Pulsating panels of LED lights are often found on party floors to set a dramatic mood, but the farmers at Allavayal in Noolpuzha grama panchayat have erected them in their paddy fields to keep wild animals, especially elephants and wild boars, at bay.
The experimental project was launched by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation here with financial assistance by NABARD and technical assistance by RuKart Technologies, a Mumbai-based firm, after it was found that the project was a success in Govindpur village in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra.
The farmers of Allavayal have cultivated paddy on 10 acres land under the Vadakkanad Padashekhara Samiti bordering the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
During the first phase of the project, 28 solar powered LED panels, each one consisting 48 LEDs, have been put up along 1 km on the fringes of the forest in an attempt to protect the paddy field from crop raiding animals.
The area is known for crop raids by wild animals, including herds of elephants, gaur, spotted deer, wild boar, and bonnet macaque as the land is encircled by forest.
“Usually, we make treetop huts and spend sleepless nights on them to guard our crop from wildlife. But after the installation of the pulsating LED unit called ‘pik-sanrakshak yantra’, raids by wild animals have declined considerably”, K.T. Kuriakose, president, Vadakkanad watershed project, said.
Though a herd of elephants crossed the forest boundary a few weeks ago, it returned to the forest after seeing the pulsating LED lights on the farm.
Ten days ago, 42 human-shaped dummies were also put up on the farm to impart the feel of human presence on the farm.
Three days ago, a herd of elephants passed through the forest fringes without trying to enter the farm, Mr. Kuriakose said.
“As the animals will become accustomed to the mechanism in a short while, we are planning to use acoustics by reproducing the sounds made by predators such as tigers and leopards in the third phase of the project to deter wildlife,” Mr. Kuriakose said. They have spent ₹1.17 lakh on the project so far.
The Forest department has sanctioned ₹5.8 crore to construct 11 km of steel wired fencing in Vadakkanad and Thottamoola areas to prevent the intrusion of wildlife and the construction work would commence soon, wildlife warden S. Narendra Babu told The Hindu . Proposals had also been submitted to mitigate man-animal conflicts in other parts of the sanctuary, Mr. Babu said.