Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Guj forest deptt, WR to discuss lion accidents on rail tracks

Guj forest deptt, WR to discuss lion accidents on rail tracks
Business Standard

In view of the recent death of six Asiatic lions of Gujarat's Gir forest after being run over by trains, officials of state forest department and Western Railway will meet in Mumbai tomorrow to discuss the issue.

"The high-level meeting with General Manager of Western Railway in Mumbai follows after a series of local-level meetings on conservation of lions held in past couple of months failed to resolve issues raised by the forest department of Gujarat government," state Chief Conservator of forests R L Meena told PTI today.

The local level meetings were held in Bhavnagar soon after some Asiatic lions were run over by goods trains near Amreli in Gujarat since January this year, he said.

According to sources, the forest department wants railway authorities not to run goods trains on rail track in Amreli district in morning and evening as there is more movement of lions there during these periods.

The officials have also suggested railways to reduce the speed limit of goods trains on this route to 30-40km/hr, which at present is about 100 km/hr, sources said.

With lesser speed, a goods train driver can stop or reduce the speed on seeing lions or cubs crossing the railway tracks, it has been further suggested.

The forest department recently imparted training to 82 train drivers to sensitise them about lions, on why the big cats need to be protected and what can the drivers do to ensure the safety of animals if found on tracks, Meena said.

Apart from reducing the train speed, the forest department has also suggested barbed wire fencing in 30 kms area on the railway track which is frequented by lions and construction of under passage (a passage running under the railway tack) for enabling movement of lions and other wild animals, he said.

About 100-150 lions have permanently settled in the coastal areas around Rajula and Jafrabad towns of Amreli.

Gir wildlife sanctuary houses about 411 Asiatic lions and is the sole home for these big cats.

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