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At least 45 Elephants, 150 Wild Animals Killed on Railway Tracks Between 2019 and 2021: Data

At least 45 elephants have been killed on railway tracks between 2019 and 2021, while more than 150 other wild animals have died the same way during the said period, government data analysed by CNN-News18 shows.

Further, elephant deaths on tracks have nearly doubled from 10 to 19 between 2019 and 2021, as per the data from the Ministry of Railways presented in the Lok Sabha. The deaths of other wild animals have increased 1.5 times – from 44 in 2019 to 69 in 2021.

Among all the zones, the Northeast Frontier, with headquarters in Guwahati, is accountable for the highest number of elephant deaths – 15. Of these, four took place in 2019, six in 2020 and five in 2021.

On the other hand, the East Central zone, headquartered in Hajipur, has reported the highest deaths of wild animals in the three-year period. Of the 82 deaths, 19 were reported in 2019, while 25 in 2020.

At least 38 wild animal deaths were reported in 2021.

The Ministry said that a number of steps were taken to prevent animal deaths on the tracks.

In a report presented in December 2021, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said that between 2016 and 2019, train accidents were the second most common cause for unnatural deaths of elephants. It said that at least 61 elephants died after being hit by trains during the period.

According to the last count in 2017, there were 29,964 elephants in India. The total number of captive elephants owned by private individuals and religious institutions was 1,774.

In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, the Railway Ministry said that in cases of killing of elephants/wild animals on railway tracks, the Zonal Railways investigate the incidents and conduct inquiry wherever necessary.

Elephant deaths

“Based on the findings in investigation/enquiry, a number of preventive measures are taken by Zonal Railways in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Forest,” the Ministry said.

The steps include, imposition of speed restrictions in identified locations, provision of signage boards to warn loco pilots about identified elephant corridors, sensitisation of train crew and station masters on a regular basis, need-based clearance of vegetation on the sides of the track within railway land and construction of underpasses and ramps for movement of elephants at identified locations.

Elephant deaths

The Ministry also ensures a provision of fencing at isolated locations and installation of innovative honey bee sound systems at locations that are prone to crossing of elephants.

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In May this year, an adult elephant was killed after being rammed down by a train in Assam’s Bokajan. In February, at least three elephants were killed in Uttarakhand.

In November last year, three elephants, including a pregnant female elephant, died after being hit by a train while crossing the tracks near Navakkarai in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.

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Source: News18