The timely action of two loco pilots saved the lives of a dozen elephants including calves in Jharkhand’s Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR).
The Howrah-Jabalpur Shaktipunj Express was bound for West Bengal through dense forest at PTR at around 6 pm on Friday at a speed of about 70 kmph when locomotive pilots suddenly caught a herd of elephants on the tracks between Chipdohar and Hehegra railway stations. Crossing it, he said.
“Loco pilot AK Vidyarthi and I quickly pulled the emergency brake and the train came to a halt about 60 meters away from the herd,” assistant loco pilot Rajinikanth Choubey told news agency PTI.
“We felt a sense of satisfaction after saving the lives of at least 12 elephants,” he said.
Choubey said there was no speed limit on the part where the incident took place but the speed limit was 25 kmph after the ‘causation line’ was 500 meters away.
A PTR official said the existing double-line passes through a distance of 11 km between Chhipdohar and Hehegra in the core area of the reserve.
Spread over an area of 1,129.93 sq km, this reserve has 47 species of mammals and 174 species of birds. There are about 250 elephants in the reserve.
PTR’s field director Kumar Ashutosh said, ‘We thank the loco pilots for saving the lives of 12 elephants. He said that due to the continuous movement of trains through the dense forest, there is a threat to the wildlife in the reserve.
“Many elephants were killed in the past in this section. I would urge other loco pilots to be vigilant like Choubey and Vidyarthi,” he said.