COIMBATORE: Following a joint inspection carried out by officials of the forest department here and the Palakkad railway division, it was decided on Monday to construct ramps as part of immediate measures to facilitate movement of wild elephants across railway tracks in the reserve forest areas of Solakkarai in Madukkarai forest range.
A team led by District Forest Officer A Periyasamy (incharge) and Forest Range Officer of Madukkarai M Senthil Kumar and Southern Railway Palakkad Division Assistant Divisional Engineer T Loganayaki conducted a joint inspection on a stretch of about two km, from level-crossing gate no 152 A to a nearby cement factory.
“We have identified spots for constructing four ramps to facilitate the free movement of wild elephants from one side to the other side of the railway track between Puthuppathi and Modamathi. A three-km stretch between Puthuppathi to Modamathi is a reserve forest. Currently, elephants face hurdles and spend more time on the railway track as its sides have steep inclines. We will also construct an underpass at a place where a 15-year-old female elephant was killed by the West Coast Express on Friday,” said a forest department official.
On a trial basis, a ramp of appropriate size with a length of 20 m and 10 m width would be built. An underpass about 9.5 m in width would be constructed for the herd to move freely.
The team also decided to clear the vegetation on both sides of the track to improve visibility of loco pilots, so that they can stop the train much earlier to prevent elephant deaths.
Loco-pilots to be sensitised on behaviour of the wild
The Coimbatore Forest department for the first time has decided to sensitise loco pilots and railway field staff about elephant behaviour.
“Though the pilots have a busy training schedule, a programme would be held for them on elephant behaviour. It is not only the forest department, but every one’s duty is to protect wildlife. We will lay stress and involve loco pilots in preventing elephant deaths in future,” said M Senthil Kumar, Forest Range Officer, Madukkarai forest.
As part of strengthening manpower to keep vigil in the area, a few anti-poaching watchers from every range in the Coimbatore region would be deployed at the reserve forest in Solakkarai beat every day.
Six anti-poaching watchers from Boluvampatti, Sirumugai, Karamadai, Periyanacikenpalayam and Mettupalayam will join duty with four other anti-poaching watchers in the Madukkarai range.