Train hits elephant near Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, severely injuring it

The incident occurred around 1.30 a.m. on Monday, when the Thiruvananthapuram-Chennai Express hit the tusker near Walayar

Published - March 15, 2021 02:46 pm IST - COIMBATORE

The male elephant, injured after being hit by a train, is being treated by veterinarians

The male elephant, injured after being hit by a train, is being treated by veterinarians

A male wild elephant was severely injured after being hit by a speeding train near Walayar on the Tamil Nadu–Kerala border, early on Monday morning. The tusker, aged around 25 was dragged by the train, the Thiruvananthapuram-Chennai Express (02696), for about 100 metres along the track before it fell to the slope on the left side.

According to the Forest Department, the accident occurred around 1.30 a.m. on track ‘B’ through which trains move from Palakkad to Coimbatore.

The Forest Department said that the accident location, 506 A/9 on track B, is situated outside the reserve forest area of the Madukkarai forest range of the Coimbatore Forest Division, close to the inter-State border as well as near a waterbody. A curve on the track reduces visibility of the loco pilot at the location, the Department said.

After being informed about the accident, frontline staff of the Department, who were driving out five elephants in a nearby location, rushed to the spot and found the injured tusker.

A veterinary team led by N.S. Manoharan, Regional Joint Director of Veterinary Services (retired), and veterinarian Prabhakaran examined the elephant. According to the veterinarians, the tusker’s hip is severely injured and it is unable to move its hind legs. “It could have also suffered internal injuries in the impact of the accident,” said Dr. Manoharan and added that all efforts were being taken to revive the animal.

District Forest Officer D. Venkatesh and Assistant Conservator of Forests M. Senthil Kumar are camping at the location.

According to Mr. Venkatesh, the injured tusker has already been profiled by the Department. As per the profile, it is the senior-most member of its herd and used to explore areas up to Mundur in Palakkad. The tusker was easily identified by its unique short tusks, pale head and trunk, the tip of which has been cut off due to some form of human interventions, officials said.

The elephant was identified as a ‘main recruiter’, used to bring new individuals into private lands every year. It had crossed the inter-State highway several times and travelled up to Alathur in Palakkad alone, as per the profile.

Early warning system defunct

Though the Forest Department had installed an early warning system on a stretch of Track B which passes through the forest in 2018, it is currently defunct, confirmed an official. Cameras were set up between track locations 506A/1 and 506A/4 for the early warning system, in order to ensure elephants were not hit by speeding trains. A watchtower was also built at the location 606/A where there is a curve on the track, affecting visibility of the loco pilot, especially at night.

The last time an elephant was knocked down by a train on the Tamil Nadu side of the railway track between Palakkad and Coimbatore, was in June 2016.

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