Wildlife & Biodiversity

Stakeholders discuss measures to reduce elephant mortality from rail collisions at meet

Organised in mid-March, government agencies and conservation organisations at the meet also agreed to begin a series ‘focused workshops’ on the issue

 
By Rajat Ghai
Last Updated: Friday 29 March 2019
Delegates at the meeting organised at Paryavaran Bhavan on March 20, 2019. Photo: Mayukh Chatterjee
Delegates at the meeting organised at Paryavaran Bhavan on March 20, 2019. Photo: Mayukh Chatterjee/WTI Delegates at the meeting organised at Paryavaran Bhavan on March 20, 2019. Photo: Mayukh Chatterjee/WTI

Government agencies and conservation organisations discussed certain measures to tackle the rising number of deaths of elephants due to collisions with trains at a recent meet in New Delhi.

Night and day foot patrols, Early Warning Systems that could notify engine drivers of elephant presence on the tracks and improvement in the design of landscape features like cuttings, raised railway lines, high speed zones and bling curves were all discussed during the meeting.

Organised at Paryavaran Bhavan on March 20, 2019, workshop was organised by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) along with New Delhi-based conservation non-profit, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) to facilitate discussions with select representatives of the Indian Railways to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to reduce the death of elephants due to collision with locomotives.

Those who attended the meeting included Noyal Thomas, Inspector General of Forests and director, Project Elephant, Vivek Menon, CEO, WTI and Chair Asian Elephant Specialist Group, Chief Wildlife Wardens of Assam, Tamil Nadu and Uttarkhand, and also crucially, representative from the railways.

“It was decided to hold (railway) divisional level meetings to discuss problems on a finer level so that solutions can be chalked out for each individual division,” Mayukh Chatterjee, who heads the Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation Division of WTI, told Down To Earth.

The non-profit has, since 2002, conducted in-depth surveys in the states of Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam and Uttarkhand to identify critical stretches where such mortalities happen regularly.

The Indian Railways are known to be one of the major sources of elephant mortality in India. From 2009 to 2018, 140 elephants were killed by train hits across the country.

Recent statistics show that elephant mortality due to train hit is ranked third, after electrocution and poaching, in the overall elephant deaths due to anthropogenic causes and contribute almost 12 per cent of the total elephant mortality in India.

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