Guwahati: With an aim to lessen the impact of human-elephant conflict in Assam that results in casualties on both sides besides damage to property and crop, research-based biodiversity conservation organization Aaranyak aims to foster co-existence between humans and wild animals.

Aaranyak and WWF India jointly installed a 7.5 km solar-powered fence to facilitate human-elephant coexistence at Segunbari Part 1 & 2, Nonaipara and Arongajuli area in Udalguri district and formally inaugurated it on February 15 at No. 1 Segunbari LP School campus.

Aaranyak installed another 3.5 km long solar-powered fence at Nichinta Village in Goalpara district and inaugurated the same on February 19.  

This initiative will ensure food security and a substantial decrease in the level of human-elephant conflict (HEC), thus directly benefiting local communities residing the areas. The installation of solar-powered fences was possible because of overwhelming support from local communities, Forest Department, and our generous donors, Aaranyak said. 

Both the solar-powered fences consist of two strands and have been installed covering several villages around the Nonaipara and Arongajuli area of Udalguri district and Nichinta village of  Goalpara district. Both these districts are high human-elephant conflict zone. A total of three units of solar-operated high-power fence machines were installed to run the fences.

Before the installation of the fences, the people of these areas used to have sleepless nights in fear of losing their crops, property, and lives to wild elephants. A direct positive impact has been seen after the installation of the power fence on the local community in the form of their improved social well-being and enhanced food security.

The organisation said they have provided technical know-how and equipment, while the local communities participated actively in installing the fences. Besides, capacity building training was provided to the local youth for maintenance and ensuring the sustainability of the fence. Fence Management Committees comprising members from the local villages were also formed to look after the fences and undertake regular maintenance.

In Udalguri district, the event was attended by Anjan Baruah, Abhijit Baruah, Rubul Tanti, Rabiya  Doimary and Pradeep Barman from Aaranyak. WWF-India was represented by Deba Dutta, Sunit  Das and Bipul Nath. Besides, Debajit Borah and Naba Kr. Mahanta of Green Environment Task  Force, social activist Kamal Azad, local conservationist Dibakar Nayak and PhD scholar Sayan Banerjee along with 60 other participants from local villages attended the inauguration meeting. 

Deba Dutta, Anjan Baruah, Kamal Azad, Jugal Singh Lahiri, Ram Kr. Limbu, Debajit Bora, Anjana  Tanti interacted and shared their experiences on mitigating HEC. The local communities also shared the benefits that they had obtained from the solar fencing supported by Aaranyak and  WWF-India. 

At Nichinta, an MoU for five years with clauses for maintenance and smooth functioning of the fences was signed by each of the fence committees during the event. Jagannath Agarwala, Range Officer, officially inaugurated the fence.

The programme was attended by an encouraging number of forest staff, members, and staff of Aaranyak. President of solar fencing committee Monikanta Nath with other members, president of Nichinta village committee Dalim Nath and villagers from  Nichinta area also present.  

The villagers expressed their gratitude to Aaranyak for undertaking this initiative, which ensured a peaceful coexistence between human beings and wild elephants.

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