Bhubaneshwar: Three elephants, including two calves, were killed after a freight train hit them while they were crossing the railway lines in Odisha’s Keonjhar district on Thursday evening.
The three elephants were part of a herd of 22 elephants that were crossing the railway tracks near Bansapani under Joda forest section in Champua range when they were hit by a freight train carrying iron ore.
The forest officials reached the spot upon being alerted, however, they were unable to provide timely treatment to the injured elephants, as the remaining elephants of the herd stood guard and did not let anyone approach the site.
One injured calf died on Thursday night, while another calf and a female elephant succumbed to their injuries early on Friday, officials said.
Keonjhar Divisional forest officer (DFO) Dhanraj Dhamdheere told the Hindustan Times that the forest department had information regarding the presence of a herd in the area, following which officials had kept a strict vigil on their movement.
“Railway officials were also informed about the same so that the train’s speed should not exceed 25 kmph. But the mishap took place due to extreme darkness,” said the DFO.
So far 36 elephants have died in Odisha in the last 10 years in accidents involving collisions with trains.
According to the report by Hindustan Times, Conservationist Biswajit Mohanty said that the state forest department is responsible for all elephant deaths on railway tracks as they have failed to prosecute railway officials involved, so far.
“There is no fear of getting prosecuted among any railway official over elephant deaths as the state forest department never presses charges. The bigwigs in the state wildlife wing should be taken to task over their lackadaisical attitude,” said Mohanty.