New way to chase away elephants (Nilgiris District, India) 


Rohan Premkumar, The Hindu

Date Published

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The Gudalur Forest division has adopted an innovative device to chase away elephants.

The “PVC Gun” – a sound-making contraption devised in Gudalur, is completely safe for forest staff as well as elephants.

It was devised after a forest staff was killed last year by an animal while he was trying to chase it away.

H. Madhusudhanam, a local conservationist in Gudalur, says that the “gun” uses calcium carbide and water, which when mixed together inside the contraption, produces acetylene acid and hydrogen gas. A small gas lighter, which acts as a trigger, is used to light the gas which produces a loud bang.

About 1 kg of calcium carbide costs only ? 120, while firecracker, especially rockets, are very expensive. The PVC gun is extremely effective, inexpensive, and cheap to produce, said one of the forest staff who used the device recently, which is being tested in the O’Valley and Pandalur Ranges for the last couple of weeks.

Efforts to innovate this new design were taken after the death of Suresh Kumar, a forest guard near Kannampalli, near Cherambadi in September of 2016.

“The Gudalur DFO had identified the need to have a device which would allow forest staff to remain a safe distance away from the elephant during operations to chase them into forests,” added Mr. Madhusudhanam.

“Even if one of the contraptions get broken, they can be easily fixed for ? 700, as the ‘muzzle’ and main portions of the unit are made from PVC pipes,” added Mr. Madhusudhanam.

District Forest Officer (Gudalur Forest Division), P.K. Dileep, said that firecrackers posed a fire safety risk to both elephants as well as to forest staff. “The crackers can sometimes harm elephants. This device doesn’t use any projectiles and is completely safe and forest staff also don’t need to get too close to the animals,” said Mr. Dileep, who said that the device was still being tried out in the division.