RUDRAPUR: In an initiative to check elephant movement to railway tracks, the officials of the central division of the Terai forest range are working on a model of a biological elephant barricade made of thorny plant varieties and Bambusa Vulgaris (common bamboo).
Bio-fencing, a process of planting lines of trees or shrubs on farm or field boundaries to provide protection from wildlife, is a cost-effective strategy used for preventing elephant movement to railway tracks, according to the forest department. The decision has come after ten jumbos were killed in the Tanda jungle under the division in the past five years.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) of the Terai central forest division, Vaibhav Kumar Singh, said that the department is working on the bio-fencing model, which primarily makes use of the cactus variety Cylindropuntia ramosissima, commonly known as diamond cholla and branched pencil cholla, and will be completed with the onset of monsoon this year.
“This will be a 10km-long fence starting from the Tanda jungle and continuing till the Peepal Parao forest range on both sides of the railway tracks. We have also identified eight sensitive points where elephant herds frequently make movements. We are working in tandem with the Izzatnagar division of the northern railways and have asked the officials to construct mud ramps at these identified points, to ensure the smooth movement of wild animals here. It will be completed by the end of next month,” said Singh. Notably, the region has witnessed over a dozen train accidents involving the loss of wildlife, and jumbos were the worst-hit species in recent times.
Also, the railway tracks in Terai jungles are elevated making it difficult for elephants especially the calves to pass through them. The trains moving between Bareilly, Lalkuan, Ramnagar, and Kashipur cross through the Tanda jungles and there have been mishaps wherein elephants in search of food and water have been hit by trains.
Animals are scared of approaching these plants because of their long spines. A thorny variety from the Euphorbia family is also used for bio-fencing.
“This is a cost-effective model compared to an elephant-proof trench. Also, the trench model is not viable as elephants have made corridors in these jungles. The model has widely been used in southern parts of India and was found effective in keeping wild elephants away,” Singh added.

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