The construction of the first rail fencing in the State, aimed at mitigating man-animal conflict, is under way at the Kurichiyad forest range under the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS).
The rail fence is being erected on a on a 10-km stretch on the forest border from Moodakkolly to Sathram Kunnu near Sulthan Bathery town by replicating the model set by Karnataka’s Nagarhole National Park.
“It will provide total protection from straying wild elephants, the major source of human-wildlife conflict in the area,” says P. Ratheesan, assistant wildlife warden, WWS.
₹15 crore from KIIFB
The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) had earmarked ₹15 crore for the project. The work was launched on the second week of March and nearly 1.5 km of stretch at Chappakkolly has been covered, Mr. Ratheesan said.
Rails would be more economical and environment-friendly than trenches, solar electric fences, and elephant-proof walls, he said. Trenches and fences require regular maintenance and trenches are ineffective near streams and on slops.
Walls are expensive, with works on a 1-km stretch estimated at ₹1.5 crore, he added.
With this, it is expected that man-animal conflicts would come down in human habitations such as Sathram Kunnu, Mullankunnu, Kattayad, Kaivata Moola, Chappakolly, Pazhupathur, Kakkadam Kunnu and Moodakkolly in Sulthan Bathery municipality and Poothadi grama panchayat, T.L. Sabu, chairman, Sulthan Bathery municipality says . The fencing will cover most areas in the Sultan Bathery municipal limits with high population densities, he said.
How the fence is built
The 3.5-metre broad gauge rail is being used as posts for the fence and on them are placed metre gauge rail as horizontal bars in three rows to keep the wildlife, especially marauding elephants, at bay, Mr. Ratheesan said.
The aim was to complete the works by June end, but intermittent showers in the forest area and low availability of rail delayed the works. Now, the deadline has been shifted to October end, he added.
Work on a 6-km rail fence in North Wayanad forest division, estimated at ₹9 crore, for which the government had given approval last year, is yet to take off.
At Nagarhole, rail fences have been erected on a 33-km stretch to protect the life and property of the local community.
The Karnataka Forest Department is replicating it in the forest areas of Bandipur, Madikeri, and Virajpet.