Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Missing: Giant Elephant

World's largest-known Asian elephant goes missing

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 06:54 EST

KATHMANDU — The world's largest known Asian elephant, Raja Gaj, has gone missing from its habitat in southwestern Nepal, officials said Monday. Raja Gaj, the center of tourist attraction in the 968 square-kilometer Royal Bardia National Park, has not been spotted in the park or its vicinity for the past year, said the park's chief conservation officer Phanindra Kharel.

A 1999 survey conducted by the Scientific Exploration Society, based in Britain, estimated that Raja Gaj, a male, had a shoulder height of up to 3.5 meters, making him as tall as an African bull elephant. Acknowledging the possibility that poachers may have killed the giant mammal, he added, "'But we can't confirm it yet."

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