Dhenkanal: Dhenkanal which ranks second in elephant population after Satkosia sanctuary in the state is witnessing a rising number of elephant deaths due to train accidents and electrocution.
This has become a cause of concern for the forest department which is now planning to deploy drone cameras near railway tracks to track the movement of the pachyderms. It has also called for the construction of underpasses near tracks to reduce elephant casualties.
The district was in the news for the rising number of elephant deaths due to man-animal conflicts and other reasons.
Recently, a female elephant was killed when it was hit by a goods train while crossing the railway tracks between Pasasingh and Kaunriapala villages in Sadar forest range in Dhenkanal district June 20.
The forest department accepted blame for the animal’s death. The department said the animal was killed as it failed to send a caution notice in advance about the movement of pachyderms near the railway track to the division office of the East Coast Railways in Khurda.
The train driver was not informed about the movement of elephants near the railway tracks and failed to slow the train.
The female elephant was hit by the train and killed. An elephant had died in a similar incident in December 2018 at Gengutia.
The elephant casualties have made the forest department chalk out a plan to prevent such incidents.
The matter is of serious concern as around 70 elephants are always on the move from Gadashila to Meramundali in Sadar forest range. The railway line has turned into a deathtrap for the pachyderms due to the heavy movement of goods and passenger trains on the route.
The forest department is planning to send a proposal to the government requesting to deploy two drone cameras in the area to track the movement of the animals. As per the plan, one drone camera will be deployed at Gadashila while the other at Meramundali.
The forest department will track the elephant movements using the drone cameras and inform the railways. The forest department will also send a proposal to the railways to construct an underpass at some place between Gadashila and Meramundali to facilitate the safe movement of elephants. Before that a survey will be conducted in the area, forest officials said.
The honeybee buzz pilot project which is being implemented near Sadshivpur railway station has failed to ward off the pachyderms. The presence of a large number of elephants in the Sadar forest range has become a concern for the forest department, and it came out with the plan to check animal deaths and save people from being killed by the pachyderms.
Divisional forest officer Sudarshan Patra said the increasing man-animal conflicts in Sadar, Hindol, Mahabirod and Kamakhynagar (West) forest ranges is a challenge for the department.