Your Source for NPR News & Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

One of India’s most sacred animals is running into a very real problem: trains

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

India's biggest animals are running into a very real problem - trains.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Yeah, Indian elephants are classified as an endangered species. And their habitats are slowly shrinking as new railways get built across the country.

DANA WILSON: There are other animals getting killed, obviously. But elephants are a very visible symbol of what's going on.

MARTIN: That's Dana Wilson. He is the communications director at Wildlife SOS. That's an India-based elephant conservatory. More than 200 elephants were killed in train collisions over the last decade, according to government data.

MARTÍNEZ: Wilson says India's growing human population is a key problem.

WILSON: It's just an extremely densely packed country with wild animals moving in and out of urban spaces.

MARTIN: So how can humans and elephants better cohabitate? Indian railways are turning to artificial intelligence for help.

MARTÍNEZ: The southern state of Tamil Nadu has implemented an AI-enabled system that alerts train conductors when elephants and other animals wander near or on the tracks. It uses sensors and cameras.

WILSON: It's a really good way to make extremely rapid decisions that are analytical. And that's where these early warning systems, the potential for AI there is huge - where it could recognize sounds, sight throughout railroad tracks and warn train operators that there are elephants on the tracks.

MARTIN: It is only the latest such effort to protect wildlife in the country. In December, the Federal Railway Ministry argued it was deploying an AI-based surveillance system at elephant corridors in several states. Wilson says that in northeastern India, the systems can predict elephants with almost 100% accuracy.

MARTÍNEZ: The railway system hopes to increase its detecting capability to more than 5,000 kilometers - or more than 3,100 miles - over the next three years. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Hosts
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Related Stories