Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Train mows down five elephants in Assam

Train mows down five elephants in Assam

At least five elephants were killed and two others were injured when a speeding train hit a herd of the pachyderms who were trying to cross railway tracks in Assam's Hojai district on late Saturday night. The impact of the collision derailed the engine but no passengers were injured.

The Northeast Frontier Railway confirmed the incident, which involved the Guwahati-Silchar passenger express train.

"Five elephants, including three calves, reportedly died due to the impact".

NFR chief public relations officer, said that the accident happened at a location where there was no notified elephant corridor.

They said the spot between Hawaipur and Lamshakhan stations, some 180 km east of Guwahati, is a notified elephant corridor. Train accidents, poisoning by farmers and electrocution are the main causes of elephant deaths, say forest department officials.

The NFR is keen on mitigating elephant mortality on railway tracks but at the same time safety of train movements has to be ensured, he added.

It may be mentioned here that there has been a manifold increase in the incidents of elephant crossings during the recent past and trains are constantly slowed down whenever any information of herd movement is shared with the railway by the forest department.

With increasing deforestation and building activity close to their habitats, many elephants are forced to go further afield in the search for food.

On December 10 a year ago, at least five adult elephants and a calf died after the Guwahati-Naharlagun Express hit them at Balipara in Assam's Sonitpur district. Also in November previous year two elephants were killed by a train at Thakurkuchi, in the outskirt of Guwahati.

According to the 2011 census, there are 5,620 wild elephants in Assam, the highest in the country.

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