WEST BENGAL: Villagers gather around the tragic sight of the body of a bull elephant, the latest victim to be struck down on India’s railways by a speeding train.

A formidable beast weighing several tonnes, the fully grown male was hit by the Siliguri-Alipurduar Express passenger train yesterday while crossing the track in West Bengal’s Dooars Forest, near the village of Mongpong.

The line had to be completely shut down while staff worked to remove the magnificent creature.

The death is yet another reminder of the dangers that India’s trains pose to elephants. At least five elephants have been knocked down and killed by speeding trains in the past two years.Opened in 1949, the track traverses  five forests densely populated with elephants - Buxa, Jaldapara, Gorumara, Chapramari and Mahananda.

Throughout its length, it criss-crosses common jungle tracks, which are corridors for elephant herds migrating from Assam to the Nepal forests through the Dooars. Casualties have been a common feature of life around the track ever since. In response to the problem, speeds were restricted to 50km.–DM