|A sad sight, an elephant struck by a speeding train. www.wrrcbangalore.org/|
|elephants crossing, Kerala www.thehindu.com|
The Elephant- human conflicts in India as the days go by, do not show any sign of slowing down. This problem has been very much in south India especially in Kerala near the border areas of Kerala and Tamil Nadu states for years with no quick-fix solution in sight. Because of major factor such as urbanization, dam projects, etc., elephants are being squeezed into smaller and smaller places. Further, the farmers in the border areas of the habitats, plant those crops or trees on their farms that elephants love to eat and frequent such places. They cause severe damages to crops and sometimes to the people living in their path of access to areas where food and water are available in plenty. Consequently affection and admiration for these largest mammals are displaced by fear and anger among those whose lands are raided by them. The shrinkage of habitat and conflict with human are among the biggest threats to the elephants.
|Jumbo giving nice kick from his rear leg!! /i3.ytimg.com|
|Elephants crossing the railroad track, Walayar, Kerala www.thehindu.com/|
It is reported that since 1978, 17 elephants have died in 12 accidents along the 16.25 km to 25 km long track and 18 km long track along the Podanur and Palakkad section. In the last two months a couple of deaths had taken place in this section and a study on the patterns of behavior of the elephants by the authorities based on camera trap images found out that the elephants were crossing the tracks to reach the water body on the other side. The main reason for their long stay on the track is 25 feet elevation on both sides of the track which forces the jumbos to slow down on the track before ascend or descend the gradient. This rail road track is the busiest one, linking many cities of Kerala to the other states, including major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata. The frequency of trains is very high.
The animal lovers and the government agencies are keeping their fingers crossed as such unfortunate accidents do occur despite precautions. The curved tracks near Walayar hinder the visibility for the driver and the elephants stand there stunned on the track, and do nor have enough time to move out of the track on seeing the speeding train. A train moving at a speed of 25 km is fatal for an elephant.
To maintain ecological balance of the habitat and to safeguard the safety of elephants and the people living just away from the habitats, the government has to take serious steps. As for the death of jumbo on the train track, building ramp is a good proposition. How well it will work, we have to wait and see.