Train hits killed 49 ele­phants in 3 years

En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry pro­vides num­bers on wild an­i­mals killed in road and train ac­ci­dents

The Hindu - - NATION - Shiv Sa­hay Singh

In 2016, the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, For­est and Cli­mate Change (MOEFCC) re­leased ‘Eco-friendly mea­sures to mit­i­gate im­pacts of lin­ear in­fra­struc­ture’, an ad­vi­sory doc­u­ment for mit­i­gat­ing hu­man-an­i­mal con­flicts. De­spite this ad­vi­sory, and many oth­ers is­sued by con­ser­va­tion­ists and or­gan­i­sa­tions, deaths of wild an­i­mals in road and rail­way ac­ci­dents have con­tin­ued un­abated.

The MoEFCC told the Ra­jya Sabha, in re­sponse to a ques­tion by MP T. Sub­barami Reddy, that 49 ele­phants were killed in Rail­way ac­ci­dents be­tween 2016-18 (nine in 2015-16, 21 ca­su­al­ties in 2016-17 and 19 in 2017-18). In the same 3-year pe­riod, three tigers were killed in road ac­ci­dents while eight tigers were mowed down by trains.

Three li­ons died in a train ac­ci­dent in the Amerli dis­trict of Gu­jarat in De­cem­ber 2018. Prior to this, 10 li­ons died in rail­way and road ac­ci­dents be­tween 2016-2018.

Most deaths

West Ben­gal and As­sam to­gether ac­counted for 37 out of the 49 deaths of ele­phants on train tracks across the coun­try. While the num­ber of ele­phant ca­su­al­ties on rail­way tracks in West Ben­gal has fallen from five in 2015-16 to three in 2016-17 to two in 2017-18, the num­ber of ele­phants dy­ing in rail­way ac­ci­dents in As­sam have in­creased in the same pe­riod — the State recorded three ele­phant deaths by ac­ci­dents in 2015-16, ten in 2016-17 and 14 in 2017-18.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry, sev­eral no­ti­fi­ca­tions have been is­sued, in­clud­ing one on De­cem­ber 28, 2016, to Chief Wildlife War­dens, to im­ple­ment pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures for min­imis­ing ele­phant deaths caused by train ac­ci­dents.

Jose Louise, a con­ser­va­tion­ist with the Wildlife Trust of In­dia (WTI), which has de­vel­oped a mo­bile app for mon­i­tor­ing road kills, said that when the in­fra­struc­ture was de­vel­oped, “it was never thought it could lead to the death of so many wild an­i­mals.”

Mr. Louise said data gen­er­ated from the app can also pro­vide an­swers on reg­u­lat­ing traf­fic and cut­ting wildlife ca­su­al­ties in the fu­ture.

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