After the trenches, the solar fences, the railway barricades, the barbed wire and the anti-bee fences… Now the steel wires to prevent the jumbos from wandering away from the forests

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bangalore: Whether it is elephant trenches, solar powered fences, railroad track barricades, chili-tobacco rope fences, barbed wire, bee fences, wild elephants have always thwarted all methods tried by the Forest Department to keep them inside reserve forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Elephants continued to stray into human habitats and over the years human-elephant conflicts have only increased, causing death and injury to humans and elephant populations.

Now the Department is considering installing steel wire fences on the boundaries of forests in Karnataka to prevent elephants and other wildlife from straying into farmland. Steel wire fences are a secure method adopted in Tamil Nadu to prevent elephants from entering villages.

“We have tried many ways to keep animals from straying into human habitats, from solar fences to railway fences, and even tried wired fences at forest boundaries. However, none of them proved to be very effective. Therefore, we decided to adopt the Tamil Nadu model of fencing, using strong cables, so that elephants and other animals do not enter the villages,” said a forest officer.

In Tamil Nadu, the wire fence has been installed in Jawalagiri Forests in Hosur Division where the Forest Department has erected a 2 km long steel wire fence to prevent wild elephants from encroaching on residential areas . The fence is set up in an area from where wild elephants enter the villagers every year to raid farmland.

Farmers in this area complain of wild elephants attacking 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 the forest areas surrounding the villages and did not return home until May.

It was the herd’s usual route. The Forest Department erected a steel wire fence at Mudumalai and its strength was tested using a kumki elephant. The results showed that the fence withstood the pressure and was not damaged. In addition, the thread has been tested and its size has been standardized.

The success achieved by Tamil Nadu foresters in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary will soon be replicated in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. In the Steel Wires, the elephants do not have a solid base (like the railway barricade) on which to stand or rest and later cross to the other side. The steel cords will bounce and confuse the animal.

The elephant will have no grip to climb the ropes.

The steel cables will be similar to those used to make bridges and will first be tried on a 5km stretch in the Veeranahosahalli range, where there is an ongoing problem of human-elephant conflict. Steel cables are also cheaper than rail barricades, department officials said.

“While one kilometer of railway barricade will cost Rs.1.2 crore to Rs. 1.3 crore, steel wires will only cost Rs. 50 lakh to 55 lakh per kilometer,” officials said.

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