A wild elephant on Monday trampled a Chinese man to death as he was taking a morning stroll through a dense central Indian forest, police said.

The 41-year-old victim was fatally injured by the animal in the Gharghoda forest of Chhattisgarh state, local police chief Sanjeev Shukla told AFP by telephone.

Indian elephant
An Indian elephant. File photo: Wikicommons.

“A wild elephant today trampled a Chinese engineer in Gharghoda forest area,” Shukla said.

He identified the victim as Jong Kitau, a Chinese engineer working on a power project in the state and staying at a local guest house with his team.

The incident took place when Kitau and his colleague set out for a morning walk and came face to face with the elephant, which charged at the pair.

While his colleague managed to flee with only minor injuries, Kitau was unable to escape in time, Shukla said.

Indian elephants can grow to 6.4 metres (21 feet) in length and 3.5 metres in height, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They can weigh up to five tonnes.

India is home to some 25,000 elephants but their numbers are dwindling, mainly due to poaching and human destruction of their habitats.

AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.