Tamil Nadu

Need to maintain elephant trenches stressed

Forest Department has made progress in digging trenches along borders of fringe village in Erode to prevent wild elephants from damaging agricultural fields. —Photo: M. Govarthan

Forest Department has made progress in digging trenches along borders of fringe village in Erode to prevent wild elephants from damaging agricultural fields. —Photo: M. Govarthan  

Trenches dug up by the Forest Department in Sathy, Kadambur, Hasanur and Bargur areas to prevent entry of wild elephants into agricultural fields in villages have reduced man-animal conflict, according to officials

Digging of trenches acts as a natural barrier unlike electric fences that have claimed lives of quite a few elephants.But then, the trenches need to be maintained all through the year by removing silt to serve the intended purpose, officials say.

During 2013-14, the Forest Department had dug up trenches to a total length of 80 km, sources said.

Of late, the trenches are being dug with three metres top width and two metres bottom width with two metres depth, according to K. Rajkumar, District Forest Officer, Sathyamangalam.

The top width has been increased by a metre to make the natural barrier more effective. The trenches dug in the past would appear to be of lesser top width. It is also not possible to maintain the accurate top in rocky parts of the forest peripheries and at places where there are streams, officials explained.

The silt has to be removed regularly by the farmers, particularly after water logging caused by rain. But, there have been instances of villagers choosing to close the trenches, leave alone maintaining them, risking crop damage.

The Forest Department has been encouraging farmers to dig up trenches on their own choice, rather than erecting electric fences. The electric fences are supposed to act as only psychological barriers to prevent wildlife from straying into human habitations.

The Forest Department is also required to augment fodder resources and provide waterholes for wild animals within the forests. The Department is also mandated with the task of timely payment of compensation to the victims for the loss of human life, livestock, damages to agricultural crops and property caused by wildlife.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:09:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/need-to-maintain-elephant-trenches-stressed/article7208157.ece

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