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Tusker killed in Uttarakhand after being hit by Nanda Devi Express

A tusker died after it was hit by a train early on Saturday inside the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, taking the number of elephants that have been killed to 358 in the state since 2001, official figure has revealed

dehradun Updated: Feb 17, 2018 22:09 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,Tusker killed,Rajaji Tiger Reserve
A tusker killed after being hit by the Nanda Devi Express inside the Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand early on Saturday.(HT Photo.)

A tusker died after it was hit by a train early on Saturday inside the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, taking the number of elephants that have been killed to 358 in the state since 2001, official figure has revealed.

The tusker aged 8-10 years, was hit by the Delhi-Dehradun Nanda Devi Express, said forest officials.

The train hit the animal around 4 am while it was cross the railway track in the Kansro beat of the reserve, said Sanatan Sonkar, director Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

State forest department data states that this is the ninth elephant to be hit by a train. This apart, between 2001 and 2017, 58 elephants have died in accidents while 37 died after being electrocuted, the data has revealed.

Nineteen elephants died in 2015, followed by 29 in 2016 and in 34 in 2017, the data show.

“We have taken measures and though the forest staff patrols along the railway tracks, it’s difficult to man every wild species,” said Sonkar.

Uttarakhand reported 1,346 elephants in 2012, which increased to 1,839 in 2017, an addition of 493 elephants, a recent survey report release by the Synchronisation Population Estimation, said.

While the increasing numbers have reflected in better conservation strategy, the high mortality rate points to the lack of habitat and encroachment of elephant corridors in the state, the report said.

“Encroachment in wildlife areas is a common problem,” said Rajeev Mehta, former honorary wildlife warden of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

“But the key point behind the conflict is blockage of elephant corridors. The long ranging animal is not able to reach water bodies due to which it enters human habitation,” he said.

Farming practices and unplanned development projects too pose a threat to the 12 elephant corridors in the state, which is a major risk to the lives of the animals, Mehta said.

A joint study titled “Right of Passage-Elephant Corridors of India”, conducted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Wildlife Trust of India and Asian Nature Conservation Foundation in 2005, has earmarked 12 stretches for the smooth passage of elephants in Uttarakhand.

Back then, the wildlife conservation groups also sought legal status for elephant corridors but it has not been implemented.

“The accident is tragic and we are stepping up patrolling to avoid such incidents,” said Digvijay Singh Khati, state chief wildlife warden.

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 22:09 IST