Fencing of forest wells to prevent jumbo deaths (Bhubaneswar, India)


Ryan Ramanath, Times of India

Date Published

The Wildlife Society of Odisha has prepared a prototype of fencing to prevent elephants from falling into wells in their habitats. It has submitted the design to the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Siddhant Das.

The state wildlife society has sent a proposal for three types of fencing around the wells.

While one is a T-shaped concrete pillar set up around the wells to prevent elephants from entering the area, the other would be set up by crossing two poles in case of small wells. The third would be the burial of those wells, which are not in use.

According to the Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO), 49 animals, including 21 elephants, have fallen into the wells in several forest areas in the state since 2012. Other animals, which fell into the wells include sloth bears, chittals, barking deer and wild boar.

The prototype has been developed after a thorough research and study of the previous cases and elephant habitats. It has been observed that in most cases, the forest department seeks the help of locals to rescue the animals. “In the past, six animals, including three elephants had died after falling into the wells,” said WSO secretary Biswajit Mohanty. In many cases, elephant calves get separated from the herd if the mother elephant falls into the well, he added.

The fencing will be used in the state elephant habitats and the wildlife wing of the forest department needs to identify the wells located on elephants paths, he said. “I have received the proposal and the design of the fence from WSO. It has been circulated among the divisional forest officers. We are yet to take a final decision on whether we will implement it,” said Das.

The WSO sources said the design of the fence is such that it is portable and cost-effective. It can be easily erected and installed using minimum labour. The fences should be painted white so that the elephants can see them from a distance even during the night. The poles will have hooks so as to be able to bind iron mesh around it, said Mohanty.