Four wild elephants killed after being hit by train in Assam

Guwahati: Four wild elephants were killed and another injured when a Guwahati-Silchar passenger train rammed over a herd crossing the rail tracks in central Assam’s Hojai district on Saturday night. The wildlife activists said that accident took place at about 9.30 pm near Habaipur an area, which has been identified as an elephant corridor.

The engine of the train got disconnected from the bogies due to the impact of the collision, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. Four elephants died on the spot while one injured pachyderm is battling for life.

The railways authority said that the engine of the train got derailed due to the impact but no passenger was injured. A special train has been sent from Lumding, to help the stranded passengers, an official of Northeast Frontier Railway said.

Meanwhile, local residents of the area alleged that they even waved and tried to stop the train driver but he could not take note of their signal.

Elephant deaths, due to accidents, are on the rise in Assam. According to records available with the state forest department, at least 110 elephants died in 2016 and 118 in 2015.  Apart from train accidents, there have been deaths of a large number of wild elephants due to poisoning and electrocution also.

Though, state forest department has developed a mechanism to monitor the movement of elephant herds besides setting up an anti-depredation squads to protect the elephants from such disaster, it is yet to work effectively.

To minimise such casualty, the Northeast Frontier Railway has also started experimenting by placing a device near railway tracks, which amplifies buzz of bees, hoping that elephants, which are scared of the stinging insects, will stay away from the tracks when they hear the sound.

According to 2011 census, there are 5,620 wild elephants in Assam, the highest in the country. The Asian elephants of Assam have also been declared as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.