Topic in news because W.Bengal Government cameup with a “Tughlakhi” idea- sterilization to control elephant population, to reduce train accidents! Thankfully, Supreme Court has stopped them.
- Put danger signs near Elephant areas- so Locopilot proceeds carefully.
- Order locopilots to drive at 25 kmph speed through such areas. Install GPS and speed tracking instruments.
- Konkan Railway developed sensor to detect debris on tracks. Similar devices can be installed to track elephant presence on tracks.
- Iron fences at blind curves.
- Cutdown tall grass near tracks- to improve locopilot’s vision and judgment, especially during night.
- After climbing up, the elephant hesitates in climbing down the track, even if the train is approaching- due to the steep slope, it cannot make judgment. Therefore, tracks in such areas, should not have steep slopes.
- Almost all accidents occurred between 6PM to 6AM. Forest guards must petrol accordingly and alert locopilots, if elephant herds spotted near tracks. But this is only done at Buxa forest.
- Stop passengers from disposing food garbage from train windows in forest areas.
- Rail-road expansion is inevitable, but should be done scientifically to ensure minimum habitat fragmentation.
- In Assam and West Bengal, paddy fields near railway tracks attract the elephants for ‘raiding’ the crops and water. These elephants are “used” to human tactics such as crackers, drum beating, fire, lights etc. So, even with train sound, they behave carefree.
- Long term reform requires preventing agrarian encroachment in jungle areas, stopping habitat destruction, providing sufficient food and water in wildlife sanctuaries so elephants don’t venture out.
Q. Is “Dehorning” a viable solution to stop Rhino poaching? Justify your stand. [10 marks | 200 words]
Rhino-horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine and decorative trophies. This illegal trade is so lucrative, poachers have begun using AK-47. While Rhinos are indeed being killed for their horns, and theoretically, dehorning ought to save them. But dehorning is not the lasting solution, because:
- Rhinos need horns for foraging food, digging waterholes, breaking branches; females need them to protect their calves from predators, males need them to fight other males claiming territorial domination for mating. Therefore, Dehorning will increase their vulnerability from both humans and wild predators.
- If a dehorned Rhino is hiding in a thick bush, or roaming in dark night, the poacher may kill it anyways.
- Poachers often have to spend weeks to track a rhino’s footsteps before the actual hunt. So, African poachers deliberately kill de-horned rhinos, to avoid tracking these “useless” targets in future.
- Rhino Horn is not a “bone” but keratin- like human fingernails and hairs, and can grow back. In Africa, Poacher even hunt such de-horned rhinos to extract those few grams of partially re-grown horns.
Instead of separating Rhinos from their horns, they should be protected with firm hands.
- Use local people for Rhino protection and intel.inputs about poachers.
- Equip forest guards with GPS, sensors, night vision cameras and sophisticated weapons.
- Satellite tagging and drones for surveillance.
- Stricter punishments and speedy trials.
- As per IUCN: Indian rhinos = Vulnerable. (not critically endangered)
- Assam the first state of India to have shoot@sight orders against poachers.
- Some activists even demand that NH37 (now NH-715) should be closed for five hours every day- during peak animal movement. (Anti arguments: will hurt Hurt tourism industry and create hardship for people in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur)
- Rhino horn is not same “material” as Elephant tusk. Rhino horn is made of keratin, just like human hairs and nails.
- Namibia was the first country in world to initiate de-horning of Rhinos. Many other African nations followed the same suit.
- Rhinos have three toes in each foot. (hence they’re not same as pigs, camels etc-who have two toes).
- on that three toes logic, Rhinos closest relatives= zebra, horses and tapirs.
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