Uttarakhand: Elephants block railway track after 2 in herd killed in train-hit
A furious herd of elephants blocked railway traffic on Lalkuan-Kashipur section in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon region after a female elephant and her male offspring were hit by a train on Wednesday morning. Passengers of the train had to be sent to their destinations in buses and few other trains were suspended till noon, when the track was finally cleared after the herd calmed down and was driven into the wild by forest officials.
“We saw an adult elephant and baby elephant lying dead on the railway track. The elephant herd there was very furious. We waited for a while and then drove them away from the track,” said Harish Pandey, ranger, Peepal Parao forest range under Terai-Central Forest division in Kumaon.
Pandey said the two elephants were hit by a speeding Agra Fort train which was headed to Ramnagar from Lalkuan at about 5 am on Wednesday. “When it reached Peepal Parao forest range, 4 km from Rudrapur Sidcul halt, a herd of elephants was crossing the track. The train hit an adult female and its offspring, who died on the spot. After this, the rest of the elephants in the herd got furious and surrounded their bodies, blocking the train traffic,” he said.
The train had to be reversed to Rudrapur Sidcul halt and its passengers were de-boarded and sent to Bazpur, Kashipur, and Ramnagar in buses. Kashipur-Kasganj train heading towards Lalkuan was stopped at Gularbhoj and sent back to Kashipur and some other trains were cancelled on this route till noon, railway officials said.
In the meanwhile, forest officials rushed to the accident spot and waited for the herd to calm down before driving them into the forest area.
“The killed female elephant was around 40-year old while the calf was about 2 to 3 months’ old. We informed our seniors and removed their bodies from the track,” said Pandey.
AG Ansari, Kumaon based wildlife activist said human error was responsible for this incident. “Early warning system is needed to avoid such incidents in the future. Forest department should take initiative and railways, too, should control the speed of the trains.”
In the past, several elephants have been killed in train hit incidents, especially in the state’s Tarai area. In July 2020, a three-year-old elephant was killed on railway tracks in Nakraunda area of Dehradun forest division. In November last year, a 35-year-old female elephant was hit by a train. In May 2018, a five-year-old female elephant died on the Lalkuan-Bareilly railway track in the Nainital district. In March 2018, an elephant died near Nagla bypass on the Lalkuan-Bareilly railway line. In April 2017, two elephant calves were killed near Haldi railway station.
Elephant population in Uttarakhand has reached 2026, according to the elephant census held last year. It is a 29.9% increase since 2015.
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