed over from the Garo Hills area of Meghalaya to Bangladesh's northern district of Sherpur about two years ago. The animals have attacked hamlets in Bangladesh, terrorizing villagers and destroying farms, roads and houses in Sherpur, about 125 miles from Dhaka, the capital.
India is home to thousands of elephants while Bangladesh has about 350. Marauding elephants have killed more than 180 people in Bangladesh since 1997.