CASUALTIES OF THE ANTHROPOCENE
Villagers festooned with flowers the bodies of two female elephants killed by a passenger train en route to Guwahati. Stragglers in a herd of about 15 trying to cross the tracks, the elephants were hit around midnight on Saturday, November 18, as they searched for food. Amchang Wildlife sanctuary is nearby, but Assam forest officials insisted that the elephants did not normally venture onto the tracks. The Asian elephant has been an endangered species for over 30 years now, their numbers declining by an estimated 50 per cent over the past seven decades or so. India is home to just over 27,000 jumbos, with nearly 6,000 living in Assam. Loss of habitat is one of the primary reasons for the declining elephant population and conservationists warn that the pressure exerted by human encroachment continues to force elephants to seek out new routes, leading to such deadly encounters.