The solar fencing project that’s being implemented in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, India’s biggest and oldest National Park, is showing promise, with many farmers in the area seeing good results from the project.
Due to the TATR’s nature as a national park and a breeding ground for wildlife, the traditional electric fences and their mains electric fence energizer that farmers installed in the past have proven to be a death sentence for the big cats that prey on the herbivores around the farms. From 2016-17, six tigers died via electrocution within the Nagpur and Chandrapur districts alone. There is, however, no record of a large number of herbivores dying thanks to the fences.
The solar fencing project started in response to the damage being done to crops, with a pilot run of 9 farmers located near Tadoba back in 2013-14. Following the success of the pilot, the number of beneficiaries have ballooned within the past 4 years, and has hit 2,065 as of early July 2018, according to the Deputy Conservator of the Forest Buffer at the TATR, GP Narwane.
One unit of solar fencing, which consists of the battery, panel, mains electric fence energizer, and the wiring costs about Rs 12,000, with the project providing Rs 10,000 from the Tadoba Tiger Conservation Foundation (TCF), and Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Jan Van Yojana. By July of 2018, RS1.50 crore (15 million)/ US$206,340 had been given to beneficiaries, and 563 farmers had enrolled for the programme by that point in time.
Farmers have expressed appreciation of the programme and its results, with some saying that they no longer need to go out patrolling at night in squads, called ‘jagli’, as the fence deals with wildlife that would otherwise damage the farms. The DC current flowing from the fence jolts animals for a nanosecond, scaring them off without any lasting damage.
Farmers in the vicinity ofTadoba, Dewada, Junona, Pahami, Sitarampeth, and Zari have reported similar success stories.
Eco-Pro President BanduDhotre says that the best part about the solar fencing is that it’s installed between October and January, when the crops are ready for harvesting, before being taken down for reuse at the same time next year, meaning they don’t block animals and humans, which is good for both humans and wildlife in the area.