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Northeast Frontier Railway’s (NFR) sound tape of honeybees to avert elephant killing on railway tracks has created quite a buzz.

The sound of honeybees downloaded from the internet to bring down the number of accidents was put in place in 2017, across four of its divisions at select level crossings where elephant zones exist. They use an electronic buzzer to keep elephants away.

The idea which was implemented in the 2017 has reduced the number of elephant deaths. Only six elephants have died after colliding with a train.

In 2013, 19 elephants were killed, in 2014, 5 were killed, in 2015, 12 were killed, in 2016, 9 were killed, while in 2017, it was 10.

“We installed this in Rangiya division and once it was successful we have installed it in other locations as well. This was started barely six months back,” said Lokesh Narayan, Additional General Manager, NFR.

Although other techniques like the chili bomb and electric fences were used earlier, this buzzing sound has been the most cost-effective and efficient system.

The simple device amplifies the recorded sound of honeybees to drive animals away and costs around Rs. 2,000 to put together and is audible to an elephant 600 metres away.

NFR covers northern West Bengal and parts of eastern Bihar besides the northeast states.

NFR  has imposed 49 temporary speed restrictions of 20/25 kmph over a total of 109 km in different stretches to prevent accidents.

“We have also created this WhatsApp group with forest officials for real time information sharing. This alerts the loco pilot in real time basis when elephants are spotted,” said Narayan, reports Arunachal Times.

He also said that a proposal of fencing of 109 km in different stretches and under passes and over passes be built to facilitate movement of elephants and prevent them from coming towards the tracks.

This project will be funded by Ministry of Environment and implemented by the Railways.

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