By Laura Sinpetru
Conservationists are doing their best to protest elephants against poachers, but there is no thing they cannot do: keep these animal from getting hit by trains in areas where railroads and their natural habitats overlap.
The good news is that, thanks to brainiacs at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi), the yearly numbers of clashes between trains and elephants could soon be greatly reduced.
Thus, researchers at IIT-Delhi have created a new type of heat-and-motion sensors which they say can keeps tabs on these animals' movements through their natural habitats and alert authorities whenever an elephant herd decides to cross a railway.
The sensors, which are also equipped with cameras, are designed in such ways that they can be fitted on train tracks. They communicate with one another, and, when one of them picks up signs of elephants moving across the railroad, it passes on the news to the other devices.
Eventually, the information reaches authorities and measures can be taken to ensure that moving trains do not collide with the animals, Times of India reports.
“More than 100 such devices, with heat and body sensors and cameras, can be installed on a 4 kilometer (2.5 miles) stretch of the tracks,” details Sandeep Tiwari with the Wildlife Trust of India.
“As soon as it detects the presence of an animal, it records the message and sends through the network of devices. The information is transferred to the officials at the nearest station or signal post in real time,” Sandeep Tiwari further explains.
The newly-developed heat-and-motion sensors will soon be tested on the tracks linking North Bengal's Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar. Since the beginning of this year, a total of 19 elephants in the area lost their lives after being hit by trains.
Both the IIT-Delhi researchers and conservationists hope that, once the sensors are installed, it will be easier to prevent such incidents from happening.