WATCH: On the frontline of India's human-elephant war

On the day Yogesh became another of the dozens of Indians trampled to death each year, the coffee plantation worker knew from the fire crackers set off nearby that danger was at hand.

"Everything happened so fast. The elephant suddenly emerged from behind the bushes, trampled him and disappeared," his younger brother Girish -- thin, bearded and wearing a Nike baseball cap -- told AFP.

The 48-year-old from the southern state of Karnataka, home to India's largest elephant population with more than 6,000 jumbos, 20 percent of the country's total, left behind a wife and two children.

As India's 1.3-billion population grows, people are encroaching into habitats where until now the elephant, not man, has been king, with painful effects for both parties.

The Indian government told parliament last year that 1,100 people had been killed in the previous three years.

The elephants too are paying a heavy price with around 700 fatalities in the last eight years across the country.

Most were killed by electric fences, poisoned or shot by locals angry at family members being killed or crops being destroyed, and accidents on railway cutting through ancient migratory routes.

And Karnataka, which is also part of the wider southern region criss-crossed by over 10,000 of the mighty tusked beasts weighing up to five tonnes (11,000 pounds), is on the frontline.

"At present we have an annual death rate of around 30 to 40 people in the state," C Jayaram, Karnataka's chief wildlife warden, told AFP.

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Last Update: 06:51 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
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