Railings to be raised as jumbo jumps fence

Railings to be raised as jumbo jumps fence

Railings to be raised as jumbo jumps fence

 The Forest department has decided to expedite the work on increasing the height of the fence in the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve (NTR), by adding a one-foot solar fence to the existing one of 10-foot height.

Though the decision to increase the height was taken some time ago, the department has decided to expedite the work, a day after pictures of an elephant crossing the fence started doing the rounds. The pictures have caught the attention of forest officials, wildlife conservationists and photographers. C Jayaram, additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), told DH they were now speeding up the work.

“As increasing the height using rails would have been an expensive affair, we decided to have a solar fence over the existing rails. The work is already under way,” he said.

Around 22 km of rails have been installed in NTR to serve as a fence, of which around 50% would be of 10-foot height.
“Elephants are known to manoeuvre their way in the forest. They are very intelligent animals. We have noticed that it is only this tusker which crosses over the rail fencing. Camera-trap photographs have shown the same. If one observes the pictures closely, the elephant is not going outside the forest, he is returning to the forest. Just because of one elephant, it cannot be said that erecting a fence is a futile exercise,” he said.

There is a huge plantation crop on the other side of the fence. The farmer is not complaining of any crop raid by this tusker. The farmer too understands that elephants are intelligent and they can find their way in, said another official.

R Sukumar, elephant expert, said the height of the fence looked small in the pictures. The department should try the Armstrong elephant trench model of Addo National Park, South Africa. In the last 64 years, only one elephant has been able to cross over the fence. Here, the railings are high and they are tied to each other. Increasing the height will also be helpful, but these rails should be used wisely as they are expensive.

Another forest official said there was another case where an elephant while trying to slide under the railings in Mysuru wildlife range got stuck and died.