Four more elephants were killed and another injured after being mowed down by the Guwahati-bound Silchar Passenger train near Hawaipur Station in the Lanka area under Hojai district on Saturday evening.
Due to the collision with the elephants, which were trying to cross the railway tracks, the train engine slipped off the tracks.
After the incident, the train communication has been disrupted on the Guwahati-Lumding and Lumding-Guwahati routes.
It may be mentioned that three wild elephants of a herd, including two pregnant females, were killed by the speeding Kanyakumari-Dibrugarh Vivek Express when they were crossing the railway track at Hojai in December in 2016. “One of the elephants was a 4-year-old female, while 2 others were pregnant. One of them aborted a 2-month-old fetus after the accident and we found a 4-month-old fetus inside the other while conducting post mortem,” a local forest officer had said.
It has been alleged that the elephant corridor between Intangki National Park, a wildlife park located in Peren district of Nagaland and Salna forest in Assam has been badly fragmented by systematic encroachment.
Locals and animal lovers allege that the earlier forest area on Assam side from Hojai to Lumding has been encroached by doubtful citizens under the influence of some political leaders.
There is forest area on the right side of the railway tracks from Lumding to Lanka.
An elephant expert on condition of anonymity said, “Any Tom, Dick and Harry and say that please go to Google map to see that the right side of the railway line from Lumding to Lanka, the forest is there but the left side, which was an earlier forest area, now has totally been occupied and converted to a paddy field.”
He also said, “For the elephants, which come out from the Lanka Reserve Forest, the railway line is the only resting or gathering place from where they wait to cross for a safe passage and collide and it becomes their death trap.”
The elephant expert was of the opinion that to save the elephants, the Forest department and the railway authorities should immediately take step so that the elephants can easily cross the railway line in the area.