Kerala

Rail fences to save Walayar elephants

Exactly a year after commissioning a unique rail fencing project at Karnataka’s Nagarhole National Park to mitigate human-elephant conflict, the same will soon be replicated in a six-km forest area between Kanjikode and Walayar here to save wild elephant from falling victims to speeding trains.

The State government has sanctioned Rs.8 crore for the project.

Under the project, fences using discarded rails would prevent the elephants from entering the tracks.

At Nagarhole, rail fences have been erected on a 33-km stretch in the first phase of the project and it will soon be replicated in forest areas of Bandipur, Madikeri and Virajpet.

Technical sanction

After obtaining administrative nod of the State government for the project in Kanjikode-Walayar belt, the Forest Department is now awaiting technical sanction.

Discussions are also on with the Railway authorities for a joint and time-bound implementation of the project. The plan is to install the fences on a war footing in view of the possible casualties in the ensuing hot summer months.

A wild tusker that was run over by a passenger train on Sunday was the 25th among those elephants perished in the stretch during the last 16 years.

‘More economical’

‘‘Rail fences are more economical and environment-friendly than trenches, solar electric fences, and elephant-proof walls,’’ said Divisional Forest Officer K. Karthikeyan.

Project ratified

A high-level meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday has ratified the project.

It is estimated that a km-long fence costs Rs.61.17 lakh, with the rails priced at Rs.58.37 lakh.

The fences are ecologically sustainable as they do not hamper the movement of the non-targeted species, sources said.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 4:59:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/Rail-fences-to-save-Walayar-elephants/article16744047.ece

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