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Cracker of an idea to ward off jumbos

- Twelve-year-old student wins award for innovative device

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 17: Forest officials racking their brains over the raging issue of man-elephant conflict in the state can turn to a 12-year-old for help.

Aditya Prasad Pati, a Class-VII student of Prabhujee English Medium School here, has come up with an innovative formula to keep the jumbos away from human settlements. Significantly, his project “Save life, land from elephants” was adjudged best in the agriculture category at the state-level science exhibition held last week.

“We can keep elephants at bay by planting smoke bombs, prepared from some basic chemicals and sugar, along the village periphery or around agricultural fields. These would be connected to pacemakers, which can identify a weight of 2,000 to 5,000kg. When the elephant steps on the device, the bombs will be activated and emit smoke that cause temporary nasal irritation,” said Aditya, adding that the pacemaker used in his innovation was not the medical implant that we know of. He said his pacemaker would help measure the weight of heavy objects.

He came up with the idea after coming across frequent news reports of human-elephant confrontations and the subsequent loss of life and property. He approached his schoolteachers Sushant Bhargav and Santosh Prusty seeking their supervision to use the chemicals and make smoke bombs.

His magic potion is a proportionate mixture of potassium nitrate, potassium permanganate, sugar and sulphuric acid.

In case the smoke bombs-cum-pacemaker system fails, Aditya has complemented it with a laser ray-and-buzzer mechanism. As the elephant passes through the laser connection, it would set off a light-and-buzzer system to alert the villagers. “The bombs can be activated by pulling an electro chain,” he added.

Aditya clarified that the smoke would not affect the elephants or agricultural productivity in any way. “The effect on the animals is only temporary. The gases would bring tears to their eyes and cause irritation in their nasal passage. Rest assured, they will leave the place. Further, the carbon dioxide released in the process would help in growth of plants in the vicinity. So, this is an eco-friendly project,” he explained.

The estimated cost of planting smoke bombs with pacemakers on one acre would come to around Rs 1,700.

“I really hope the government tries my experiment on a bigger scale to keep elephants far from human habitats,” said Aditya.