A female elephant and two calves were mowed down by a train when they were crossing a railway track near Ettimadai on the outskirts of Coimbatore on Friday, November 26. The incident took place at Mavuthampathy village next to Navakkarai in Coimbatore district, within the limits of the Madukkarai forest range. The three elephants were crossing the railway track around 9 pm on Friday night, when the Chennai Mail going from Mangaluru towards Chennai hit the elephants near the Walayar-Ettimadai A line, killing them on the spot.
The three elephants are believed to have been crossing the tracks to drink water from the Valayaru River on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, a common phenomenon in the area. Seeing the elephants crossing the tracks, the loco pilot reportedly tried to chase them away, and also tried to push the brakes on the train. Yet, the train collided with the three elephants.
Forest officials and a team of veterinarians rushed to the spot and removed the elephantsâ€™ bodies from the tracks. The bodies will be examined and cremated in the area. Railway and forest department officials questioned the train driver and assistant, and the train was later pulled back to Walayar using another engine. The engine that hit the elephants were seized by authorities.
Forest department officials said that an investigation has been initiated, and action would be taken under the Wildlife Protection Act if the train was operated in violation of regulations and if it was running at a high speed. Regional Conservator of forests Ramasubramaniam said that the driver and his assistant will be investigated.
Earlier in March, a 20-year-old male elephant was hit by a train while walking near Pudupatti of Madukkarai forest range in Coimbatore district reportedly after drinking water at the Walayar River. The elephant died within a few hours despite efforts to provide treatment. Earlier this year, an RTI response revealed that as many as eight wild elephants have died in train accidents between Kanjikode and Madukkarai railway stations in the past five years.