Amid increased cases of elephant herds destroying crops and property in the southern districts of Maharashtra, the state Forest Department has decided to resort to ‘jumbo hooters’ or mechanised scarecrows, which scare the intruding animals away with a combination of light and sound.
A Forest Department official said it’s a non-intrusive measure, unlike the solar-powered fence around farmlands. To deter the elephants from entering settlements, the Corbett Foundation, along with the state Forest Department, installed the animal intrusion detection and repellent systems in May this year.
The system installed on the boundary of the fields will raise an alarm when a wild animal passes within its radius. It will alert the quick response team and the villagers or the owner.
A pilot project has already begun in a village in the Dodamarg-Amboli region of Sindhudurg district.
Kedar Gore, director of the Corbett Foundation, said, “It is a pilot project and we are studying its success rate. Elephants are intelligent animals and adapt to these measures faster than other animals. There are other methods, like solar fencing and plantation of honey, but they have not been successful. This is a new method that we are trying in order to stop or scare away the elephants from entering fields and destroying plantations.”
To prevent human-wildlife conflict, the state Forest Department has also started to draft a long-term mitigation plan. The movement of elephants between the Tillari Conservation Reserve, bordering the Karnataka-Goa border and in the adjacent Kolhapur districts, increases between February and July each year. The herds of wild elephants make a temporary migration via the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wildlife corridor, passing swathes of agricultural and horticultural plantations en route.