Elephant Proof Trenches made in more than 103 km boundary line

The second phase of planting exercise for creation of fodder nursery reserves in forest areas is nearing completion, said M. Senthilkumar, District Forest Officer.

State government announced a scheme to be implemented over a five-year period for creation of fodder reserves and creation of water sources for meeting the food and water requirements of the wild-animals in a bid to prevent their straying into human habitations resulting in human-animal conflict situations.

Coimbatore district witnessed frequent incidents of human-animal conflict resulting in loss of lives and damage to crops. This resulted in the Department establishing the first elephant camp (outside the sanctuary area) at Chadivayal near Siruvani.

It brought two kumki (trained) elephants Nanjan and Pari from Anamalai Tiger Reserve for ensuring instant and swift reaction in the event of conflict.

The Coimbatore Forest Division has 690 sq km forest area spread over six ranges. Of the 315km forest boundary, more than 250 are found to be conflict prone and 28 villages were identified as conflict hit. To prevent straying, Elephant Proof Trenches (EPTs) were created in more than 103km boundary line and the objective over the next two-years was to increase it to 250 and then to 315.

During the first year, the department carried out the identification of sites and removal of invasive species. Work for creation of fodder nurseries/reserves commenced in the second year.

The scheme envisaged creation of fodder reserves in habitations along the conflict pockets or exit points of the elephants and prevent them from coming out. The scheme had plans for creation of 15 hectare plot in each range into a fodder reserve by planting 3,000 saplings in each plot.

Chosen species

Species chosen for the fodder reserve were bamboo, ficus careya, jack fruit, teak, gmelina and pennisetum. Fodder reserves include grass varieties for the herbivores and trees such as jack and bamboo for the pachyderms, he said.

Fodder reserve plots were chosen along water sources and in places and the department had gone in for drip irrigation to ensure survival of these saplings.

In Periyanaickenpalayam range, the department had gone for diesel engine pump set to water the plants with Athikadavu — Pilloor backwaters as a source.

To prevent the wildlife damaging the crops until they are fully grown, the department has erected solar fence besides EPTs.

Planting done last year will be ready for the consumption of the wildlife by next year. Every year, the sites are being chosen next to the existing ones.

Canopy improvement

In addition, under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) the Department was embarking on a Rs. 7 crore project for canopy improvement and water source improvement in degraded forest areas.

Under this scheme, the Department was right now on the job of creating check dams, water shed areas and percolation ponds. All these measures are expected to yield results and reduce the conflict situation by 2014 end, Mr. Senthilkumar said.

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