Elephants carrying out ‘revenge’ attacks on villages after one of its herd was hit and killed by a train
It is said that elephants never forget, and following an incredible series of events in eastern India last week it would appear they don’t forgive easily either.
When one of their number was struck and killed by a passenger train, a grieving herd went on the rampage carrying out a series of revenge attacks on nearby villages.
The elephant was killed when it was hit by the Kolkata-Delhi Duronto Express near the village of Matari on Wednesday last week.
The herd of about 15 elephants appeared to grieve for their fallen comrade, hanging round the spot where it was killed.
Foresters initially managed to chase them off by bursting crackers but they didn’t go far and refused to leave the surrounding area.
Then on Thursday night they attempted to return to the spot near Matari railway station where their friend had been killed.
Local villagers, however, had kept a vigil and kept them at bay by bursting crackers and hitting drums.
The following night elephants hit back rampaging into nearby Belwatand village where they damaged several houses.
A specialist elephant-chasing squad was called in from Bengal who managed to drive the herd out of the area.
But again the herd returned this time damaging homes and demolishing part of a schoolhouse in Hariktand village.
Local Forestery Officer Satish Chandra Rai told the Times of India: ‘The elephants have damaged some houses here’. Authorities have now instructed train drivers ‘to be more careful’.
Sadly elephants being hit and killed by trains is not uncommon in India - Since 2010, at least 50 have been killed across the country’s vast rail network.
Although extreme, this type of behaviour is not uncommon in elephants and has been well documented.
Wildlife activist D S Srivastava, told the treehugger.com website: ‘Elephants often try to return to the site of such accidents as they believe that their mate has only been injured and could be rescued by them.
'Even when an elephant dies a natural death, their friends cover the body with bushes and small tree branches.'
Dozens of elephants have died in recent years in such accidents as trains run through national parks and forests. Activists have called for trains to lower their speeds through such areas.
India’s wild elephant population was recently estimated at about 26,000.