New fencing powered by solar in India could protect farmer’s crops and elephants, a story from The Times of India notes. Currently some farmers are using live wires to try to protect their crop fields, but the voltage is too high and recently five elephants died when they came in contact with them.
While this number of elephant deaths might sound small, they occurred in just a one-month period. In one operation, authorities confiscated approximately 900 meters of wire used by farmers in the Narayanpatna area.
One could easily sympathize with the farmers when they lose essential crops to elephants, but the elephant deaths are hardly a humane solution. Another potential issue is the encroachment by humans into elephant habitat. Conflict between elephants and humans results in many deaths each year.
While some may be skeptical that a mere electric fence can stop elephants, an organization called Saving Elephants by Helping People has made an important distinction in fencing approaches. Previously, some efforts have been made to fence elephants within a portion of land. These attempts were not successful, but fencing elephants out of certain spaces has been. (The Virginia Dept. of Game and Fish has stated that electric fences can even be highly effective deterrents for bears, which are predators.)
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Still, if there is a drought which leads to a drastic decline in food sources, wild elephants may simply trample electric fences to get to crops. Elephants are intelligent and may learn over time the electric shocks are painful, but not harmful.
One thing that might be an even better elephant deterrent is wild bees, because apparently elephants fear them strongly.
Image Credit: Jayanand Govindaraj, Wiki Commons