The government is planning to grow specific plants in the areas where wild animals enter residential areas near forests to keep them away.
Now, gear up for a unique yet effective method to tackle human-animal conflict in Uttarakhand! The Uttarakhand government is planning to carry out very unique and yet effective fencing in the area which possesses threat from wild animals. So, what exactly do we mean when we talk about bio-fencing? Simply put, bio fencing is a unique and cost-effective method to keep wild animals away from residential areas. The government has been spending a lot to prevent wild animals from entering into residential areas. Also, a number of complaints are received by the authorities mentioning the harm caused to the crop and livestock by wild animals in the areas adjoining to forests. The Uttarakhand government has planned to carry out Bio-fencing in these areas by growing various species of plants to keep wild animals away.
In a media report, the concerned official told IE that plants like lemongrass, agave, rambans, and certain species of chilly including some other plant rare species have been identified as effective to keep wild animals away. The government is planning to grow these plants in the areas where wild animals enter residential areas near forests. Wild animals like leopards and bears, along with elephants and wild boars are a major threat to human life, livestock and crops in such areas the forest officials informed.
The Forest Department of Uttarakhand had been using traditional fencing methods for a long time. Until now, methods like solar-powered wire fencings, walls and pits were being used on the edge of the forests to prevent the entry of animals like elephants, wild boars, tigers, leopards and others in residential areas. According to the officials, bio-fencing will not only be an environment-friendly way but will also be economical in comparison to the other fencing methods.
While talking about the bio-fencing method the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Uttarakhand, Jai Raj told IE that bio-fencing in elephant prone areas with plants like lemongrass will be done to prevent the entry of elephants. Note that elephants do not like the smell of lemongrass. Similarly, ‘agave’ will also be grown to keep the elephants and wild boars away. This method is bio-friendly and causes no exploitation of resources and will also help economically empower farmers. The concerned authorities have issued directives to explore bio-fencing in the state.
Sources suggested that in the first phase of bio-fencing forest areas of Haridwar will be covered as in these areas elephants and wild boars cause maximum damage to human life, livestock and crops.
Akash Kumar Verma, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in Haridwar explained that the selection of plant species for bio-fencing have been done of a site-specific and according to the presence of wild animals in the area. For example, Haridwar faces the maximum threat from elephants and lemongrass deters elephants. Hence Lemongrass is more apt for Haridwar. Similarly, selective plants will be grown at specific sites.
Bio-fences of rambans plant could be effective in keeping animals like wild boars, blue bulls, Chital and Sambar aways. These animals are a huge threat for farmers as they cause maximum damage to the crops, the DFO said. He further added that rambans and Kanta-bans plants both can keep most wild animals away by acting as a physical barrier. Following the plantation phase, the government is planning to string beehives in the next phase to deter elephants.
The Dean, Faculty of Wildlife Sciences and the in-charge Director of Wildlife Institute of India (WII)at Dehradun, G S Rawat said, “The bio-fencing method has been tried by people in the past too. The Agave plantation is an effective example for deterring herbivores. Lemongrass could be good too. But, in order to make it effective, more work needs to be done. It is good that the Uttarakhand Forest Department is thinking on these lines. Let them experiment.”
According to the forest officials, the incidents of man-animal conflict occur quite frequently in forest areas. Such incidents occur almost daily and many of these cases go unreported.
The Forest Department’s data indicates that as many as 342 people were killed and as many as 1,857 persons were injured in man-animal conflicts over the past six fiscals across the state. Wild animals also destroyed 31,919 livestock and damaged 2,065-hectare crop during the same period. In the current financial year (FY20) as many as 16 people have already been killed in conflict with wild animals till July.