After a year of peaceful paddy cultivation last year, farmers of Singeygang (Hangay) at Tashichholing (Sipsu), Samtse are back to battling elephants encroaching into their paddy fields. Elephants have already attacked their fields five times this year.

Singeygang tshogpa Ram Prashad Sharma said that the elephants that entered the village on May 22 damaged a cowshed. “There were no other damages,” he said.

In 2017, Tashichholing gewog blocked 14 elephant entrances that allow access to Singeygang. Two of these blocked passages have been compromised due to rain.

The passages blocked by stonewalls do not stay intact, Ram Prashad Sharma said, adding that the walls need to be concreted.

Tashichholing gup Sameer Giri said the blocking of elephant passages helped Singeygang farmers to harvest paddy without any problem in 2017.

However, with the two passages left open due to heavy rain, Sameer Giri said farmers are worried. The entrances have to be blocked with concrete walls as stonewalls are not stable enough, he added.

He said that the government and gewog administration have been supportive and that elephants and wild boars were their main problems.

The gewog, meanwhile, has proposed to the government about Nu 7million (M). “The government has assured that they would support,” the gup said.

There are 80 households in Singeygang. Most farmers had quit farming in this village due to elephant encroachment.

Elephants also have started to come in other areas of Tashichholing. Sipsu gup Sarita Chhetri said elephants appeared two to three times in her village. “Maize plants were destroyed,” she said.

Wild boar is also a growing problem, Sarita Chhetri said.

Despite the rain, people of Tashichholing gewog along with people of Jogimara, Kangdungphu, and Peljorling are also busy working on installing electric fencing on a land stretching two-kilometer.  The government has funded about Nu 2.4M for this fencing that covers three places.

Unlike the past electric fencing constructed using wooden poles, angle irons are used this time.

Gup Sammer Giri said wooden poles rot easily. “It was not very successful,” he said.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing