Bengaluru: Be it elephant trenches, solar-powered fences, Railway track barricades, chilli-tobacco rope fences, barbed wires, honeybee fences, wild elephants have always outsmarted all methods tried by the Forest Department to keep them inside reserve forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Elephants have continued to stray into human habitats and over the years, human-elephant conflict has only increased causing deaths and injuries in both humans and elephant populations.
Now the Department is mulling the installation of steel wire fences on forest boundaries in Karnataka to prevent elephants and other wild animals from straying into farmlands. Steel wire fencing is a safe method adopted in Tamil Nadu to prevent elephants from entering villages.
“We have tried many ways to prevent animals from straying into human habitats, from solar fencing to rail fences, and even tried wired fencing on forest boundaries. However, none of them were found to be very effective. Hence, we have decided to adopt the Tamil Nadu model of fencing, by using strong cables, so that elephants and other animals do not enter villages,” a forest officer said.
In Tamil Nadu, the wire fencing has been installed at Jawalagiri forests in Hosur division where the Forest Department erected a 2-km-long steel wire fence to prevent wild elephants from encroaching into residential areas. The fence is set up in a region from where wild elephants enter villagers to raid farmlands every year.
Farmers from this area have been complaining about wild elephants raiding their crops for at least six months every year. Herds of elephants from Bannerghatta National Park and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka used to come to the Tamil Nadu side in October. They used to camp in forest areas surrounding the villages and return to their home only in May.
This was the regular route of the herd. The Forest Department erected a steel wire fence in Mudumalai and its strength was tested using a kumki elephant. The results showed that the fence withstood the pressure and it was not damaged. Also, the wire was tested and its size was standardised.
The success achieved by Tamil Nadu foresters in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary will be replicated in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve soon. In steel wires, elephants do not get a sturdy base (like the rail barricade) to stand or rest on and later cross over to the other side. The steel ropes will bounce back and this will confuse the animal.
The elephant will not get any grip to climb over the ropes.
The steel ropes will be similar to the ones used to make bridges and will be first tried on a 5-km stretch in Veeranahosahalli Range, where there is a perennial problem of human-elephant conflict. The steel ropes are also cheaper than rail barricades, said Department officials.
“While one kilometre of Railway barricade will cost Rs.1.2 crore to Rs. 1.3 crore, the steel wires will cost just Rs. 50 lakh to 55 lakh per kilometre,” officials said