An elephant and its calf were mowed down by an express train near Gautam Dhara station in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district early on Monday.
Railway officials said the elephants were knocked down by the Bhagalpur-Ranchi-Hatia express in Ranchi-Purulia section of South Eastern Railway’s Ranchi division at around 4.45am.
They were part of a 14-elephant herd crossing the railway track in Ranchi’s Angara block, which is considered as a migration route of the animals that connect Ranchi and Purulia forest in West Bengal.
The impact was such that the bodies of the elephants fell on two different tracks after the accident. The adult elephant’s body fell on loop line while the calf’s carcass spread across the main line. The calf’s body was removed from the track by forest and railway personnel to restore train movement that was affected for at least two hours.
“The calf’s body was removed from the tracks and there is no obstruction in train movement,” senior divisional commercial manager of Ranchi division, Niraj Kumar, told Hindustan Times.
Kumar said this was the first time that an accident involving elephants was reported in Angara. “We will hold a meeting with the forest department to find out if there had been an elephant corridor there,” he said.
Officials of Ranchi forest division reached the spot and verified elephant movement in the area.
“Elephants in Ranchi have potential danger from three sides—Silli, Sikidari and Budmu—as the population of the pachyderms have increased not only in Ranchi but other parts of the state. They are generally using threes routes for movement,” Ranchi’s divisional forest officer (DFO), Rajiv Lochan Bakshi, said
Lochan added that the population of resident elephants in Ranchi is around 60.
He said they will meet railway officials on Monday and would request them to reduce the speed limit of the trains and blow horn while passing through the elephant routes. “We will also request to deploy some railway officials to keep a tab on movement in elephant zone when a train passing from there,” Bakshi said.
On August 26, three elephants were killed after being hit by a train in Bankura-Howrah section of West Bengal. Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave had directed the state forest department to put appropriate measures for conservation of elephants in place after discussing the issue with railway officials.
Dave had stressed on initiating steps to prepare a ‘regional landscape plan’ for the protection of elephants in the East Central Elephant Landscape, comprising West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and other areas.
State forest officials said that they were working on the plan under the Centre’s guidance and also held a meeting in this regard.