GUWAHATI: Deployment of solar fences have become the go-to mechanism in Assam to mitigate human-elephant conflict and protect the livelihoods of local farmers.
Recently, a seasonal, single-wire, solar-powered fence was deployed to safeguard over 20 hectares of ready-to-be-harvested paddy fields in Maliata, near Mirza in Kamrup district.
The novel approach undertaken by Aaranyak, a biodiversity conservation organisation, in collaboration with WWF, is aimed at safeguarding farmers’ paddy while ensuring the well-being of wild elephants as well.
The solar-powered fences are designed as such that they can be removed once the paddy has been harvested, ensuring the unhindered movement of wild elephants throughout the year.
Dr Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar, Senior Scientist at Aaranyak, explained, “We have adopted this mechanism extensively in many areas in eastern Assam so far, aiming to strike a balance between crop protection and the conservation of wild elephants.”
The deployment of the fence stemmed from regular incidents of encroachment by a herd of ten elephants in the area, resulting in significant losses for farmers during the harvest season. The Forest Department has also reached out to Aaranyak and WWF for assistance.
The project that commenced on November 1, concluded on November 7 with experts from Aaranyak guiding local farmers during the installation process.
The 1km -long single-strand seasonal fence is expected to benefit around 300 households in the region. Local farmers, including Sukleswar Boro, Mridul Boro, Sarat Boro, Hareswar Boro, and others, lent their support during the installation.
The farmers have expressed their satisfaction with the results, as the solar fence effectively shields their paddy from elephant intrusion, allowing for a proper harvest.
The solar fence materials were sourced through the collaborative efforts of Aaranyak and WWF, with officials Anjan Baruah and Bijoy Kalita overseeing the installation work and receiving proactive assistance from local farmers.