WILDLIFE: Jumbo warning with bells – EWS the natural way to avoid jumbo disasters ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Nov. 2: A wildlife enthusiast has been working on an early warning system (EWS) to check man-elephant conflict in a Terai village.
Nidhi Singh identified Toribari village, part of an elephant corridor 8km from here, for the project that she has been working since September. She had helped wildlife filmmakers, the Bedi Brothers of Delhi while they were making Cherub of the Mist, one of the first documentaries on red pandas of Darjeeling. The film was released in 2006.
“After settling down in Siliguri, I started visiting the areas where man-elephant conflict was rampant. Last year, I submitted preliminary reports for the EWS project to the Wildlife Trust of India, a Delhi-based non-profit organisation that works for wildlife conservation in the country. The project was sanctioned for three years and I have been working on it since September-end,” Nidhi said.
According to Nidhi, the mechanism used for EWS is cheap and simple involving fish-net strings, trigger-switches, posts and bells. “I have surrounded 5km of the village with strings and installed bells and trigger-switches with the help of posts. When elephants, lured by the smell of paddy, raid the village and touch the string, the alarm bell on a watchtower goes off and alerts the villagers who then can drive away the herd.
The second phase of the project involves growing hedges of chilli and lime bush around the village.
“I am planting Naga chilli plants along the periphery of the village, whose pungent smell disperses the scent of the paddy. Mixing the chilli with dry cow-dung or rice husk and burning it during the animals’ raid can drive away the herd as smoke and pungent smell repel them. These simple techniques will be taught to the villagers,” Nidhi said.
The environmentalist has also asked the people to grow lime as hedges on the boundary of their paddy fields. “The thorns in the hedges can act as deterrents to the elephants,” Nidhi said.
Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer of wildlife I under which the village falls, said his department was assisting Nidhi in the project. “Such EWS techniques help villagers to be alert to tackle elephant raids.”