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Protest over jumbo death

Jorhat, July 21: The Rajdhani Express was blocked for nearly an hour at Mariani station here late last night with animal lovers of the town staging a dharna protesting the death of an elephant on the tracks three days ago.

Three elephants died in the 1.6km stretch of the railway track, which passes through the Gibbon wildlife sanctuary, since April last year after being hit by trains. The female elephant that was hit by a train on Tuesday succumbed to its injuries last night. It was being ferried to Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga National Park for better treatment from near Kathalguri tea estate, adjacent to the sanctuary where it was hit by a train.

Abhijit Bhawal, a veterinarian at CWRC who was treating the elephant since Wednesday, said it was hit on the rear, resulting in a fracture of the pelvic girdle.

“The backside of the animal was paralysed,” Bhawal said. The nearly two-year-old elephant was loaded onto a truck last night to be shifted to CWRC for better treatment as its condition did not improve in the last few days.

The elephant, however, died around 8.30pm while it was being taken to the CWRC.

A forest official said the carcass was taken back to the New Sonowal forest beat office near the gibbon sanctuary where it was buried after a post mortem today.

Soon after the news of the death of the elephant spread, wildlife activists in Mariani town gathered at the railway station and staged a dharna, alleging that locomotive drivers were flouting speed limits, resulting in increasing incidents of elephants being hit by trains. The protesters demanded that the trains should not cross the speed limit of 20km per hour while passing through the sanctuary.