4 ele­phants killed by train in Sri Lanka

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A PAS­SEN­GER train hit and killed an ele­phant and three calves in north­ern Sri Lanka yes­ter­day, the lat­est deadly ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing the ven­er­ated an­i­mals.

The herd was walk­ing across a newly up­graded rail­way line that runs through a jun­gle area when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred at Ched­diku­lam, about 260 kilo­me­tres (162 miles) from Colombo.

“One of the baby ele­phants was dragged about 300 me­tres [1000 feet] along the track af­ter be­ing hit,” a lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cial said, adding that it was thought to be Sri Lanka’s worst ac­ci­dent in­volv­ing ele­phants. No pas­sen­gers were in­jured. Although ele­phants are con­sid­ered sa­cred in Sri Lanka and are legally pro­tected, nearly 200 are killed ev­ery year, many by farm­ers af­ter the an­i­mals stray onto their land.

Ma­raud­ing ele­phants also claim the lives of about 50 peo­ple an­nu­ally, mostly by tram­pling through vil­lages built near their habi­tats.

In 2011, three baby ele­phants were killed by a pas­sen­ger train along the same track in a for­est area about 150km from Colombo.

In May this year, four ele­phants in­clud­ing two calves were killed by light­ning in the coun­try’s north.

Sri Lanka’s ele­phant pop­u­la­tion has dwin­dled to just more than 7000, down from an es­ti­mated 12,000 in 1900. –

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