Population estimation and demography of the Rajaji National Park elephants, North-West India

The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) population in Rajaji National Park, north-west India is an important part of India's heritage, but has not been intensively studied until recently. Understanding the population dynamics is important for managers if the population is to remain viable. The researchers used marked adult male Asian Elephants in a mark re-sight method to estimate the male segment of the population and the estimated number of female and associated young using their proportions relative to the adult male segment from classification data. One calf was killed when hit by a train. The high proportion of males, low inter-calving period, and high neonate survival of the Rajaji elephant population indicates that the population is demographically healthy. However, more adult elephants died in train accidents than due to natural causes and viability of this small population could be seriously threatened if losses to train accidents continue.