The NFR team successfully used the buzzing sound of honey bees to drive away elephant herds in different areas where there is prevalence of elephant movement along the railway tracks.
The NFR by using this technique has been able to reduce incidents of elephant dashing by trains to a substantial extent, said NFR chief public relation officer PJ Sharma on Tuesday.
“With a large portion of its tracks passing through vast areas of forest land which are home to various wild animals including elephants, the NFR has been facing serious problem of elephant dashing, posing a threat both to the trains and to the elephant population in the vicinity of tracks,” he said.
Sharma added that the Rangiya division field officers in consultation with forest department officials worked on the idea of using certain deterrents to repel elephants from the tracks.
He said that a team led by the then divisional railway manager (DRM) Ravilesh Kumar took the lead to form a team who carried out the first testing of honey bee buzz on a pet elephant at Rangapara.
“When the second testing was conducted in Phulbari Tea Estate under Rangiya division, it was found that the wild elephant starting moving away once the honey bee sound was generated,” Sharma added.
Following the successful trial, an equipment was designed to generate amplified sound of honey bee audible from a distance of about 700-800 metres.
The first instrument was installed at level crossing gate NN-274 between Azara and Kamakhya station under Rangiya division.
Finding the results very encouraging the instrument was installed in many level crossing gates in the zone located in the vicinity of forest areas.
Currently, 46 such equipment have been installed all over NFR.
“The gateman, posted in level crossing gate where the device has been installed, claims that its use is very helpful to divert herds of elephants, especially when trains are approaching and dashing become almost eminent,” he said.
Although there are as many as 29 earmarked corridors, where trains slow down and signs are fixed for drivers to observe the speed restrictions, elephants have ventured into the path of trains even in non corridor areas, often leading to elephant deaths.
From 2013 up to June 2019, a total of 67 elephants were knocked down by trains in incidents of elephant dashing.
While elephant population in Assam itself is about 5620, there are few thousands in Dooars area of North Bengal also.
It is to be mentioned that through this and a mix of other measures, NFR has been able to save as many as 1014 elephants since 2014 till June 2019.