Two wild elephants were killed after they were run over by a night passenger train in Assam’s Morigaon district in India on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

The wild elephants, both adults, were reportedly walking on the railway tracks when they collided sideways with the engine of Dibrugarh-bound Rajdhani Express, which was on its way to the eastern tea-growing town of Dibrugarh, near Jagiroad, Assam at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30, Daily News reported.

“According to the preliminary report by the locomotive driver, the jumbos collided sideways with the engine. The driver had reported the death of one elephant and injury to another. Later, it was learned that both died,” a Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) spokesperson said.

The elephants are believed to have ventured into the area from a nearby forest. They were buried at the site on Wednesday, Dec. 1, following an autopsy.

Assam wildlife ranger Dilip Kumar Das said that it is common for wild elephants to wander into human habitations this time of year as the rice fields in the areas are ready for harvesting.

In a similar but unrelated incident, three elephants were also killed by a Chennai-bound train on the A-line between Walayar and Ettimadai in India on Nov. 26 night.

Following this, a joint meeting between Tamil Nadu Forest Department officials and the Palghat Division of the Southern Railway was held on Tuesday, Nov. 30, to come up with measures to prevent elephants from being hit by trains on the railway lines connecting Tamil Nadu and Kerala via Walayar.

The meeting explored possibilities of reducing the speed of trains to below 35 kilometers per hour, increasing the number of field trackers, using night visions binoculars, and initiating drones equipped with a thermal sensor, the Hindu reported.

The meeting also suggested having a number of go-slow signal lights with different colors before paths where elephants are most likely to cross. The body also suggested the installation of a speed detector around these areas.

Meanwhile, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit analysis report stated that at least 61 elephants had died between 2016 and 2019 across the country due to accidents on the railway tracks, Hindustan Times reported.

The report pointed out that the forest department and the Indian railways had not prioritized the construction of underpass/overpass infrastructure across railway tracks to facilitate elephant movement. The report also mentioned that several elephant corridor signage boards that were placed to forewarn drivers were incorrectly positioned, defeating their very purpose.

The report also pointed out that even though a speed restriction of 50 kilometers per hour was imposed in identified elephant passages, the zonal railways have not followed the instruction thoroughly and have caused numerous accidents and animal deaths.

Villagers watch the two elephants that died after colliding sideways with a train in Morigaon, Assam, on Dec. 1, 2021 BIJU BORO/AFP via Getty Images

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