January 17, 2018
The Times of India
See link for photo.
COIMBATORE: The forest department has installed eight sensors with infrared facilities on both sides of a railway track at Madukkarai to reduce the incidents of wild elephants being hit by speeding trains.
The forest department has been taking many steps to prevent wild elephant deaths while crossing the railway track on the B (Palakkad -Coimbatore) and A (Coimbatore-Palakkad) railway lanes. While the train traverses through the reserve forest for 3.5km on B-lane, it chugs through 1.5 km stretch of reserve forest on A-lane.
As many as 12 wild elephants were killed by speeding trains on the two lanes since 2006. The forest department fixed the sensors last week.
Madukkarai forest range officer M Senthilkumar said, "We have fixed four sensors on one side of the track and another four sensors on another side of the railway track on a trial basis. Each sensor can catch any movements even during night within 150 metres. We have also fixed an early warning system in the watchtower located near the track at Madukkarai. Whenever elephants cross the track, the forest range officer, forester and the people who are on duty at the watchtower will get SMS from the sensors. Immediately, anti-depredation watchers will rush to the spot to chase away the wild elephants from the track."
The forest department has deputed 12 anti-depredation watchers (ADW) at the watchtower round the clock. They would monitor the movements of wild elephants near the track.
"We plan to feed the mobile numbers of Palakkad railway division officials into the sensors so that they could also get SMS and in turn alert the loco pilots to reduce the speed of the train on a particular stretch," Senthilkumar added.
He said that the forest department has created three ramps in different locations near the railway lane to help the wild elephants to easily cross the track.
S Ramasubramanian, Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore circle, told TOI that they have created good rapport with the railway department and stopped the elephant deaths on railway track from August 2016.