Elephant death worries WWF
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Dec 18: Four days after the Railways instructed its officials to reduce train speeds to 30 km per hour when crossing elephant corridors, a train engine killed three more elephants, including a calf, yesterday. The incident occurred at about 5 am between Kampur and Jamumukh stations near gaon in Assam. The incidents of death of elephant in the State have worried WWF India, an NGO.
Just about three weeks ago, three elephants, including two pregnt elephants and a juvenile, were killed at Hojai in the gaon district of Assam on December 4. A day later, another elephant died after being hit by a train in Goalpara district.
“The continuing apathy of various authorities towards this increasing death toll of elephants is hard to fathom. This alarming rise in the number of elephant deaths in the state should be a wake-up call for the Indian Railways, the Forest Department and the district administration in the State, requiring immediate action to put an end to this continuous horror, now playing out in Assam at a regular pace. The Assam government, Northeast Frontier Railway-Indian Railways, Project Elephant, and District Administrations need to make a concerted effort to immediately stop the tragic deaths,” WWF India said.
According to the WWF publication, Right of Passage-Elephant Corridors of India, 41% of elephant corridors are in Northeast India and 25% of the elephant corridors in Assam have railway lines passing through them. As elephants search for food and water, they roam over a large extent of area through villages and towns, crossing railway lines and farms. Linear infrastructure development near and in corridors that elephants use to move from one forest area to another, force them to cross railway tracks where they end up getting hit by trains.
There are 27 identified elephant corridors under the Northeast Frontier Railway, WWF India said. However, elephant herds are also found to be now crossing railway tracks which are not earmarked as vulnerable. In light of this, a fresh assessment needs to be done to identify new vulnerable railway sections and an early warning system needs to be put into place immediately to reduce these casualties.
WWF-India has been working in Assam for the last 15 years for the conservation of elephants and its habitat.