As cane ripens, farmers fear crop damage by elephants (Bijnor District, India)


Harveer Dabas, The Times of India

Date Published

Bijnor: Farmers cultivating sugarcane in the areas bordering the forests fear that elephants may enter their fields and destroy their almost ripe cane crop. Sugarcane is one of the favourite foods of elephants and when herds come to feed, they damage standing crops. Sometimes, the animals attack humans as well.

In view of the increased presence of elephants near villages, forest department has asked farmers to be vigilant and exercise caution.

After Lakhimpur Kheri, Bijnor district accounts for largest area under cane cultivation in the state. Sugarcane is cultivated in large tracts of land including Sahuwala, Kalluwala, Rehad, and Barapur bordering forest areas.

A farmer of Harra village, Gaurav Chauhan, said, “Every year, large herds of elephants come to our fields and wreak havoc. When we try to chase them away, they sometimes try to attack us. It is difficult to drive them away and they return at night, when we cannot go to our fields. In the morning, we find our crops trampled and crushed. We have to bear huge financial losses as a result.” 

Forest officials said last year, a man was crushed to death by an elephant when he was guarding his field from a machan. This year, heavy rainfall in Uttrakhand forced elephants to move to Bijnor district’s forest. Herds have been sighted by villagers. These elephants are a threat to farmers. 

Divisional forest officer M Semmaran said, “Many farmers cultivate sugarcane in their fields near the forest. I have advised them not to do so as it is risky for farmers. Now, we have urged farmers not to go to their fields at night. We are thinking of digging up a ditch around the forest area to prevent elephants from entering cultivated fields and protect farmers. The plan is far in the pipe line.”