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    A large herd of hungry elephants has taken over part of the Indonesian village of Petani on the island of Sumatra, forcing villagers to flee their homes, the country's Antara news agency reported on Friday.

    A large herd of hungry elephants has taken over part of the Indonesian village of Petani on the island of Sumatra, forcing villagers to flee their homes, the country's Antara news agency reported on Friday.

    The herd of some 45 elephants came into the village two weeks ago, though many have now returned back into the jungle.

    "We have been living in houses in another part of the village for the last two weeks," Raya, a 45-year-old villager who was forced to take refuge from the animals, said, adding that no attempts to chase the elephants were made because villagers are afraid the animals would become aggressive and attack people.

    Last year, at least two people were killed in separate villages in Indonesia from elephant attacks.

    "I don't know what I can do as the village elder," Riantono said. "I can only make appeals [to higher government officials] because we cannot kill the elephants as it is illegal."

    Elephants appear in villages on the island because the growing human population has destroyed much of the animals' habitat, clearing jungles to make room for farming. In the 1980s, there were some 1,500 elephants on the island, however today there are around 350.

    According to Indonesian law, the killing of an elephant is punished by up to 5 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

    JAKARTA, March 19 (RIA Novosti)

     

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