Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Elephants to be electronically tagged to avoid train hits


In the wake of rising incidents of elephant deaths due to collisions with trains, the Environment Ministry today decided to electronically tag the animals in high-traffic areas to allow forest officials to keep a track of their movements and prevent accidents.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan announced a slew of measures including appointment of forest officials at railway control rooms in prominent wildlife areas to protect the national heritage animal from "grave danger" and put out the list of well-known vulnerable patches for wild life and convey these to the Railways.

The decisions were taken at a meeting here of a coordination committee of officials from the Railway Ministry and the Environment Ministry in which the recent deaths of elephants due to collisions with trains in Odisha and West Bengal were reviewed.

"A decision has been taken to start a pilot scheme to electronically tag all elephants particularly in high-traffic areas, so that wildlife and forest personnel could keep track of their movements, and warn railway officials well in time to enable them to avoid accidents," Natarajan said.

Often the time lag between spotting of an elephant, and the information reaching the driver of the train was too little to enable effective action to prevent accidents. Once elephants are electronically tagged, forest personnel could track their movements, and keep them away from harm, she said, according to a release.

"A further decision was taken at the meeting, that in prominent wildlife areas, or wherever considered necessary or feasible, forest officials could be posted at railway control rooms to coordinate with, and keep railway staff informed regarding the movement of wild life, particularly elephants, to enable railway authorities to take preventive action, well in advance," she said.


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