Ramps laid near rail tracks to prevent jumbo deaths (Madukkarai, India)


MK Ananth, The Hindu

Date Published

The Forest Department has laid two ramps one on either side of ‘Line B’ of railway track between Madukkarai and Walayar to facilitate elephants cross the railway tracks at ease. The ramps have been laid as part of the efforts jointly taken by the Railways and Forest Departments to avert death of elephants on the tracks.

Train hits have claimed the lives of two jumbos on the track in the Madukkarai range in Coimbatore District recently.

Studies by the two departments showed that the elephants could not get down from the track as it was nearly 15 meters high from the track level. ‘Line A’ track between Coimbatore and Palakkad runs for 1.5 km through the reserve forest and was not elevated from the ground level like ‘Line B’ that runs for a stretch of three km through the reserve forest.

More than a dozen camera traps were fixed to study the movement of elephants across the tracks in the reserve forest.

“After the study we strategically prepared ramps on either side of Line B at the 506/4 km at Solakarai beat in Navakarai section of Madukkarai range,” forest range officer M. Senthil Kumar told The Hinduon Monday.

Ramp laying work started about a month ago and has been completed using nearly 200 truck loads of sand (provided by ACC). The ramps are 15 meters wide on either side of the track and more than 30 meters long as they taper to the ground level, said the range officer.

Two camera traps have been set on either side of the track to study the movement of elephants on and off the ramp and track. These ramps are also expected to bring down death of other wild animals .

On the other hand the department has also set up a percolation pond about 100 meters ahead of the ramp so that the necessity of the animals to cross the track is reduced. “Deer, Indian Gaur and other wild animals have started using the percolation pond. A camera trap has also been set up near the pond to study its utility,” Mr. Senthil said.

Five more anti-depredation watchers (elephant chasers) have been recruited by the department for monitoring and chasing the elephants from the track at night when a train is approaching. This has increased their strength to nine in that stretch.