Plan Bee: How Indian Railways is saving elephants from train accidents

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Can bees save elephants from train accidents? As incredible as it may seem, they seem to be doing their job fairly well! In November 2017, the Indian Railways launched the initiative,  'Plan Bee' to prevent trains from hitting elephants crossing tracks. On Friday, the Indian Railways declared that its “Plan Bee” has been a great success as the number of casualties has gone down drastically. 

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Under the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR)'s Plan Bee, a device, which costs around Rs 2,000 was installed first at the level crossings near Guwahati railway station. The plan involves setting up of devices near tracks, which emit the ‘buzzing’ sound of swarming bees, considered as a natural nemesis of elephants, " Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted. The sound is audible to elephants 600 meters away and thus helps them in keeping away from the tracks,” Goyal said.

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According to wildlife experts, India has the highest number of train accidents involving elephants in the world. Deaths have increased sharply – between 1987 and 2010, a period of 23 years, 150 elephants died while crossing railway tracks, but the figure touched 120 between 2009 and 2017, just 8 years. 35 elephants were killed on railway tracks during 2014 to 2016 and five elephants were killed till July 2017, the Lok Sabha was informed last year. India has a deep connection with elephants. But, for years, the railways turned a blind eye to their suffering.

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In April this year, four elephants were hit by the Howrah-Mumbai Express at the double-crossing railway tracks near Telidihi village of Jharsugida district in Odisha, killing all four on the spot.

Reasons: Increasing human population, habitat destruction, increased frequency of fast trains, and neglect on part of authorities.


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India's deep connection with Elephants Asian elephant ranges across Southeast Asia, with India accounting for about 55 per cent of the total. The country’s wild elephant numbers jumped from 15,627 in 1980, with the official Elephant Census 2017 pegging the population at 27,312. India has deep connection with the elephant. In 2010, it was declared as the national heritage animal of India. A calf named Bholu is the mascot of Indian Railways. Elephants are also worshiped and used in religious rituals. Yet, for years, the Railways turned a blind eye to their suffering.

रेलवे ने हाथियों को ट्रेन हादसों से बचाने के लिए "Plan Bee" के तहत रेलवे-क्रासिंग पर ऐसे ध्वनि यंत्र लगाए हैं जिनसे निकलने वाली मधुमक्खियों की आवाज से हाथी रेल पटरियों से दूर रहते हैं और ट्रेन हादसों की चपेट में आने से बचते हैं।

— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) September 7, 2018

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