People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (PETA) on Wednesday urged Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee to take steps to stop speeding trains from killing more elephants in Assam. The plea followed the deaths of four wild elephants, including two calves, struck and dragged by a train in Karbi Anglong district on January 1.
“This recent tragedy is just the latest in a long line of railway accidents that have killed and injured many elephants. Elephant herds travel long distances in search of food along traditional migration routes which possibly have been in use for centuries.
"The presence of railways in protected areas around the country has caused the accidental deaths of wild elephants. Sadly, no suitable steps have been taken to protect these elephants from harm,” said PETA-India’s Ashish Verma in his letter to Banerjee.
PETA had raised similar concerns with Banerjee's predecessor Lalu Prasad Yadav, “but nothing has been done to protect elephants”.
Amongst the measures the group has recommended are reducing train speeds in forest areas, improving visibility, regulating garbage disposal and restoring migration corridors without railway tracks, issuing notice to trains that have caused accidents in the past asking them to drive carefully and slowly while passing through dense forests.
"We all revere elephants as incarnations of Lord Ganesha, and it is heartbreaking to think that so many of these animals are dying agonizing deaths as a result of preventable railway accidents,” the PETA-India letter said. "We hope that you will take immediate action to spare elephants from suffering this miserable fate."