Farmers fire fence to ward off elephants

Farmers fire fence to ward off elephants

29 January 2016

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India — First there were stuffed tiger toys to scare off the elephants; then came an organic ‘elephant repellent’; and now there is a blazing “fence of fire”.

Call it enterprise, or desperation – but for farmers cultivating crops bordering reserve forests, any method that holds out a promise to protect crops from the onslaught of migrating elephants is worth a try. Here in the villages surrounding Sanamavu reserve forest, farmers are setting up a “blazing fence” to ward off the elephants after the dark.

Farmers in Birijepalli, D.Kothur, Aliyaalam and the outlying villages have set up 3-feet-wide bunds, padded with plastics, and rubber. This boundary of plastics and rubber is then set on fire.

People collect polythenes, plastics and tyres and pile them up . “Tyres and tubes are cut and lit up. The fire lasts for a few hours,” says a local source. Thereafter, the trail of smouldering embers would continue to keep the elephants away, believe farmers.

The past few days had witnessed significant crop depredation on the Eastern side of Sanamavu reserve forest. The farmers of villages close to the Reserve Forest were worst hit, after 70 elephants unleashed sporadic rampage on crops. A few hundred acres of crops were reportedly destroyed. Early this week, forest department undertook night vigils, chasing the herd into Denkanikottai RF.

In August 2014, farmers in and around Sanamavu range took to stuffed tiger toys on their fields to scare off the elephants. However, the stuffed toys did little even to ward off the cattle .

This aside, the forest department tried out on pilot basis an organic product, touted as an ‘elephant repellent’ .

However, farmers were least enthused to allow the spraying of an unknown “repellent” on their crops.

Asked about the fire fencing that farmers have resorted in some areas, the District Forest Officer E.Rajendran said the department does not encourage such methods.As a blaze continues to burn out of control in northwest Tasmania, extending an emergency warning for residents, a senior firefighter says authorities face weeks more work.

The small shack community of Temma remained on high alert for a second day on Thursday with the Tasmania Fire Service warning of an ‘uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast-moving’ fire, which has already burned through almost 13,000 hectares.

While outhouses, fencing and verandas have been destroyed, there are no reports of dwelling damage, injury or loss of livestock.

Four people have been treated for smoke inhalation.

The areas of Nelson Bay and Arthur River remain on alert and the Nelson Bay Bridge has been destroyed.

Deputy chief Jeremy Smith says forecast rain over coming days will bring little, if any, relief.

‘We’re only anticipating potentially up to 20mm over the three or four days over the weekend so that is not enough rain to extinguish these fires,’ he told ABC Radio.

‘We’ve got many weeks of going through the fire lines and ensuring they’re completely out.’

The fire was one of more than 70 started across the state over a fortnight ago during a series of dry-lightning strikes.

Many of the blazes are burning in remote, difficult-to-access areas, including sections of protected old-growth forest.

Access to Cradle Mountain in the state’s central north has been closed, along with the popular Overland Track, from which trekkers were being air-winched to safety late on Wednesday.

On Thursday fire crews are due to start arriving from New Zealand to join local and interstate personnel.

‘The crews will have to go and do the hard slog and track every edge of those fires,’ Mr Smith said.

Forty helicopters, including some on loan from interstate, are being used to water bomb the fire in difficult-to-reach areas, while radar technology is proving helpful as smoke reduces visibility.

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