Every year elephants and wild animals are fatally injured by trains that pass through forested areas. By the Ministry of Railways’ own admission in August this year, 45 elephants were killed in train accidents between 2019 to 2021.
However, some of these accidents can be prevented if the trains can be stopped in time before they hit elephants passing through railway tracks. Something similar was done by Loco Pilot L K Jha and Assistant Loco pilot Arindam Biswas when their alertness saved the lives of three elephants.
Appreciating their live-saving deed, Indian Forest Service officer Parveen Kaswan shared a short clip that showed a small herd of elephants passing by the railway tracks. In the video, it appears to be dark and the elephants were only visible due to the train’s headlights.
While sharing this video, Kaswan wrote, “Kudos to Loco Pilot Shri L K JHA and Assistant Loco pilot Shri ARINDAM BISWAS. Who used emergency brakes to save lives of three elephants on the track between APD Junction and Rajabhatkhawa station. At 05:30 AM on 2/12.”.
This video soon gathered thousands of likes. However, more importantly, people pointed out the need to have policy solutions to prevent such accidents. Echoing this view, a Twitter user wrote, “@AshwiniVaishnaw why can’t we elevate tracks on such crossings..this is their land first before we encroached upon it..it’s the least we can do so they can roam freely n transportation also happens unhindered…time for us to do this across all such crossings ”.
Out of the 88 identified elephant corridors in India, about 40 of them have national highways running across them and 21 of them have railway tracks, and 18 have both. Activists have long argued that cohesive implementation of solutions like better vigilance, lower speed of trains during wildlife-heavy regions, strategic fencing, and construction of wildlife corridors will prevent animal casualties.