Killer night in North Bengal - 7 elephants dead

26 September, 2010

The accident – the worst single episode involving elephants killed by trains – has caused shock waves, and key meetings are scheduled over the coming days to address the issue. Public pressure must not let up. Here are details of an Avaaz petition, and various links to reports on the incident. – Nirmal Ghosh








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Killer night in North Bengal - 7 elephants dead

On the night of Sep 22, 2010, under a harvest moon, seven elephants from a wild herd were killed by a speeding goods train in North Bengal.

Dear friends across India,

Shockingly, seven helpless elephants were mowed down this week by a speeding goods train. But this terrible slaughter could have been prevented.

The massacre site in Jalpaiguri is a designated jumbo corridor where railway drivers are required to provide safe crossing to the elephants. Negligent train drivers have killed 150 elephants in India since 1987 despite the Environment Minster and the elephant task force repeatedly calling for the Railway Ministry to enforce safety measures. Only a deafening outcry from citizens across our country could push the Railway Minister to act.

It is time to put an end to this carnage. The two Ministers meet next week to discuss concrete measures to protect elephants. Let's build a massive movement to protect our elephants. Sign the petition to the Railway Minister Mamata Bannerjee calling on her to hold those responsible to account and immediately enforce crucial elephant protection measures -- It will be delivered directly to the Minister.


Seven elephants were killed this week by a speeding train. But this terrible slaughter could have been prevented.

Only a deafening outcry from citizens will push the Railway Minister to enforce safety measures and protect our elephants -- sign the urgent petition now!


Elephants are highly intelligent and sensitive animals. They never abandon their injured and dead, and last week the whole herd was killed as they tried to save two calves injured on the track. But this slaughter is totally avoidable -- elephant paths are well known to the railway drivers and they always cross by night and can be spotted from a distance, if the trains are moving at the right speed.

Our wild elephants are already under siege from poachers, but the elephant task force has devised simple measures to protect them from trains: make drivers accountable for their actions, place speed governors on trains in sensitive areas, enforce patrolling along the tracks, stop the movement of good trains at night in elephant corridors and enforce strict safety measures in the 88 elephants corridors.

The Environment Minister has expressed outrage about this latest tragedy -- he was about to declare elephants our national heritage animal and announce the creation of a National Conservation Authority to ensure their protection. Let's support the Environment Minister and send a powerful signal to the Railway Minister that India demands immediate action before we lose one more elephant.

Throughout our history our elephants have been revered. It is now up to all of us to ensure their urgent protection from this brutal and senseless slaughter.

Sign the petition now!

With sadness, hope and determination
Parvinder and the whole Avaaz team

Sources:

Seven elephants killed by speeding train

Jairam Ramesh Expresses Deep Concern Over the Death of Seven Elephants on Rail Tracks in Jalpaiguri

Panel: India must secure elephant reserves

Stop goods trains at night, say experts

KOLKATA:

With a speeding goods train killing seven elephants in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district, the matter has been taken up with environment and forest ministry and efforts on to meet railway minister Mamata Banerjee.

"We have taken up the matter with the Union ministry of environment and forest and a high-level meeting has been scheduled next week to discuss ways to prevent such accidents," Chief wildlife warden West Bengal S B Mondol said.

Subsequently, a meeting with Railway Board officials and the forest department will be held in New Delhi on September 28, he said.

Chief conservator of forest (Wildlife), North Bengal S Patel said he would submit a report on the accident.

Describing the death of seven elephants yesterday as "unprecedented and shocking", WWF (WB) Director Sashwati Sen said they were trying to meet railway minister Mamata Banerjee.

"Unless the matter is taken up at the top level, no positive step will be taken to prevent such accidents. Our earlier appeals have fallen on deaf ears," she said.

Sen said the WWF had earlier asked for halting movement of night trains in the New Jalpaiguri-Alipurduar section passing through wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks and restricting their speed.

Principal chief conservator of forests Atanu Raha said accidents involving elephants had increased after conversion of tracks from meter gauge to broad gauge.

He said elephants being intelligent knew about timings of couple of trains that passed when the tracks were metre gauge.

After the tracks were converted to broad gauge and goods train began running at all times of the day it confused the pachyderms, he said.

Col S Banerjee, currently director, WPSI, Eastern region, who had filed a PIL in 2001 opposing the gauge conversion, said his apprehensions were now coming true.

He said all wildlife NGOs should jointly pressurise the government to adopt measures to save elephants and other animals from trains.

With various measures were being suggested by the forest department and NGOs, field director of Buxa Tiger Reserve R P Saini said the only alternative to prevent such accidents was to construct elevated tracks in that area.

However, secretary of Nature Environment and Wildlife Society Biswajit Roy Chowdhury, expressed doubt whether the railways would agree to construct elevated tracks for such a long distance as it would be a costly affair.

He said construction of a separate railway line might be of some help.


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