Farmers in Erode district’s Talavadi call for better elephant-proof measures to help decrease negative human-animal interactions

Farmers have asked for more elephant trenches, proper maintenance of existing ones, better fences and a simplified process for crop damage claims

Updated - November 29, 2023 03:53 pm IST

Published - November 29, 2023 01:27 pm IST - ERODE

A poorly maintained elephant proof trench in Talamalai in Talavadi Hill in Erode district. Farmers have called for better maintenance of these trenches. File photograph

A poorly maintained elephant proof trench in Talamalai in Talavadi Hill in Erode district. Farmers have called for better maintenance of these trenches. File photograph

With animal-human conflict in fringe villages continue to claim lives, both of humans and elephants, in addition to extensive crop damage caused, the Talavadi Farmers Association has called for the proper setting up of, and maintenance of elephant-proof trenches (EPTs), streamlining of the compensation process for crop loss claims and scientific training for Anti-Depredation Squads (ADS) to effectively drive elephants away from farmlands.

The State government had constituted a Farmer-Wildlife Conflict Resolution Committee to suggest measures to ensure the sustainable co-existence of farmers and wildlife in wildlife-dominated landscapes and ensure the safety of both farmers and wildlife. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Chennai, is the chairman of the committee, which has representative s of six farmers associations as part of it. The committee is meant to submit its recommendations within three months to the State government. The Talavadi Vivasaigal Sangam is one of the members of the committee, and its president S. Kannaiyan took part in the first meeting held in Chennai recently and submitted a letter comprising various recommendations to reduce negative human-animal interactions.

Mr. Kannaiyan said human-elephant conflict was a major problem in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) and over 50% of negative interactions had taken place in the forest ranges of Talavadi and Jerahalli. The absence of EPTs and poor maintenance was a concern, he said, and wanted the Forest Department to maintain the trenches and also establish new ones across 3.5 km in the Jerahalli range.

The Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRT) in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka has installed fences using rail track material, he said, while stabilising steel rope fencing was installed in the Dharmapuri Forest Division, and both these measures have proved effective. “Adequate funds should be allotted for the formation of EPTs in the hill area,” he added.

Mr. Kanniyan also said adequate compensation should be given to mitigate the impact of human-animal conflicts and wanted the claim process to be simplified. He wanted compensation for loss of human life to be increased from ₹5 lakh to ₹ 25 lakh, up to ₹1 lakh for cattle loss and crop and property losses, as assessed by the departments concerned. He also wanted the carcass of cattle killed by tigers and leopards in forest areas to not be buried, and instead, left for carnivores. He also asked for the instaltion of battery-powered fencing to protect crops from wild boars.

Mr. Kannaiyan wanted ADS staff to be trained effectively to drive elephants away from farmlands and said National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) standard operating procedures (SoPs) must be followed by all the departments concerned.

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