Bio-fencing to keep jumbos away from tracks in Terai (Rudrapur)
Aakash Ahuja, Times of India
January 22, 2023
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
"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.