A speeding train killed yet another wild elephant in Assam, this one in Goalpara district in the wee hours of Tuesday, with the death toll of train-hit elephants going up to four in two days. While two elephants were knocked down, the one that was killed was thrown several metres off the railway track due to the impact of the speeding engine. The other sustained a major injury on its right hind leg. The incident occurred between Rangjuli and Amjonga stations, about 90 kms west of Guwahati.
“It is a clear case of a railway train knocking down the two elephants. We are however yet to ascertain which train had hit them. Circumstantial evidence showed the incident occurred as a herd of wild elephants were trying to cross the railway track from north to south,” Goalpara DFO AM Goswami told The Indian Express. A team of vets from the State Zoo in Guwahati, which rushed to the spot, was treating the injured elephant – a female about 20-25 years old – he informed.
Goswami said a herd of 25 wild elephants which had come down from the Meghalaya hills in the south and crossed the railway track in search of food, was on its way back when the incident took place. “It appears that the two hit by the train were at the front of the herd. The herd is still stuck inside the Kanyakuchi reserved forest north of the railway track,” he said.
It was only on Sunday midnight that the Dibrugarh-bound Vivek Express had knocked down and killed three elephants near Jugijan station, about 130 kms west of Guwahati. Two of the elephants were pregnant.
Meanwhile, the railway authorities were yet to ascertain which train had hit the two elephants. Northeast Frontier Railway CPRO Pranav Jyoti Sharma said no Loco pilot or Guard of trains passing through that section on Monday night had reported any incident of any engine hitting elephants. The area was not an elephant corridor, he said.
CPRO Sharma said a patrol party on duty detected an elephant calf lying beside the tracks between Rangjuli and Amjonga railway stations. “The patrolmen immediately informed the concerned railway authority. However no on duty loco pilot or guard of trains passing through that section has reported any incident,” he said.
DFO Goswami however said two trains – a passenger train and a goods train had crossed that spot between 12 midnight and 3 AM. “It has to be one of those two trains,” he said.