Knocked down by train, elephant dies

The carcass of the elephant that died in an accident near Madukkarai in Coimbatore on Monday. Photo: Siva Saravanan

The carcass of the elephant that died in an accident near Madukkarai in Coimbatore on Monday. Photo: Siva Saravanan  

A 35-year-old female elephant died after it was knocked down by a speeding train near Madukkarai in Coimbatore early on Monday morning. Hit on the right side of the head, the animal was thrown into a storm water drain. The lactating mother was part of a herd of six elephants.

Forest sources said the herd left the reserve forest on Sunday night, crossed the track and entered an agricultural land at Ettimadai after crossing the highway. Close to midnight, villagers burst firecrackers to chase the elephants away.

The frightened animals tried to cross the track on the foothills of Dharmalingeshwarar hills. Around 12.55 a.m., the Bangalore – Thiruvananthapuram Kochuveli Express from Coimbatore hit the animal between the Madukkarai and Ettimadai railway stations.

The incident happened four km away from Kurumbapalayam, where four elephants were run over by a train in February 2008, and 10 meters from a reflective board erected by forest and railways to warn loco pilots on elephants crossing the section. Five other elephants, including the death elephant’s calf, fled the place. They returned a few minutes later and waited for more than five hours, not allowing anyone to approach the carcass. At around 5. 30 a.m. forest personnel had to chase them away by bursting firecrackers.

The carcass was removed from the track using an earthmover. A post-mortem was conducted near the track by forest veterinarian from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve E. Vijayaraghavan – in the presence of representatives from NGOs.

Kumki recalled

A kumki elephant, Sujay, which played a key role in tranquillising a tusker on Sunday, was brought to tackle the herd if returned to the spot. The carcass was then buried close to the reserve forest.

Hundreds of people from nearby villages gathered were witness to the incident.

“Yesterday a wild elephant, Maharaj was and shifted to the elephant camp (at Varagaliar). Today, one has left us permanently,” says 65-year-old S. Ravikumar of Ettimadai.

Railway officials said that there was no damage to the track or train. The movement of other trains was also not affected in that section.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 8:37:16 PM |

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