Animal rights groups are up in arms over the use of endangered elephants in place of bulldozers in India.
Indian officials are using the animals to demolish shacks built by illegal immigrants on forest land in Assam, north east India.
According to the Mirror, Dr R D Tanwar, chief conservator for forests, said: "The hilly terrain of the region makes it impossible for bulldozers or any large demolition vehicles to enter the region.
"And if we send in human demolition squads, people chase them away.
"We hire elephants from local mahouts to demolish the huts as they are the only sensible way in the hilly region."
The region has hundreds of elephants that used to be used in the timber trade, which has now been banned.
Animesh Prabat, a resident in Ghandi Mandap Hills, where the latest evictions took place, said there are more than a thousand domesticated elephants in the region.
He told The Sun: "Earlier, they used to carry timber in the mountainous regions, but ever since they have been banned from doing so their owners have put them out to rent.
"They are often used by people during marriages and weddings and other social functions."
But animal rights groups have called the practice of using them to knock down shacks as a form of animal cruelty.
PETA India, CEO, Poorva Joshipura said: ""Forcing these animals to ram into concrete and iron is a violation of Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and shows a total disregard for the welfare of our nation's heritage animal.
"The government focus should not only be on protecting forests, but also the animals who reside in it, by ensuring they are not deliberately forced into acts that would cause them injury, distress and pain."
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