Coimbatore

Bio-fence to be developed to keep wild elephants at bay in Coimbatore

Cactus variety Cylindropuntia ramosissima, locally known as Suramul, is suitable for bio-fencing to prevent wild elephants according to Forest Department.

Cactus variety Cylindropuntia ramosissima, locally known as Suramul, is suitable for bio-fencing to prevent wild elephants according to Forest Department.  

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Will be made up of thorny catcus; Forest Department to standardise model by year-end

The Forest Department in Coimbatore is working on a model of biological elephant barricade, which is made of thorny plant varieties. Compared to other strategies used in preventing elephant movement into human habitations, bio-fencing is cost-effective, according to the Forest Department.

Additional Principal Conservator of Forests Debasis Jana, (Chief Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle) told here on Friday that the Coimbatore Forest Division was working on the bio-fencing model, which primarily makes use of cactus variety Cylindropuntia ramosissima, locally known as Suramul.

Animals are scared of approaching the plant because of its long spines. A thorny variety from the Euphorbia family is also used for the bio-fencing. “This is a cost-effective model compared to elephant-proof trench and electric fencing (DC current), the two models widely used. We are hoping to standardise the model by the end of this year so that it can be introduced on a large scale,” he said.

Coimbatore District Forest Officer D. Venkatesh said Suramul was grown along forest boundary near Anuvavi Subramaniaswamy Temple, and was found effective to keep wild elephants away. At Karamadai, some farmers were using a Euphorbia variety, as a fence to protect crops from animals.

According to Mr. Jana, around ₹ 5.5 lakh was required to make one km of elephant-proof trench. However, the trench was not viable on a rocky terrain. The trench also requires maintenance as soil and rocks accumulate at the bottom over a period.

“If we create trenches around a specific forest area and leave a small gap due to difficulty in digging the terrain, the trench does not serve its purpose. However, the bio-fencing can be introduced in such terrains as well. Other than against elephants, bio-fencing has also been found effective in keeping away other animals like wild boar that damage crops. Once the model gets standardised, the Department will create awareness among farmers to use it” he said.

Mr. Jana said that a fence with beehives was also an effective measure to prevent elephant movement as the animal was said to be scared of honeybees. However, beehive fencing was possible only along boundaries of forests where honey-loving bear population was nil.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 5:48:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/bio-fence-to-be-developed-to-keep-wild-elephants-at-bay/article30552536.ece

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