Solar Fences Support Human-Elephant Conflict Reduction at Indo Bhutan Border

Solar Fences Support Human-Elephant Conflict Reduction at Indo Bhutan Border

Solar fencing is emerging as the best solution to avoid man- animal conflict in many areas. The India -Bhutan border, where two years ago, a solar fence was installed in key areas, is seeing the  benefits of the technology.  An 18 km long portion of the 699 km border hared between the two countries was tested with a solar fence. This has helped protect 10,000 people residing in 11 villages in Assam’s Baksa district by keeping away wild elephants entering from the Himalayan kingdom.

Erected on the Indian side of  the River Bornadi that marks  the international border, it has helped cut down incidents of wild elephants  straying into villages and a reduction in damage caused by these unwelcome visits.The solar fence was erected by bio-diversity organisation ‘Aranyak’ with funding from the Elephant Foundation of India in February 2021. The forest department also helped on facilitating the entire process and villagers are also stakeholders in the project.

The villages protected by the solar fence include Dongargaon, Pub Guabari, Hastinapur, Mahendranagar, Bogorikhuti no.1, Orongajuli, Dongargaon, Jaipur, Piplani, Bimalanagar and Bogorikhuti no. 2. Further,five fence maintenance committees were formed in these villages and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the stakeholders following which its maintenance was handed over to the villagers.

The solar fences, that use solar energy to keep a current running through, have helped by making the idea workable in an area where power access and supply was both patchy. By allowing the fences to power lights too, they have also helped sight the pachyderms well before they would be picked up in the night by villagers in the area.

Assam’s forests are among the prime habitats of the Asian elephant, an endangered species now living in severe stress due to anthropogenic pressures.

A similar initiative in Odisha has also helped mitigate the damage to both humans and wildlife earlier.

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