In yet another saddening incident, five elephants (along with an unborn calf) were cut down by a train at Balipara in Sonitpur on Saturday night. According to Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma, the Guwahati-harlagun Intercity Express was running at a speed far too high through an elephant corridor. The NF Railway authority has denied her charge, while locals in turn have alleged that the employee manning the Bamgaon rail gate failed to inform higher-ups that jumbos were moving in the area. Reportedly this ill-fated smaller group of elephants was separated from a herd 50-60 strong, after villagers scared them off by banging tin cans and bursting crackers. The herd had come out of meri forest to raid nearby paddy fields, with tragic consequences. Over 60 elephants have already been killed this year due to train hits, poachers gunning them down or villagers poisoning or electrocuting them. There is now an outcry to remove encroachments from meri, Soi-Rupai and other forests in Sonitpur district, which have reduced elephant habitats. But the hue and cry over the eviction drive at Amchang forest near Guwahati shows how we constantly keep contradicting ourselves. Wildlife protection activists have many good suggestions to offer to Dispur, NFR and other authorities. But first we must be clear whether we want our forests to remain inviolate and pristine, and whether we are at all willing to make sacrifices to safeguard our wildlife.