It’s World Elephant Day but tuskers’ plight continues (India)


A Satish, The New Indian Express

Date Published

PALAKKAD: The World Elephant Day will be observed across the nation with bugle and confetti on Friday. But how safe are tuskers in our environment? The answer is quite disturbing. Instances of train-hit-deaths of elephants are on the rise in Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, a main habitat of wild elephants.

In an effort to check the recurring accidents of wild tuskers in the Kanjikode-Ettimadai sector of the Palakkad-Coimbatore route, a report on the preventive measures and funding plan will be sent to the Railway Board within a month. A three-member committee consisting of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF, forest force) B S Corrie, PCCF (social forestry) C S Yallaki and chief wild life warden G Harikumar, has been formed for this purpose. The committee will study the report submitted by Chief Conservator of Forests (Eastern circle) Pramod G Krishnan.

Corrie told ‘Express’ that a recce was being done in the area and the various options would be studied before submitting the report.He said the possibility of constructing an underpass or ramp where the embankments are steep will be considered. Yallaki said the committee would visit the area soon to study the migratory path of the elephants. Coimbatore DFO A Periaswamy said TN and Kerala Forest Departments had conducted a joint inspection recently and the report would be submitted to TN Government.

Between Madukkarai and Walayar (TN side) four elephants have already been killed in the first half of 2016 after being hit by trains. Now, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department and the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) have installed around 20 cameras on trees and posts 5 to 10 metres away from the track to monitor the behaviour of elephants.

“Most of the deaths happen on the B Line ghat side which passes through the forests. On the TN side, there are embankments on either side of the tracks. Since there is a blind curve, elephants get trapped in the cuttings and it is difficult for them to scramble to safety when they see an approaching train,” said K Karthikeyan, Olavakkode DFO. Karthikeyan said restricting speed of trains and using old rails for fencing would be a better option as solar fencing would require constant maintenance. Easa, a scientist of the Kerala Forest Research Institute, felt constructing watch towers for guards along the crucial cutting points could make a difference.