Tusker menace leaves Punarbas farmland barren (Nepal)


Bhawani Bhatta Punarbas, Katmandu Post

Date Published

Many farmers in southern belt of Punarbas Municipality are compelled to leave their land fallow due to elephant menace.

Dhan Bahadur Chand of Punarbas said he goes to Indian villages to work for daily wage though he owns one bigha of farmland. His neighbour Gopal Damai also owns one and a half bighas of land but works in other’s land to support his family. “I have not grown any crop in my farmland for the past five years,” he said.
Local people in Punarbas-1 and 8 said wild elephants from India’s Dudhwa National Park enter the area during harvesting season every year and destroy crops.
“Despite owning fertile land, we are worried about managing two square meals a day for our families,” said Ujjwal Sunar, a local resident, during a public hearing organised recently. The farmers said they cannot grow crops if tuskers continue entering the area.
Besides destroying crops, wild elephants also damage houses and attack locals. A tusker trampled a local resident to death last year. “We make fire at night to chase away the elephants. The authorities concerned have not addressed our concerns despite repeated requests,” said Shiva Prasad Poudel, a local resident.
Last year, 138 farmers from Punarbas Municipality and Baisebichawa VDC-1 filed complaints with the District Forest Office demanding compensation and immediate efforts to control elephants. They had also demanded that an electric fencing be set up to control elephant movement.
Kamal Chitrakar, a ranger at the Area Forest Office in Tribhuvanbasti, said immediate construction of the electric fencing to control wild tuskers is not possible. He said thorny plants could be planted in the bordering area to keep elephants away.