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Railways to introduce sensor technology to check elephant deaths on tracks

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New Delhi, Dec 13: In order to reduce the increasing incidents of elephant deaths on railway tracks, Indian Railway has implemented an innovative method. The ministry is now looking forward to introducing a sensor built by a professor at IIT-Delhi to prevent elephant deaths on railway tracks.

Representational IMage

Subrat Kar, a professor at IIT-Delhi, was working on a device to curb elephant deaths due to train accidents since 2008. In 2014, his research gained momentum when the Indian Railways extended financial support and provided him with a grant of Rs 30 lakhs.

The researcher has created a new type of heat-and-motion sensors which they say can keeps tabs on these animals' movements through their natural habitats and alert authorities whenever an elephant herd decides to cross a railway.

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The sensors, which are also equipped with cameras, are designed in such ways that they can be fitted on train tracks. They communicate with one another, and, when one of them picks up signs of elephants moving across the railroad, it passes on the news to the other devices.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Professor Kar said, "When fitted to railway tracks, the sensors would track visuals, movement, sound, lights and other parameters before corroborating the inputs and feeding them into an automated algorithm. The algorithm would then decide if an elephant or a herd was near the tracks. A message would be sent to the nearest station master and the driver of trains about to pass through the area."

Elephants have been meeting an untimely death on railway tracks for quite a while now. Between 2014 and 2016, as many as 35 elephants were killed on railway tracks after the elephants collided with speeding trains at railway crossings.

Most of the elephants were hit by trains in the Northeast Frontier Railways' jurisdiction - 31, followed by 10 in South Eastern Railway and five in the Northern Railway.

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This year so far, 30 elephants have been registered to have succumbed to such collisions. The most recent incident took place in Keonjhar, Odisha where an elephant was killed after being hit by a goods train.

To prevent elephant deaths on tracks, Indian Railways recently started using loudspeakers to play the sound of bees to drive elephants away from railway tracks between Haridwar and Dehradun.

Plan Bee, involved a device (priced at Rs 2,000) that makes a buzzing sound like honey bees to a range of 600m. The device worked as elephants - afraid of being stung by honeybees - avoided coming near railway tracks.

According to wildlife experts, India has the highest number of train accidents involving elephants in the world.

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