Five Elephants Including Pregnant Female Crushed To Death By Speeding Train In Assam
December 11th, 2017
Courtesy: Hindustan Times
.A herd of five elephants, including a pregnant female, was hit and killed by a speeding train near Balipara in central Assam on Sunday.
The incident occurred around 1:15 am in Balipara, Assam’s Sonitpur district, located nearly 210 km from Guwahati. The area is known to be an elephant corridor.
The herd were crossing the train track in search of food and was hit by the 15617 Guwahati-Naharlagun Donyi Polo Express. All the five elephants died on spot and a stillborn calf was later extracted from the pregnant elephant.
This comes three weeks after two elephants were killed by a speeding 15909 Awadh Assam Express at Thakurkuchi, 19 km from from the state capital Dispur.
Davinder Suman, divisional forest officer Sonitpur East called the incident “tragic” and said that staff was focused on another herd of nearly 100 elephants in a different area and there was no information of pachyderm movement in Balipara, according to a Hindustan Times report.
Why are elephants dying in Assam?
As many 140 elephants have died “unnaturally” in Assam between 2013 and 2016. The Asian elephants of Assam have been declared ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN. As per the 2011 census, 5,620 wild elephants remain in the state.
Increased deforestation and construction activity have destroyed the natural habitat of the animal, forcing it to move out of reserve forests this time of the year in search of food. Elephants cross railway tracks to move toward paddy fields.
Sixteen elephants were killed by speeding trains in 2016 and last year, a dozen lost their lives to trains.
Increased human-animal conflicts have also given rise to the deaths. Between 2006-16, wild elephants killed 785 people in Assam.
Villagers sometimes resort to measures such as poisoning and electrocution of elephants to save their standing crops and property.
Measures taken to save elephants
State forest department and railway authorities have taken measures such as increased patrolling near tracks, coordination between various departments, awareness campaigns etc. to bring down the number of deaths. However, the measures failed to completely stop them.
Recently, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is experimenting with ‘Plan Bee’ where a device that amplifies the buzz of swarming honeybees, a natural nemesis of elephants, is being installed near tracks. Despite their thick skin, elephants are terrified of bees, particularly being stung on their sensitive trunk.
In Kenya, boutique beehives are dangled from fences to keep elephants away, however, the NFR’s Rangiya Division came up with the idea of an electronic “buzzer” that will make jumbos stay away from tracks when they hear the sound.
The Logical Indian community is perturbed by the number of elephants deaths in Assam. It is tragic that human activity has reduced the planet to a place that is hardly livable for other species. We need to realise the repercussions this has on human life as well.