At Least Seven More Elephants Killed On Railway In North Bengal
The Kaviguru Express killed seven elephants, including two calves, at dusk as it sped through the Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary in North Bengal on Wednesday, November 13. Another ten elephants were seriously injured and the death toll is expected to rise.
The dead and injured elephants were in a herd of 40 that were crossing the railway tracks near Jaldhaka Bridge when the Guwahati-bound passenger train plowed into them. It is estimated that the train was traveling at 110 kilometres per hour when it struck the herd, according to a senior forest department official. According to Hiten Burman, forestry minister for West Bengal, after the train struck, “the herd scattered, but returned to the railway tracks and stood there for quite some time before they were driven away by forest guards and railroad workers who rushed to the spot after the accident.” Burman said that railway authorities have ignored requests from his department that trains reduce their speeds inside the elephant corridor in Jalpaiguri district, which is about 415 miles from Kolkata, the state capital.
The carnage follows upon the heels of a September 22nd incident in which seven elephants were struck and killed at the Moraghat-Reti elephant corridor by a goods train traveling at 70 kilometres per hour. In recent years, dozens of elephants have died after being hit while crossing railroad tracks that run through India’s national parks and forests.
“It is an irony that elephants are being killed by speeding trains in North Bengal at regular intervals even though it has been declared the heritage animal of India, and an elephant calf is the mascot of Indian Railways,” said Animesh Basu, wildlife activist and coordinator of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation.
“Bholu” the “guard elephant,” became the official mascot of Indian Railways in 2003. Indian Railways indicated that Bholu’s green signal lamp assures trains and passengers that they may go ahead with safety and without fear. An Indian Government official release in 2003 described “Bholu” as an “ethical, responsible, sincere and cheerful icon.”
Article on elephant fatalities on railway, June 2013:
Five Elephants Killed In Train Collision At End Of May.
Author: Jennifer Scarlott.