Dangers to Wildlife due to Railway Tracks

by Deepa Mohan

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Railway tracks contribute to the onslaught on wildlife in more ways than the most direct one, which is, of course, having animals killed and maimed by trains.

The laying of railway tracks is considered crucial to the economic development of a region, and has for the past several centuries been actively encouraged. Being human-centric, political thought has always considered the felling of forests, and clearing of lands to lay railway lines. Technology improvements that allow for ecological considerations are not implemented, and less-than-ideal practices are often followed to this day. In this regard, even the widening of the track gauges can have an adverse effect on ecology.

Railway tracks contribute to the onslaught on wildlife in more ways than the most direct one, which is, of course, having animals killed and maimed by trains. Every kind of animal — including elephant, tiger, lion — have been mowed down by trains on Indian tracks. Habitat loss and fragmentation, increased developmental, tourist and hunting pressures, and increased pollution (especially with plastic throwaways) are some of the other factors.

The need to improve our safety record in protecting our wildlife on, and around, the railway network needs to be improved. A relevant must read on the subject is the background paper on Linear Intrusions for the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).




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