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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Solar fences installed in Goalpara to ease coexistence with elephants


A 2-km solar-powered fence around Kashibari-Kochpara was installed by Aaranyak with the overwhelming support of the village community in lower Assam’s Goalpara district to facilitate the coexistence between humans and elephants.

The solar-powered electric fences have turned out to be an effective tool in keeping wild pachyderms at bay, thus addressing the problem of man-elephant conflict in some forest fringe areas. Steel wires are hung in a row from a three-metre-high horizontal overhead wire supported by posts on both ends. The wires are connected to a solar power system and elephants receive a mild shock if they try crossing through the hanging wires.

Such a fence has been installed on Kashibari-Kochpara and “it has helped overcome the problem of elephants destroying human settlements and paddy fields.

Approximately 200 people in the community, as well as families in four surrounding villages, will benefit directly from this fence by enhancing food security and reducing human-elephant conflicts. The installation of solar-powered fences was conducted with extensive support from local communities, Assam Forest Department, and funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

On Thursday, the Kashibari Kochpara solar-powered fence was formally inaugurated by Goalpara DFO Jitendra Kumar in presence of senior officials of the forest department. Kumar inaugurated the solar fence which has later been handed over to the Kashibari solar fencing committee for maintenance after signing an MoU with the Forest Department, Aaranyak, and the solar fencing committee.

Locals were urged for proper maintenance of the fence by DFO and range officers speaking to the gathering.

Aaranyak’s senior scientist, Dr Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar, who heads the Elephant Research & Conservation Division (ERCD) at Aaranyak, and Dr Alolika Sinha interacted with the villagers on the importance of the solar fence to coexist with elephants. Moreover, Aaranyak’s Anjan Baruah, an expert on solar-powered fences stressed the importance of fence maintenance and the role of the villagers.

A noted social worker from Lakhipur area, Sashi Bhusan Brahma, moderated the programme. Dr Namita Brahma of Tata Institute of Social Science, Guwahati, and Ashok Dey an executive member of Aaranyak was also present on the occasion.

The villagers expressed their gratitude and thanked Aaranyak and the forest department for installing the solar fence so that their crops, lives and property would be protected. The fences also ushered in a sense of social security.

Following the programme, Aaranyak’s officials, along with community people and senior forest officials, organised a plantation drive as a part of Lakhipur Forest Range’s Van Mahotsav celebration, in which saplings were planted in Kumarkhali Reserve Forest.

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