Now, a hanging fence to prevent human-elephant conflict

The hanging fence to deter elephants will be installed in Thorapalli in the coming days.

The hanging fence to deter elephants will be installed in Thorapalli in the coming days.

The Forests Department will now try out a solar-powered “hanging fence” to deter elephants from entering human habitations and raiding crops in a village on the fringes of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.

For long, the residents of Thorapalli have been complaining of elephants raiding their farms, and this has prompted the Forests Department to try out on a three-km stretch the new fence that was first designed in Sri Lanka.

The department staff said that over the last few months, three elephants – two tuskers aged between 15 and 18, and a single makhna (tuskless elephant), known to locals as “Bharathan,” and said to be aged between 35 and 40 frequently entered the human settlements and the farms surrounding Thorapalli.

Though the elephants have posed no threat to humans so far, with many of the local residents co-existing with the animals, the three elephants have started raiding crops in the area.

Residents apprehensive

Many residents fear that this could worsen into a human-elephant conflict.

The fear heightened a couple of weeks ago, when four persons, including three children, crossed paths with one of the three elephants.

They fell and sustained minor injuries while trying to flee the spot. A.K. Ulaganathan, Field Director of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu that the department would begin installing the fence in the coming days.

Till then, anti-depredation squad members posted in the area would chase the elephants away when they entered the human habitations after dusk. The fence is designed in such a way that stainless steel wires hang from a post or a similar structure.

Hanging 3 ft apart from each other, the wires sway gently in the wind and make it difficult for the elephants to get through without receiving a small shock, said N. Mohanraj, environmentalist and honorary wildlife warden, who is assisting the forest department in setting up the fence.

The need to redesign fences has come up as the elephants have found ingenious ways of getting through them in the Gudalur area, including slamming the fence with broken tree branches. Elephant trenches in the area are also to be strengthened, officials added.

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 4:18:37 am |