Knee-jerk reactions won’t do, a one-time plan is crucial, says wildlife expert

An extensive study has be carried out in the area where the elephants are regularly knocked down to chart out the mitigation plan, says Bilal Habib

Updated - October 21, 2022 07:42 am IST

Published - October 20, 2022 07:38 pm IST - KOCHI

A comprehensive mitigation plan covering the Kerala and Tamil Nadu sides of the forest and the railway line that passes through it alone can save the elephants from speeding trains, feels Bilal Habib, Assistant Nodal Officer of the Elephant Cell of the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. 

“We need to evolve a one-time and a final mitigation plan and not knee-jerk reactions after the accidents. An extensive study needs to be carried out in the area where the elephants are regularly knocked down by speeding trains to understand the issue and evolve an effective mitigation plan. The accidents could recur in the absence of such plans,” feared Dr. Habib. 

One needs to understand the type of mitigation, be it an underpass or an overpass, that is required in an area to provide safe passage for the elephants. Information on factors like the size of the passage, the type of constructions that can be permitted and the areas where they could be provided needs to be known. Details like the width and height of the passages and these areas to which the elephants could be allowed to reach need to be understood, he suggested. 

Power fence, no solution

Agencies like the Forest departments and Railways shall come together to implement the mitigation plan. Power fences cannot be considered an effective solution to prevent the animals. Once the mitigation plan is in place, Railways need not impose any speed restrictions and the trains could move through the area at a higher speed, he felt. 

Recently, the Union Ministry for Railways asked its officials to provide details of at least 100 locations across sensitive elephant and tiger habitats in the country to construct permanent mitigation measures on existing railway lines to prevent wildlife-train collision issues and deaths. Walayar in Kerala is one among the locations, he said. 

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