Japan train workers save turtles from grisly death

2015-12-01 10:04
Turtles. (AP)

Turtles. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tokyo - Railway workers in Japan have devised an ingenious scheme to prevent daredevil turtles from meeting a grisly end, and delaying trains while crossing train tracks.

The slow-moving reptiles in western Nara prefecture were responsible for 13 disruptions to train services between 2002 and 2014 after tumbling into the spaces between rail switches and getting squashed, according to West Japan Railways officials.

So the rail company teamed up with the Suma Aqualife aquarium in Kobe to find a novel solution: installing shallow trenches under the tracks that allow the plodding creatures to cross without getting crushed to death.

"The turtles are basically just going about their daily business and have to cross the lines to get to a pond," a spokesman told AFP on Tuesday. "When the point blades move, unfortunately they get squashed between them and die.

"There are a lot of turtles in the area and they are simply moving from A to B," he added. "But they can cause long delays to operations so we consulted with a turtle specialist to find the best way to help them."

Since the ditches, dug close to the deadly points were completed last month, a total of 10 turtles have been spared a gruesome end, said officials.

Workers now check the trenches regularly for errant reptiles and any found are removed and sent on their merry way, the spokesperson added.

While the Nara turtles may lack ambition beyond a quick dip in the pond, other testudines have advanced to positions of symbolic authority in Japan.

A hefty African tortoise called Kotaro, weighing some 40kg, was given the role of station-master of Ibusuki station in the far south, complete with a tiny station-master's hat.

Dogs, cats, rabbits, goats and even penguins have also been promoted to station-master, a largely ambassadorial role in highly automated Japan.

Read more on:    japan  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.