Human elephant conflict: After trenches and walls fail, 'disco lights' keep jumbos at bay
Bengaluru, Dec 10: At a time when hundreds of kilometres of solar fencing and trenches around the sanctuary area have failed to prevent elephants from raiding human habitations, unique methods like use of disco, LED lights with siren and bio-acoustics are being used by the forest department to keep elephants at bay.
Farmers and residents have been using a simple device with LED strip lights and AC/DC converter to scare away wild animals such as wild boar, bison, and elephant that attack during night.
LED lights are being utilised to prevent rampaging elephants from destroying farmers crops. The method which was used in Kapilash Range of Dhenkanal Forest Division in 2016 has shown promising results.
A total crop area of around 45 acres was covered in which lights were put up at intervals of 60 metres each on bamboo poles at a height of about 8 feet. The lights were placed at the eye level of elephants so that they can see them from a long distance.
Elephants did come to the field where paddy followed by cauliflowers, brinjals, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, and bananas were grown. The big mammals kept waiting at a distance from lights, but did not invade the crop field.
Similarly, lights were put up during the mango season from April to June 2016 at an orchard spread over 12 acres at Ganjara village near Hindol Forest Range and 20-acre orchard at Patusahi Kateni village in Dhenkanal district.
In line with Odisha, the Kerala forest department has deployed 360-degree rotating party lights in forest fringes to scare off wild elephants from human habitations, and they have clicked.
Lights had been successful in keeping successful in keeping stray jumbos at bay in the human-wildlife conflict.
Here are some of other tactics used to tackle elephants
Elephants don't like chillis. Capsaicin, the chemical in chillis that makes them hot, is an irritant, causing elephants to cough, sneeze and eventually turn away.
In 2017, University of Stirling, had carried out the first study assessing the effectiveness of burning exclusively chilli-briquettes - made from dung and chillies - in altering elephant behaviour.
The study found discovered that burning briquettes during the night triggered a change in elephant movement trajectories - turning them from predominantly nocturnal creatures to diurnal.
It is common practice to use loud noise to scare away intrusive elephants. Noisemakers include firecrackers, pipe cannons, vehicle horns, shouts, and rifle-shots. Elephants do grow used to such sounds, especially when the sounds are generated automatically. But loud noise is an effective short-term deterrent against naïve elephants, especially when combined with confrontation by a large group of guards.
In some areas people burn elephant dung or any other material that will smoulder and create heavy acrid smoke. (Sometimes even tires, but that's not encouraged.) Both the fire and the scent of smoke work as repellents, but wind and weather are a factor, and, as mentioned above, elephants are known to put out small fires.
The scare-away gun is nothing but a big look alike of an old artillery gun kept at forts along with a gas cylinder. In 45 seconds it will fire one shot making a deafening sound of enough decibel to scare away the elephants.