Around a dozen elephants run over by trains in the past three years
Steps have been initiated jointly by the Southern Railway and the Forest Departments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to prevent the incidents of wild elephants being run over by speeding trains in the Walayar forests.
It has been decided to block the movement of elephants near the ‘B' railway line (one of the two railway tracks running through the forests) by erecting stone walls and digging trenches. The ‘B' line lies closer to the deep forests and the other track, ‘A' line, is farther from the forests. Thus, preventing elephants near the ‘B' track would ensure that elephants do not enter either line.
Omprakash Kaler, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Northern region, said that a joint meeting of the Southern Railway and the Forest Departments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu held recently had decided to ask the ACC Ltd. and Malabar Cements to ensure that their activities did not lead to the blockage of the elephant passage within the forests.
Elephants' habitats should be improved, with focus on water and forage, in the reserve forest areas of both the States, the meeting said. It also decided to constitute a joint team of officials of Railways and the Forest Departments of the two States to implement steps to prevent the running over of elephants by trains.
The meeting urged the Wildlife Trust of India to continue its studies on the issue and offer suggestions to prevent the entry of elephants on the tracks. It was also decided to organise workshops on human-elephant conflict and habitat improvement with the involvement of all stakeholders.
In the past three years, over a dozen wild elephants had been run over by trains in the Walayar forests.
Though a joint meeting of the Departments of Forests of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu and Railways in 2009 had decided to dig trenches and put up electric fencing on both sides of the railway tracks to prevent elephant deaths, the suggestions remained mostly on paper.