Man-animal conflict: Forest Dept mulls ‘Assam Model’ fencing
KOCHI: The mounting concerns over the latest bird flu outbreak in KutStung by the rising incidents of man-animal conflict in the forest fringe areas, the Forest Department is planning to construct Assam Model fencing using rail tracks along the vulnerable forest fringe areas to prevent wild animals from straying into human habitation and destroying the crops. The move assumes significance since the department has provided around `5.8 crore as compensation to the farmers and other affected sections following the rise in the number of such incidents.
According to Forest Minister K Raju, the department has taken steps to erect Assam Model fencing with used-rail tracks on an experimental basis at places vulnerable to human-wild elephant conflict, apart from constructing conventional elephant proof trenches and solar fencing. Speaking to Express, senior forest officials said in the first phase a six km Assam Model fencing in Wayanad North and five km fence in Nilambur would be erected.
An estimated `1.5 crore would be needed to erect the 1.5 km fence bolstered with concrete. And officials said it had been proved that the rail track fence would act as an effective barrier in the vulnerable areas. Since used tracks are available with the Railways, the construction of rail track fence is relatively cost-effective and requires no major maintenance. The department has submitted a `25 crore proposal to Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIFBI) and work on the project would begin subject to the availability of the fund, they said. Besides, the department is planning to construct 1.5 km- long rock built elephant-proof trench in Nilambur South Division at a cost of `1.42 crore and 4.5 km-long elephant- proof wall in Saharamukku-Kalkkulam region under the Palakkad circle at a cost of ` 6.3 crore using the KIFBI fund, said Forest officials. Apart from solar fencing, elephant-proof trenches and elephant-proof walls, the department is devising strategies to reduce man-animal conflict in the forest.
The strategies, include formation of rapid response teams to drive the wild elephants back into the forest, implanting radio collar on rogue elephants to alert people living in the forest fringe areas, setting up elephant squads, acquisition of private properties inside the forest for building elephant corridors, construction of check dams inside the forest to prevent the wild animal from straying outside in search of food and water and planting of fruit trees inside the forest to ensure enough fodder .