Another solar fence installed in Assam to combat human-elephant conflict
Guwahati/IBNS: Taking a step further in wildlife preservation in Assam, biodiversity conservation organisation Aaranyak has installed a 4 km stretch of community-operated solar fence to mitigate human-elephant conflict (HEC) at Bordol village in Goalpara district with support from US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Aaranyak has so far installed about 96 km of such community-operated stretches of solar-powered fences at 16 HEC hotspots across Assam.
The area is an HEC hotspot where wild elephants frequently invade croplands that provide a livelihood to the area’s agriculture-dependent community.
Such swoops by elephants often provoke the community, leading to severe human-elephant conflicts that harm the lives and property of the locals as well as the elephants.
The community-operated solar fence was inaugurated on Thursday by the Goalpara Additional Deputy Commissioner Ranjit Konwar.
“Assam's human-elephant conflict zones, where solar fences have been installed, are great examples of human-elephant coexistence,” said Konwar.
Senior scientist at Aaranyak Dr Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar emphasised the need to restore elephant habitats in addition to measures like solar fencing.
However, the solar fence needs to be properly maintained to ensure its longevity.
This fence has a simple operation mechanism it is powered as soon as dusk falls.
As soon as the wild elephants come in contact with the powered fence while trying to enter the village, they are repelled by the high-voltage but micro-seconds pulses of electric shocks, Dr Lashkar explained.
As a result, the human lives, property, and crops of villagers remain protected, he added.
Range Officer Dhruba Dutta said, “For elephants and human beings to live in harmony, we need to focus on forest regeneration and fodder plants.”
Anjan Baruah, a senior official of Aaranyak, noted that villagers from the HEC hotspot at Bordol can sleep peacefully at night. The peaceful ambiance will reduce villagers’ hostility towards wild elephants and facilitate human-elephant coexistence.
The Asian elephant is an endangered species and now living under severe stress due to anthropogenic pressures.
Assam forests are quality habitats for Asian elephants. According to the census of 2017 census, Assam has 5719 wild elephants, the second highest population in India after Karnataka.