Kerosene lamps and crackers failing to keep animals away from your crops? Try cow dung cakes laced with red chillies instead, district forest officials have suggested.
In an unique attempt to curb man-animal conflicts, the forest department has decided to distribute cow dung cakes mixed with red chilli powder among villagers so that these can be burnt.
Forest officials hope that the new method would be “simple yet organic” and the chilli content in the cakes would act as catalysts in shooing away the marauding animals, especially herds of elephants.
Villagers living in the elephant corridors of Palamau and Dalma will mainly have to adopt this new technique.
“The logic is simple. When chillies and spices are burnt in the kitchen, it creates a strong burning sensation in our eyes and nose. Similarly, when cow dung cakes will be burnt, we hope the pungent smell will be strong enough to drive away the animals,” explained Premjit Anand, divisional forest officer at the Palamau Tiger Reserve.
He added that though not in Jharkhand, such practices were already in vogue in several states of the country and was very effective.
While cow dung will be easily available in all villages, the forest officials plan to start distributing red chilli powder from next week.
“These special cow dung cakes are supposed to be burnt around the fields and in open spaces in the villages,” a range officer of Dalma said.
According to available data, more than 250 cases of crop damage (big and small) were recorded in Jharkhand last year.
According to forest officials, elephant herds will begin migrating to their respective forests in little more than a week’s time.
The jumbos usually migrate from Palamau (Betla), to Latehar, Gumla, Chhattisgarh and its surrounding forest areas. Apart from this, the animals also move from Dalma to forests in Seraikela-Kharsawan and neighbouring Bengal.
“The elephants usually make their way to Dalma forest reserve during peak summer in search of food and water. The rainfall in eastern India has been good and the jumbos will now begin to head towards their territories. It is during this period that they tend to raid crops, fields, villages and houses in search of food or when they are lost,” the Dalma range officer said.
He added that like previous year crackers, kerosene oil and lamps would also be distributed among the villagers, but in smaller quantities as a backup option.