A device that turns away wild elephants
Bolu Nayak doesn't have to buy food for his family anymore. Wild elephants have stopped destroying this poor farmer's land in Lungsung village
in Assam's Nagaon district. Crop in his 2.2 hectares are safe, thanks to conservationist Shimanta Kumar Goswami and the 'early warning
system' he developed. In 2006, he introduced the simple device on Bolu's farmland. The system not only alerts farmers of straying jumbos, but it
also drives them back into forest.
Goswami, director of a local conservation ngo, Green Guard Nature Organization, recalls the misery of the farmers in villages bordering Nagaon and Karbi Anglong districts. In 2005, wild elephants damaged over 300 houses in Lungsung, Nalbari, Jiajuri and Samgaon villages. They destroyed over 90 per cent of the crop, forcing several villagers to take up logging for a living which damaged the elephant habitats.The villagers often resorted to violent methods to drive the pachyderms away. The confrontations became bloody; elephants killed five people while the villagers hunted down three elephants. Desperate, several villagers even thought of giving up cultivation. "It was a very painful situation," says Rajeev Tanti of Jiajuri village. After the villagers started using the device, cases of man-elephant conflicts stopped. Casualties, human or elephantine, too came down.
The early waning system is a simple mechanism that uses strong, two-plus nylon ropes, a few poles and an alarm bell. The rope is tied to the poles, at a height of about 6 feet, and the poles are fixed to the ground at a gap of 200 meters. This network connects to an electric bell on a watchtower (machan).
When an elephant brushes against the nylon rope, hair on its head get caught between the plies of the rope and the resultant tension pulls the hair out. It is the same principle used by beauticians to thread out unwanted facial hair. Local wisdom as well as studies claim, the elephants, quite naturally, detest this and instantly pulls back. Simultaneously, when an elephant comes into contact with the tautened ropes, alarm bells are triggered, alerting people on the watchtower.
|Goswami No more torches and spears|
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