Solar fences, early warning systems and trip wire systems are some of the new initiatives that will be in place to reduce man-animal conflict in Valparai plateau.

In this highly conflict-prone zone, where herds of elephant and leopards often stray into human habitations, the Forest Department will provide 20 km of solar power fencing to residential colonies in Valparai and Manambolly ranges to the save lives and crop.

Elephant alert indicators will be installed in 20 colonies and 10 critical elephant crossing points. These early warning systems include flashing red lights to indicate the movement of elephants in and around the colonies and crossing points. Whenever there is movement of wild elephants, the system will send alerts through SMS to the local people, specifying the location. Trip wire alarms will also be in place in five residential colonies located close to the forest areas.

Another time-tested method to prevent wild elephant straying into habitations has also received attention. As part of setting up physical barriers, the department will dig elephant proof trenches for a distance of 35 km in the plateau — 10 km in Udumalpet range, five km in Amaravathi range and 20 km in Pollachi range.

The trenches will be created with a width of one metre at the bottom, 2.5 metre at the top and a height of two metres. About Rs.73 lakh will be spent on digging trenches and the maintenance of trenches dug earlier.

Using locally available manpower to track the movement of elephants, Conflict Response Units will be formed in Manambolly and Valparai ranges in which 15 elephant trackers will be engaged all round the year 24x7 in the core areas.

The monitoring of elephant movement is necessary to avoid damage to crops. The trackers will be provided with binoculars and cellular phones. The units will be provided with two vehicles and five two-wheelers. Apart from this a mini-lorry will also be used to transport rescued animals from human habitations and release them back in the wild, officials said.