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Trains in India ordered to reduce speed after killing six lions in one week

Published: June 20, 2014

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Six lions, including this cub, have been killed in a week by trains running on tracks leading to the Pipavav port in Gujarat, a state in north-western India. CEN News.

CEN NEWS

Trains in India have been ordered to slow down to save the lives of rare Asiatic lions in a national park.

Six of the magnificent creatures have been killed in a week by trains running on tracks leading to the Pipavav port in Gujarat, a state in north-western India.

Last week, the Western Railway authorities held a hurriedly-called meeting after the lions were mowed down and, besides a reduction in speed, railway authorities have accepted the suggestion of not running goods trains during early morning and late evening hours.

The forestry department will bear the costs of erecting a 30 km-long barbed wire fence on railway tracks where frequent lion movements have been observed.

“The railway has also shown preparedness to construct an under passage to allow free movement of wild animals including lions,” Chief Forestry Officer Rishabh Meena added.

But retired forest official Aditya Sharma warned it was not a solution that would work: “All these measures should be appreciated but it is largely a patchwork approach, given the complex nature of the issue. We need a larger and holistic policy view for a real solution.”

Sharma added that the lion population has increased, leading to their territories expanding to 20,000 square kilometres during the last five years from 10,000 square kilometres.

He said: “The lions are straying out because the Gir Protected Area where they live is too small to accommodate all of them. Five state highways and a railway line traverse through the forest, besides hundreds of thousand of tourists visiting every year.

“Widespread mining also takes place not far from the sanctuary, and there is a cement factory just about 15 kilometres away from the forest area.”

“All these activities adversely affect forest resources and use water, which is key to survival for the lions. The carnivore has to stray out to look for water and prey since waterholes within the sanctuary are drying up.”

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