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Deadly Tracks
Published by Ujjal Kumar Sarma, PS Easa and Vivek Menon, 01 Oct 2006
An Occasional Report of the Conflict Mitigation Division of the Wild Species Programme of the Wildlife Trust of India in partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare
One of the best conservation stories that the Wildlife Trust of India has in
its ten years of existence is that of stopping elephant mortality for seven
years on the tracks of the Delhi-Dehradun railways. Passing through the
Rajaji National park, this elephant track had turned into a veritable
graveyard for elephants till one dedicated field officer from our NGO
worked with both the Forest department and the Railways and produced
a zero-mortality record, seven years running. However, Rajaji was not the
only place in India where elephants died on the tracks. Assam, Tamil
Nadu, West Bengal and Jharkhand have had their share of dead
elephants on railway tracks while Gujarat has had lions dying on theirs
and Uttar Pradesh, tigers. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that animaltrain
conflict is spread across the country and needs a national
application of such conservation measures that have had success in
Rajaji.

To see if similar tactics will work in any other region, requires on-site field
work. It is such field work that has resulted in this occasional report.
Assam had just seen a spurt in elephant deaths and a quick study by the
conflict mitigation division has thrown up several predictable facts but a
few that are locale specific. Now, based on this more detailed work can
be done to suggest ameliorative measures and if dedicated field
personnel can then translate these studies into reality, the replicability of
the Rajaji story can be tested and elephants may prove to be the ultimate
winner.
Vivek Menon
Executive Director
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