| File picture of a solar-powered fencing. |
Kendrapara, Jan. 10: Waking up to the growing man-animal conflict, the forest department has decided to erect solar-powered fencing to stop animals like wild boars from straying into human settlements in and around Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary. This shock-inducing fencing has already been put to use in forest corridors and habitats for elephants. This is the first time that this sort of barrier would be used to stop boars from straying.
The mangrove forest cover within the sanctuary is home to thousands of wild boars — plant eating herbivorous animals. But in recent years, the sharp increase in the wild boar population has become a cause of worry for wildlife sanctuary officials.
With thickly populated villages dotting the periphery of forest, man-wild boar conflict has reached a flashpoint. In recent months, animals have often strayed into villages eating up crops and plants. What has compounded the woes of villagers is that boars often go berserk at the sight of humans. In self-defence, boars have even assaulted humans. Villagers killed at least three wild boars in retaliatory attacks.
“The forest department will soon install a solar-powered fencing along the five km-long forest zone spread across Talchua-Dangmal. As the forest bordering these zones has the maximum concentration of boars, the solar fencing will go a long way in creating a buffer and stopping the animals from entering human settlements,” said Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, divisional forest officer (DFO), Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division.
The solar fence has a pulsating flow of current, which will act as a deterrent for wild boars trying to breach the forest border. “Once the animals come in contact with the fence, it will give them a mild shock. The shock will imbibe a fear psychosis in animals to stop them crossing it. The pulsating solar current is harmless and will not harm them,” Mahapatra said.
The fence will also curtail the intrusion of spotted deer into crop fields. There are reports of deer causing damage to crop fields though it’s magnitude is on a smaller scale, a senior forest official said.
In a series of incidents in past months, more than a dozen people have faced the wrath of these animals. There are official reports of at least three wild boars being lynched.
Forest personnel say wild boars stray into human settlement areas as this is the crop cutting season. Boars love eating the ripe grain on the harvesting ground.
“Our lives and crops are in danger because of the boars. People were forced to kill the wild boars in self-defence,” a villager said.
“There is no compensation provision for injury due to boar attack and crop loss perpetrated by animals like boar under the law. Even so, the forest department has taken up the matter with higher authorities so that affected farmers may receive compensation,” said the DFO.