Less battle between humans and animals in India Global Voices in Dutch

A family working in agriculture in V-Kota village in Andhra Pradesh with Parabraksh in their field. Photo: Catedan. Used with permission.

Malan Raut, 40, from the western state of Maharashtra in India, was a happy farmer when she switched to organic farming in 2016 to deal with the effects of climate change. Cereals, pulses and vegetables are grown on 3.5 hectares of land in her native village of Nagarsoga. But three years later, she ran into an unexpected problem: the crops were lost due to wild animal attacks.

Malan Raut next to Parabraksh installed in her field in Nagarsoga village in Maharashtra.

Malan Raut next to Parabraksh in her field in Nagarsoga village in Maharashtra. Photo: Catedan. Used with permission.

“People of wild boar and deer ran to my land at night from a spot close to the wilderness and bushes, eating, trampling and destroying my crops,” Malan told Global Voices during a phone call. According to her, due to this increased losses, she lost around INR 30,000 to 40,000 (€375 to €499), which made it more difficult to support her family.

In 2020, the non-profit organization Swayam Shikshyam Prayog installed a Parabraksh device (in Kannada, the language of southern Karnataka, this is the designation for protection from wild animals) in Latur.

Parabraksh uses solar technology to generate flashes of light that chase animals from the fields without harming them. It uses a 6-watt solar panel mounted on a lithium-ion battery and four LEDs that flash all night, scattering random patterns throughout the field. The lights can be seen from a distance of 300 to 500 meters (depending on the landscape), to prevent the animal from entering the affected area.

Malan installed the device at the weak entrance to her farmland. She is very happy with it. “Animals no longer come into my field and the device works in approximately 97 to 98 percent of cases,” she says.

The device costs INR 10,000 (€ 125) and is made by Katidhan, a scientific research and innovation organization based in Bangalore, Karnataka. According to SR Ayan, head of the organization, the programmed flash patterns emitted by the device obstruct the vision of animals such as wild boars, nilgai, bison, elephants, tigers and leopards, preventing them from entering the danger zone.

Long shot of animal deterrent light in the middle of an agricultural field in Tamil Nadu.

A remote shot of the frightening anti-animal light in a field in Tamil Nadu. Katedan’s photo. Used with permission.

“With the expansion of human settlement and development activities, forests – the natural habitat of wildlife – are disintegrating and causing destruction and disturbance,” Sanjeev Kumar, Chief Forest Conservation Officer, Jarkhand told Global Voices in an email. This forces the animals to search for food and water to invade the villages near the forests. This always leads to raids on crops, killing of livestock, etc., which causes conflict between humans and animals.

While there is no nationwide aggregate data on crop losses, the significance of the incident can be inferred from some government figures, which resulted in over 5,543 hectares of land lost to crops in 7,589 accidents between 2017 and 2020 in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh alone. He went. During the same period, Tamil Nadu also reported 7,562 cases of wild animal harvest.

According to Ian, the solar-powered animal deterrent has so far reached more than 1,000 farmers in 100 villages in 12 states, as well as coffee and banana plantation owners, 3 or 4 state forest departments, and several wildlife and development organizations.

Parapraksh being installed outside a livestock pen in a village in Ladakh.  Image credit: Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust.  Used with permission.

Parapraraksh installation in a cattle barn in a village in Ladakh. Photo: Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust. Used with permission.

The device was initially deployed in 2019 to prevent snow leopards from killing livestock in the remote village of Kisarin in eastern Ladakh. Most of the villagers there are herders who herd sheep and mountain goats on the mountain slopes of the Himalayas.

According to Jigmet Dadul of the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, which coordinated the installation on behalf of the villagers, they collectively herd approximately 150 to 200 head of cattle in communal cattle sheds on summer pastures. Cattle troughs had no roof or door, so predators could easily enter at night. They targeted one animal, but ended up killing or injuring nearly 50 percent of the other animals in their attack, leaving it in the cattle barn. This represents a financial loss of approximately INR 200,000 (€2,530).

Outside the cattle pens, ten pararapraks have been installed in seven villages. To protect the cattle from further attacks, the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust helped villagers build roofs and doors in their cattle barns.

Prabraksh is installed in Vikram Munda field in Bandhuabeda village in Odisha standing tall to prevent elephants

Prabraksh stands tall in a field belonging to Vikram Munda in Bandhuabeda village in Odisha to drive away elephants. Photo: Catedan. Used with permission.

Vikram Munda from the village of Bandhuabida in the eastern state of Odisha, which grows cashews, brown rice and local seasonal vegetables, has complained of annual losses of nearly INR 60,000 (760 euros) from attacks by herds of wild elephants. But Parapraksh came to the rescue in 2020.

“We used to stay up all night for the harvest, with loud noises and fireworks to drive away the elephants, who came out of the nearby woods in groups of 6 or 7.”

According to Debashish Sharma, a forestry official in Purulia (West Bengal), the elephants move crisscross through the forests. The villages were the scene of their traditional migrations through the adjacent forests to connect Odisha with the neighboring countries. But today they are isolated, wrecked places interspersed with villages, where wild elephants eventually roam.

Parapraksh from close quarters guarding pepper in a field in Odisha.

Parapraksh guards a pepper in a field in Odisha. Photo: Catedan. Used with permission.

“As food in the forests is gradually running out, wild elephants are switching to a different kind of food, from the former cello-based forest food to the more readily available and more nutritious starchy crops in the fields,” Sharma says. “Because elephants are among the largest herbivores, with maximum food intake, the harm they do is much greater than the harm done by other crop-stealing animals.”

In the Karnataka village of Thirupidi, organic farmer Raghavendra suffers from monkeys. “Monkeys swing through the trees screaming and screaming hundreds at a time, looting my crops and picking up poultry too,” complains Bhatt. In one year, he lost up to 150,000 Indian rupees (1934 euros) on his 15-hectare farm.

A solar powered sound device - Kapikaat - is installed in a tree on the Raghavendra Bhat farm, in Karnataka to keep monkeys away.

A solar-powered Kapikat device in a tree at the Raghavendra Bhat farm in Karnataka keeps monkeys at bay. Photo: Catedan. Used with permission.

But to scare off invaders, last year he installed Kapikaat, a solar-powered acoustic device developed by Katidan. The device, which is attached to trees at a height of 3 to 3.65 meters, emits various sounds, such as the roar and roar of predators, gunshots or fireworks. According to Bhatt, the device is 60 to 70 percent effective because the monkeys are now entering the fields from another side.

For Ayan, surpassing the intelligence of wild animals and keeping them apart from others is a challenge. Meanwhile, Catidan is also trying to come up with solutions on how farmers can use the same device to keep multiple types of toys off the fields. “While installing the device, we adjust the height so that the frightening flashes of light hit exactly the eyes of the animals in question.”

The organization aims to reach more than 2,000 farmers in 150 other villages this year, in collaboration with state forest officials, as well as at least 15 to 20 farm owners, including coffee, rubber, tea and coconut.

The interviews in this story were conducted by phone, email, and in person during our preparations in September 2022

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