RANCHI: Around 15 elephants, who are mourning a member of their herd after it was was hit by a train near Matari railway station under Dhanbad division of the East Central Railway on Howrah-New Delhi main railway route a couple of days ago, have attacked villages and demolished parts of a school and several houses. Villagers have been keeping night-long vigil, but haven’t been to drive away the herd.
Wildlife activist D S Srivastava said elephants have a strong sense of family bonding and often resort to revenge attacks. He said: “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.” Srivastava added that the herd will try to return to this site again and again.
Railway authorities are also concerned and are maintaining a vigil on tracks. “Train drivers have also been asked to be more careful,” said Amrendra Das spokesperson for Dhanbad division.
A herd of elephants had stopped several trains on the main Delhi-Howrah route near Matari railway station on Wednesday night after one member of the herd was killed by the Kolkata-Delhi Duronto Express. The elephants left the area only after the railway’s disaster management team with foresters arrived on the spot and burst crackers .
The herd, however, did not go very far and were spotted in the Belwatand forests near Srirampur hill on Thursday morning. The foresters gathered experts who are experts in chasing the jumbos and tried to chase them away but they did not go away. In the intervening night of Thursday and Friday they tried to go near Matari railway station where their friend had died. The villagers who had kept a vigil, however, did not allow them to go to the site by bursting crackers and hitting drums. Several houses were damaged in the Belwatand village in the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.
The foresters called in an elephant-chasing squad from Bengal and drove the herd beyond Srirampur hill on Friday afternoon. The herd again tried to visit the spot on Friday night and damaged l houses in Hariktand village, situated on the foothills of Srirampur hill.
Dhanbad DFO Satish Chandra Rai said he has not received any claims for compensation from villagers. “The elephants have damaged some houses here,” said Rai. He said the extent of damage would be known only after the villagers’ claim compensation. Sources, however, said around 10 houses have been damaged.