In India's West Bengal state, 1-2 elephants die each year from accidental or deliberate electrocutions. But by November 2020 up to 10 elephants had been electrocuted. While some cases were caused by sagging wires, deliberate electrocutions have been surging during COVID lockdown, with farmers protecting their crops using illegal electrical fences. This pilot, based in Jalpaiguri district, aims to thwart elephant electrocution by using friendly fences and community outreach to create awareness.
Asian elephants are endangered, with less than 40,000 remaining worldwide, 27,000 of them in India. In W.Bengal, 1-2 elephants die each year from accidental or deliberate electrocutions, but by Nov. 2020, 10 had been electrocuted. While some deaths were caused by sagging wires, deliberate electrocutions are surging rapidly. During these desperate times, farmers are protecting crops using illegal high voltage electric fences. Beehive fencing is unsuitable, as the annual rainfall averages 3500mm.
We will adopt a two-pronged approach. The first phase entails installation of low-cost, reusable solar fencing, designed to be easily set up and dismantled after the harvest season. The fence will deter elephants from entering into villages and farmland, thus averting tragedies. The second phase involves community outreach to educate landowners and farmers regarding topics including, but not limited to legal ramifications of high-voltage fencing and the need to protect elephant and human lives.
By installing elephant-friendly fencing, we show caring and concern for the villagers, which could foster compassion in their minds and open their hearts to coexist harmoniously. This is crucial as food resources are rapidly dwindling, and competition for space will only intensify conflict, as human population is exploding. India is poised to become the most populated country by 2027. Nature Mates, our grassroots partner, has identified villages in the north and are supporting us to completion.