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Indian rail officials turn to bees to save elephants

The buzzing irritates elephants, meaning they will move away each time the sound is played as trains are moving on the track

Gulf News

Patna: Railway authorities in India are playing the buzzing sound of bees along sections of the country’s tracks to save elephants from being killed by trains.

According to reports, more than 120 elephants were killed by trains between 2008 and 2017.

Authorities said the initiative has been launched in the Dooars region of Kishangnaj-Guwahati, which falls under the Northeast Frontier (NF) railways.

Under the project, the buzzing sound of bees is being played through speakers along the tracks at 27 points considered to be the most sensitive points.

The buzzing irritates elephants, meaning they will move away each time the sound is played as trains are moving on the track.

“We are trying hard to save the elephants from being knocked down on tracks in the elephant corridor and the initial experiment has yielded positive results so far,” the NF’s chief public relations officer Pranav Jyoti Verma told journalists.

Authorities took to this measure to protect the pachyderms after many of them came under the wheels of the speeding trains and were killed by crossing the railway tracks in the areas marked as “elephant corridor” in recent months, officials said.

The Dooars region of Kishanganj-Guwahati rail line is famous for elephants.

Reports said initially, rail officials made changes to train schedules, after studying the timings and routes of elephant migrations from one habitat to another.

They also blew horns repeatedly to alert the elephants crossing the track.

Subsequently, they limited the speed of the trains passing through the “elephant corridors” at night but failed to achieve the desired results.

Eventually, the railways adopted the buzzing sound idea.

Although the authorities used many elephant-repulsion techniques such as the chili bomb and electric fences in the past to drive them away from railway tracks, this buzzing sound has been the most effective and cost-efficient, officials say. It is a simple device that amplifies the recorded sound of honeybees downloaded from the internet.

The device costs around Rs2,000 (Dh108) to set up and is audible to an elephant 600 metres away. NFR covers northern West Bengal and parts of eastern Bihar besides the northeastern states.

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