February 16, 2021 6:34:24 pm
An Asiatic lion was injured after being hit by a goods train at Uchaiya village of Rajula taluka in Amreli district under Shetrunji wildlife division in Greater Gir area on Tuesday.
This is the first major accident involving Asiatic lions on the busy railway line in around four years after the section was fenced on either sides.
“The animal sustained injuries on its legs after being hit by a train at around 6.40 am near Uchaiya village,” Dushyant Vasavada, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle, told The Indian Express. Shetrunji wildlife division is part of Junagadh wildlife circle.
“The lion was first taken to Babarkot wildlife rescue centre where it was given primary treatment. We are shifting it to Sakkarbagu Zoo for further treatment,” Nish Raj, deputy conservator of forests (DCF) of Shetrunji wildlife division, said.
The DCF said that the lion, aged five to nine years, which sustained injuries in its legs was able to move.
Earlier, a fatal accident on this railway line was reported in March 2017 when a male Asiatic lion was killed after being hit by a loco engine at Badhda village of neighbouring Savarkundla taluka.
The railway line connects Pipavav port, one of the biggest ports on Gujarat, to rest of the country, and of late has been seeing movement of around 20 trains up and down every day, officers of Bhavnagar division of Western Railways (WR) said.
Around 10-kilometre stretch of this railway line was fenced on either sides four years ago after a few Asiatic lions were run over by speeding trains. The forest department had also deployed lion trackers on the railway line to keep track of movement of lions and other wild animals around the track.
The Gujarat forest department and the railways had also agreed on a joint procedure order (JPO) by which trackers can inform master of nearest railway station about movement of lions and the master, in turn, would ask pilot of a train to slower the speed of his train to prevent accident.
However, Prateek Goswami, divisional railway manager (DRM) of Bhavnagar division of WR said there was no communication from the forest department about movement of lions on the railway line Tuesday morning.
“There is fence and this section has standard speed restriction order limiting the speed to 45 kilometres per hour (kmph) from 7 pm to 7 am. Due to fence, normally lions don’t come to this part of the line but today, one lion came out of bushes all of a sudden… The train was going at a speed of 30 kmph to 45 kmph and the pilot immediately stopped the train,” Goswami told The Indian Express.
The DRM said that the section where the accident took place is “prone” to wild animals getting on to the tracks and speed restrictions are permanent. “In case lion movement is reported, the speed is further reduced,” said Mashooque Ahmad, senior divisional commercial manager of Bhavnagar division of WR.
“There is a permanent order of caution in the section that restricts the maximum speed of a train to 45 kilometres per hour (kmph) and pilots go even slower in case they receive a caution order from either Rajula or Pipavav station masters about movement of lion. But in this case, for want of prior information, the train engine hit the lion,” Ahmad said.
The DCM added that the train, which was bound for Pipavav port, was detained at the place for two hours and two minutes.
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