4 elephants killed by train in Sri Lanka
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. –