COIMBATORE: The death of a wild elephant after being hit by a train while crossing the track along with its herd in Palakkad in Kerala early on Friday has come as a wakeup call to authorities in Tamil Nadu.
The adult female elephant, which died in Palakkad was part of a larger herd crossing the railway track near Walayar, when the Kanniyakumari-Dibrugarh Vivek Express knocked it down in the early morning hours. Its calf is suspected to have been injured and a search is on by the Kerala Forest Department to provide treatment.
As many as 11 elephants have been killed in train hits in Coimbatore section since 2008. “Recurring elephant mortality in train accidents reflects the necessity to take more proactive steps. Several initiatives were proposed jointly by the railways and the Forest Department to reduce train hits, but there seems to be some delay in their implementation,” said K Kalidas of ‘Osai’, an NGO.
“As a permanent solution, the railways should explore the possibility of finding alternative routes and completely stop running of trains through forest areas,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Forest Department in Tamil Nadu has taken up various steps to prevent elephant deaths in train-hit incidents. “Tender process is underway for setting up an artificial intelligence based monitoring system to prevent elephant hits. As part of the proposal, thermal sensor cameras were to be fixed on the vulnerable sector between Madukkarai and Walayar. A 13 km stretch on the tracks of ‘A’ line and ‘B’ line running through forest and its adjoining areas has been identified to be vulnerable in Tamil Nadu ,” said a senior forest official.