BERHAMPUR: Students of a school in the district have come up with an innovative approach to drive away tuskers from human habitations and minimize the man-elephant conflict in Odisha.
The students of Saraswati Vidya Mandir Neelakantha Nagara have suggested plantation of green chillies, cayenne pepper and sunflower, which they say would minimise crop loss and damage to villages.
"We interacted with seniors from different villages in Khallikote area where elephant depredation has been high in last few years. They experimented with chilly and sunflower plantations to save their crops," said Sohan Kumar Panda and Sibasish Sahu, IX standard students and the members of the team.
The project has been selected for the National Children's Science Congress (NCSC) at Chandigarh University in Punjab from December 27 to January 3, and the National Science Congress (NSC) from January 3 to 7 next year at the Mysore University.
Around 26 projects from the state have been selected for NCSC and NSC respectively, said R N Ray, chairman, NSCS Odisha.
The project is significant given the backdrop of man-elephant conflict that claimed 354 human and 402 elephant lives in the last five years. Acres of crops were also lost during this period.
The team members also toured Ganjam district where cases of elephant depredation were high. Interestingly, the study showed that change of temperature was also responsible for elephant migration to human habitations, said Jateswar Kar, the guide teacher.
He said the elephants can adapt in a temperature of 23 degree Celsius. But, the temperature in Bhubaneswar hovers between 35 and 50 degree Celsius, forcing the elephants of Chandaka to migrate towards Khallikote that is cooler than the capital.
The breeze from the sea, the increase of ground-level as well as the vast forest cover in the area is a favourable habitat for the jumbos, he said.