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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A railway track that is strong enough to hold loaded trains that weigh more than the combined weight of 220 elephants is now seen as the best bet to prevent wild animals from straying into human settlements.
“We have plans to use rail fences in the Palakkad division, as a pilot of sorts,” said Dr Anikumar Bhardwaj, the head of forest force (HOFF) and principal chief conservator of forests. The human-elephant conflict is highest in the Mannarkad division (Palakkad) and in North Wayanad. “We have asked our ministry (Ministry of Environment and Forests) to talk to the Railways,” he said.
The head of forest force is also worried about the ill-effects of permanent barriers. “These could prevent other species, too, from moving between forests and could also prompt them to explore new non-forest areas thus defeating the very purpose of a barrier,” Dr Bharadwaj said.
Dr Nameer said that rail fence was ecologically sustainable as it did not hamper the movement of the non-target species. The rail fence will be like two or three parallel railway tracks lifted up and placed vertically, except that the vertical poles will be placed wider apart.