Speeding train kills elephant, hurts anotherMon Mar 01 2010, 03:23 hrs
A female wild elephant was killed on the spot when a speeding goods train dragged it for about 100 metres in the Deepor Beel wetland — a Ramsar site — near here early on Sunday.
Another female elephant, which was pregnant, was injured after being hit by the train. It ran into the jungle and later gave birth to a calf.
The two elephants had apparently strayed away from the main herd. Guwahati Wildlife DFO S K Seal Sarma said a herd of about 16 elephants were in Deepor Beel since Saturday morning.
“We have rescued the new-born calf and shifted it to the Assam State Zoo. The mother has been spotted inside the jungle and we will try to tranquilise it in order to give it medical treatment,” the DFO said.
Northeast Frontier Railway spokesman S S Hajong, quoting local witnesses, said the elephant that got killed apparently put its trunk forward while the goods train was passing that area. The accident occurred around 4 am when the goods train was coming towards Guwahati, he said.
“Local people told us that while a herd of wild elephants which had come to the Deepor Beel for bathing and drinking water was trying to cross the tracks, one of the elephants somehow moved its trunk towards the tracks as the train was passing by,” Hajong said. The railway authorities have already ordered an inquiry into the incident.
This is the second incident of a wild elephant getting killed by a train in the Deepor Beel, which has the Guwahati-Goalpara railway track passing through. A baby elephant was killed in the same spot in May last year.
Herds of elephants come down from the Rani reserved forest to the Deepor Beel almost every day, prompting the railways to run trains between Kamakhya and Azara stations at just 10 km per hour.
The Northeast Frontier Railway in fact has a project to mitigate elephant mortality due to train accidents, with the Wildlife Trust of India, the state government and Elephant Family supporting it.
Sunday’s elephant was the sixth victim of trains in Assam in the past three months. While four elephants including two calves were mowed down by a speeding train between Diphu and Doldoli stations in Karbi Anglong district in central Assam on January 2, one male elephant was killed by a train near Hojai in Nagaon district on December 22.
Assam incidentally accounts for about 37 per cent of the total elephant deaths caused by trains in the country, followed by West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.