Tamil Nadu

Forest Department proposes more watch towers for elephants’ safety

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj on Monday visiting the railway line near Walayar in Coimbatore district where a train knocked down three elephants on Friday. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The Forest Department has proposed to intall more watch towers in forest areas on the sides of the two railway lines that connect Kerala and Tamil Nadu via Walayar, for the safety of elephants.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Shekhar Kumar Niraj instructed T.K. Ashok Kumar, District Forest Officer of Coimbatore Forest Division, to initiate work on setting up watch towers at the earliest after identifying a suitable location to monitor elephant movement.

Mr. Niraj on Monday visited the railway lines that connect Kanjikode in Kerala and Ettimadai in Tamil Nadu, near Walayar where a Chennai-bound train knocked down three elephants, including a pregnant one, on Friday night. He also instructed the DFO to initiate foot patrols on the two railway lines to drive away elephants that come to the tracks and agricultural fields.

In addition, Mr. Niraj directed Coimbatore Forest Division officials to use drones fitted with infrared camera to monitor the presence of elephants on or near railway lines. He said that an integrated use of watch towers, foot patrols and drones could avoid elephants being hit by trains. Men engaged in the three works should have frequent communication.

The department will suggest to the Southern Railway’s Palakkad division to clear vegetation on the sides of the railway lines that affect the visibility of loco pilots, install more ramps across the tracks to enable easy crossing for elephants and restrict the speed of trains on vulnerable sections and other measures.

DFO Ashok Kumar told Mr. Niraj that the team of experts from the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change that inspected railway lines in September this year also proposed installation of additional watch towers. At present, there is a watch tower at a vulnerable section on B line.

Mr. Niraj visited A and B lines and a reserve forest patch sandwiched by the two lines. Meanwhile, the Forest Department submitted a wildlife offence report before a judicial magistrate court in Coimbatore in connection with its investigation into the deaths of the three elephants.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 1:31:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/forest-department-proposes-more-watch-towers-for-elephants-safety/article37761415.ece

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