India’s Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve got itself some new battery energizers for its solar fencing, which is part of a new project that’s being implemented, and it’s brining some hope for the farmers in the area, who are looking for ways to save their crops from the wildlife without killing the latter.
TATR is a breeding ground for the local wildlife, and the old electric fences put up by farmers in the area have, repeatedly, been a death sentence for the animals in the region, particularly the tigers that prey on the herbivores that move across the farmlands. From 2016 to 2017, the Nagpur and Chandrapur districts alone saw six tigers dead from electrocution, though there’s no record as to how many herbivores died to electrocution.
On top of all of that, was the damage being to crops in the area. In response, the solar fencing project was started, with a pilot in 2013 involving 9 farmers near Taboda. TATR Deputy Conservator of Forest (Buffer) GP Narwane says that the pilot was a success, and following that, the project went into full swing, with the number of beneficiaries hitting 2,065 come 2018.
Solar fencing units need batteries, panels, battery energizers, as well as wires, with a single unit costing about Rs12,000-13,000. The Tadoba Tiger Conservation Foundation (TCF), with some assistance from Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, supply Rs10,000 to beneficiaries. A total of Rs1.50 crore (~214,000 USD) has been given since the start of the program, with an additional 563 farmers enrolling since the start of 2018.
Farmers that have enrolled in the program have reported heavily reduced crop damages, increasing agricultural yields as well as reducing the need for what the locals call ‘jagli’, night patrols around the farms to ensure that the wild boars in the area don’t damage the fields.
President BanduDhotre, Eco-Pro Chandrapur, says that a major advantage to the program is that the solar fencing gets installed between October and January, which is peak period for harvesting crops. The old fences, he adds, are reused, and the solar fencing don’t block animals or humans, nor are they lethal to animals, as the DC current running through them only gives a nanosecond of a jolt to scare them off.