SILIGURI: An elephant calf was killed in the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary after being hit by a Siliguri-bound passenger train from Bamanhat (in Cooch Behar’s Dinhata) late on Monday evening.The engine of the train also got derailed after it hit the herd of elephants in the sanctuary .

According to sources, the carcass of the calf was stuck under the engine and the forest department and the railways could not start rescue operations till 9 pm as the incident took place deep inside the forest.

The incident took place near the railway pillar number 218 which is in between Gulma and Sevoke in the sanctuary. Owing to the intensity of the collision, the engine of the train got derailed.A Bamanhat-bound train from Siliguri was reversed from Gulma and later cancelled. “It is pitch dark inside the forest and the herd is standing near the train. We are not being able to launch our operation because of this. We are also not sure how many jumbos have been killed,” said a forester. The railways, too, could not send any rescue train till 9 pm because of the presence of the herd at the spot.

“Unless the railways stop running trains on this stretch after dusk, such incidents will keep happening,” said conservationist Animesh Bose. Conserva tionist Hirak Nandi also said that night traffic must be suspended on this stretch.”Such incidents see a rise in NovemberDecember, since this is the season when paddy ripens. Also, fog hits the visibility of the motormen now,” Nandi said.

This is the second such incident in three weeks. On November 22, a fullgrown tusker was mowed down by a speeding goods train near Sishubari, on the outskirts of Dalgaon forest at Birpara. According to Bose, as many as 62 elephants have been killed in such accidents on this particular stretch -between New Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Junction -in the last 11years.

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Source: TOI-Kol