Sri Lanka elephant calves killed by train

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe train line runs through a jungle area

Four elephants, including three calves, have died after being hit by a passenger train in northern Sri Lanka.

They were walking across a recently upgraded railway line that runs through a wild jungle area in Cheddikulam, 162 miles (260km) north of Colombo.

One of the calves was dragged for some 300 metres along the track, police told AFP news agency.

Wildlife protection officers will be now sent to help train drivers avoid such incidents, the government says.

"We are also going to discuss this issue with railway officials and plan to install night vision cameras on these trains," Wildlife Department director WSK Pathiratna told BBC Sinhala.

There have been several recent fatal incidents involving elephants in Sri Lanka:

  • A group of four elephants, including three calves, fell into a well in a Cheddikulam village last week. Rescuers managed to get them out of the well eventually using an excavator, but one calf died, according to Sri Lanka's Sunday Times
  • In May, four elephants were killed by lightning in the north
image captionOne of the four elephants died after they became trapped in a well

Elephants are seen as sacred in Sri Lanka and protected by law.

Still, around 200 elephants are killed every year by humans, including by farmers living near wildlife areas. Elephants also kill more than 50 people each year on average.

Just over 7,000 elephants remain in Sri Lanka, down from some 12,000 in 1900.

More on this story