Meet animal criminals including drunk elephants and monkey impersonators


Shakira became the latest victim of animal assault when she was attacked by wild boars while walking through a Barcelona park with her eight-year-old son.

The Colombian singer said the animals grabbed her bag with her cell phone and retreated into the woods.

“They destroyed everything,” said the star, who lives in the Spanish capital with her footballer husband Gerard Pique.

But Shakira’s frightening experience is certainly not isolated – in 2016, Spanish police received 1,187 phone calls about feral pigs looting cat feeders, attacking dogs, delaying traffic and even colliding with animals. cars in the city.

Wild boars have also invaded Rome, where footage shows dozens of animals walking past cars and pedestrians on busy roads.

And aggressive pigs aren’t the only animals with a propensity to break man-made laws.

In August last year, a rampaging pig in Berlin stole a laptop from a man who was sunbathing naked.

Incredibly, in the past, law-breaking animals were given lawyers and tried – but the way we deal with law-breaking wildlife today has become more and more complex as we try to impose our own rules on them. .

The singer’s bag that was destroyed by the animals


shakira / Instagram)

And every now and then a human is convicted of a crime that was actually committed by a wild animal. Most famous is the case of Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian who shouted that she saw a dingo run away with her nine-week-old baby while the family were camping near Ayers Rock in 1980.

She was wrongly convicted of the murder, but dingoes had – in fact – eaten her baby.

From drunken elephants and roaming moose, to vandalized Vatican gulls and monkey impersonators, science writer Mary Roach has immersed herself in the wonderful and bizarre world of ‘animal crimes’ in her latest book , Animal, Vegetable, Criminal: When Nature Breaks the Law, with the aim of answering the head-breaking question: What is the right course of action when nature breaks the laws intended for people?

Drunk elephants

Elephants can accidentally kill people


Getty Images)

In India, around 500 people are killed each year in encounters with wild elephants, reveals Mary.

Government policy is to compensate families but not – with a few exceptions – to destroy the elephant. The state with the highest number – 403 deaths in the past five years – is West Bengal.

But elephants don’t usually prey on humans – most deaths are simply accidents due to the elephant’s immense size (6,000 pounds on average – or the weight of a large delivery truck).

Mary talks to Saroj Raj, the range officer for the Bamanpokhri Beat of the local forestry division in the area, where every year since 2016 someone has been killed by an elephant.

He says, “Elephants sometimes kill the same way cars kill: by being big and hitting – or overtaking – something much smaller.

“These elephants had no intention of killing.”

Alarmingly, elephants can be even more dangerous when drunk – and they enjoy a drink.

In North Bengal, elephants drink haaria, a house beer also popular with locals.

But elephants don’t have the main enzyme that breaks down ethanol, which means they can get drunk very easily.

According to Officer Raj, two things happen when elephants have had one too many. Most stumble away from the herd and sleep. But every herd seems to have an aggressive drunkard – the matriarch, often, or a bull in musth (when reproductive hormones cause aggressive behavior). Whatever you do in this life, get away from a drunk bull elephant in the musth, he warns.

Marauder monkeys

Playful macaques are known to sneak into government buildings



During her research on her book, Mary herself fell victim to overzealous monkeys who assaulted her bag of bananas in northern India.

Playful macaques are known to sneak into swimming pools, courts, and even Indian government buildings. A lawyer told Mary about a macaque that infiltrated a medical institute and began removing intravenous needles from patients’ arms and “sucking glucose like a child with a straw in a soda bottle” .

And over the past decade, she describes a “minor epidemic of people falling from balconies because of monkeys.” She has found accounts of six deaths in the past three years alone and recounts the famous death of Delhi deputy mayor SS Bajwa, who tumbled down a railing after being surprised by a group of macaques storming his home for looking for food.

In 2008, the Delhi city government passed a law banning feeding wild monkeys, but no fines were imposed.

Now, scientists are looking for ways to force birth control on problem animals, with a team studying an immunocontraceptive vaccine for macaques.

Moose walking

Large animals, like deer, can kill people when they hit a car windshield



While it may be a human instinct to swerve or break when you see an animal on the road while driving, it is recommended that you do neither.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States estimates that 10,000 people a year are injured when they take evasive action to avoid hitting an animal – that’s only 2,000 less than the number of injured when the vehicle actually hits the animal. And in fatal vehicle-animal collisions, the initial impact rarely kills or injures people. People usually die when the vehicle skids or goes off the road and collides with something more dangerous than an animal crossing the road.

The exception is larger animals, such as deer or horses, which can kill people when they hit the windshield.

For this reason, Volvo created a “large animal detection system” in its cars, with students in the 1980s even creating a crash test dummy to test its effectiveness.

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Mary advises that if you “plan to drive in remote areas of the north where large ungulates are likely to soar on the road,” you might consider a Saab or Volvo, as their roof posts and windshields are. designed and enhanced with input from the Moose Crash Test Dummy.

Summarizing, she said, “Don’t brake excessively or swerve wildly for a little creature, no matter how cute.” Swerve, brake, and pull off the road for a camel on a deserted lonely road, as there is nothing to meet but sand.

Gull vandals

New lasers could be the key to gull deterrence


Getty Images / iStockphoto)

In the UK, we’re all too familiar with the stories of annoying gulls attacking pensioners, kidnapping pet chihuahuas by the scruff of their necks, pooping in the sea, and stealing breakfast straight from our hands.

They even eat their own cubs – an article by Jasper Parsons, who analyzed the gruesome spectacle on the Isle of May in Scotland, revealed the gulls’ propensity for cannibalism.

They aren’t just pests in the UK – they destroyed a flower display at St Peter’s Basilica on the eve of the Pope’s 2017 Easter Mass in what appeared to be “an act of senseless vandalism”.

But new lasers could be the key to gull deterrence and have been used successfully in Rome.

They make firefly flashes when the beams hit the plants in their hissing circuit from the altar area, explains Mary.

Seeing the lasers at work in Rome, she says, “They seem to be doing their job. From what I can see from behind the security fence, [the] the flowers are intact. Thirty seagulls sleep at the foot of a fountain in the center of the square, attracted by the heat of the paving stones.

How to survive a bear attack

A predatory bear attack begins quietly, with focused intent



Mary meets Aaron Koss-Young, of the Yukon Conservation Officer Services in Canada, who gives advice on what to do if you are unlucky enough to meet a bear.

According to Aaron, the most important thing to consider is not the type of bear you are faced with, but the type of attack. Is it predatory or defensive?

The recommended response to a “bluff” from a bear trying to act in a frightening and frightening way to make you back down is to be as threatening as possible. Back up slowly and speak to the animal in a calm voice.

Everything will probably be fine, even if the bear is a sow with cubs, Aaron says.

The surprisingly rare predatory bear attack begins quietly, with focused intent.

The bear can follow from a distance, circle around, disappear and reappear. If a bear starts charging with its ears flat, you must be looking scary, advises Aaron.

Open your jacket to make you look taller. If you’re in a group, get together and shout to sound like a big, loud creature.

“Try to get the message across, ‘I’m not going to give up without a fight,’” Aaron said. “Kick your feet, throw stones. “

  • Animal, Vegetal, Criminal: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach is out now (paperback, £ 16.99).


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