Sharmili Mallick

As many as 27 elephants lost their lives in train related mishaps between 2009-10 and 2020-21 in Odisha, a report published by the Project Elephant Division of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) last month said.

In order to help track the movement of elephants near railway tracks and minimise chances of accidents, the Odisha government is contemplating to adopt Gujarat model which will alert the train drivers about the presence of the big animals near the tracks and the concerned drivers can reduce the speed of the trains.

A meeting in this regard was also held between Gujarat-based Ear to The Wild Foundation, which promotes wildlife conservation through technology and the State Forest Department recently.

The Foundation gave a presentation on how acoustic sensors that can detect the movement of elephant or elephant herd on railway tracks and will send signal to the concerned train driver.

"Controls rooms have been set up in Khordha and Rourkela to sensitize train drivers regarding the movement of elephants near the railway tracks. Apart from this, we are finding technological solutions to address the issue," said Sashi Pal, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) of Odisha.

"The model presented by the Gujarat foundation is different from other models. Other models track elephants first and then sends message to the driver but the Gujarat model will track the train first when it will be around three-four kilometres away from the elephant corridor. The sensor will send signal to the siren installed in the area following which it will start blowing. The elephant will be diverted after hearing the sound and the railways officials will also be alerted about the heading train," added the PCCF.

On the other hand, a herd of around 40 elephants wreaked havoc in Telkoi forest range of the Keonjhar Wildlife Division damaging several houses and crops in the region.
As per reports, the elephant herd entered Galagadia village under Bimala forest and damaged the house of one Bishnu Mahakud. The animal also ate paddy stored in sacks in the house. 

On being asked, the ranger officer of Telkoi forest division said adequate number of forest officials could not be deployed due to the ongoing pandemic. However, steps are being taken to compensate the villagers.

"There are 40 elephants in three sections of the region. There are 32 elephant in Bimala range which entered the region from Khamar range on Friday. We are tracking them and trying to diverse them back to Khamar forest range," informed Pramod Kumar Sethu, Range officer of Telkoi forest division.

(Edited By Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty)