In a tragic accident on Tuesday, a black panther was killed after being hit by a train on a railway bridge in Kundapura forest range in Karnataka. The animal in search of food had walked out near the Badakere rail overbridge at Bada village in Byndoor taluk of Udupi district where the four-year-old animal was mowed down by a speeding train.
Range Forest Officer, Prabhakar Kulal, told the media that it must have been close to the middle of the track on the railway bridge to cross the Souparnika. He added that while the animal has quick reflexes in responding to exigencies, due to little space it appears that it had no time or space to respond to the approaching train and was hit on the head.
Prabhakar further stated that black panthers are the melanistic color variant of big cat species and not commonly sighted in Kundapura. He explained that there are around 10 leopards in this range and accidents like that are rare. He also added that they have rescued two panthers from wells before but this is the first case where a panther has died after being hit by a train.
The body of the panther was discovered by passers-by in the middle of the Mangaluru-Mumbai track on the railway bridge, who informed the Forest Department officials. Forest officials informed the Railways about the tragic accident, then the body was removed and a post-mortem of the panther was conducted before cremating it.
Images of the tragic incident were shared on social media by IFS officer Parveen Kaswan and have been causing outrage among animal rights and conservation activists. "Bagheera in his own land killed by an alien machine," Kaswan tweeted.
That is a sad picture. A rare black panther killed by a speeding train in Kundapura, Karnataka on Monday. Bagheera in his own land killed by an alien machine. Fb pics. pic.twitter.com/woGEiFM04t— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) February 3, 2021
Deputy conservator of forest, Ashish Reddy, Kundapur, while talking to the media said that he is awaiting a report on the incident from the Byndoor range forest officer. He further stated that Prima Facie, the death was caused by a speeding train and that the panther succumbed to massive internal injuries. He informed them that they have conducted a post mortem and disposed of the carcass by burning it as per the procedure. He also assured me that further action will be taken based on the field report.
Meanwhile, the Indian Railways has proposed to expand the railway tracks by doubling it in various regions including in the Western Ghats. There have been massive protests against the proposal after it was announced that the Indian government announced that it's going ahead with the project.
Environment activists also joined the protest stating that it would result in cutting several trees and disturbing the habitat in the Ghats.
The tragic incident comes months after photos of black panthers from Kabini, Karnataka, went viral.