Conflict: Although solar fences have served their purpose, villagers of Samrang gewog say there is still more to be done to combat the rampant elephant attacks on crops.

They say that there is a need for technical support in terms of training and equipment from both the central and local governments, to keep away elephants.

Traditional ways of chasing elephants like making noises by hitting on metals or drums, shouting and using firecrackers are not effective anymore.

Villagers say that solar fences were effective in the beginning, but the elephants being intelligent animals, still break in.

“Once the poles fall, fence weakens and the current fluctuates,” a villager said. “Sometimes the fence runs out of current because of the weather, especially when there is no sun.”

With the maize season just around the corner, to be followed by paddy, villagers are already worried about their harvests.

Bidhen Chettri, a villager, said that since it is the dry season right now, elephants attack houses, adding risk to human lives. Elephants have also damaged their underground water pipes in the village. “If we’ve such opportunity to attend the training or receive equipment, it would be easier to chase the animals,” he said. “Samrang being located next to border, it has become a migration route for elephants. When the border people chase them, they come to Samrang.”

Some villagers added that the gewog administration should propose some ideas.  The gewog needs an administrative officer.

The same issue was raised during the human settlement minister Dorji Choden’s visit to the gewog. The minister has assured the people that the issue would be looked into and that she will inform the agriculture minister.

Samrang has 29 households and is 24km from Samdrupcholing dungkhag.

Gup Tara Bir Bista said that budget is arranged from the gewog development grant to buy solar fence materials and to maintain and renovate them.

“We’re still waiting for two sets of machines to repair the fence,” said Tara Bir Bista, adding that there is no separate budget to conduct such training and to form a wildlife squad.

He added that a yearly contribution of Nu 100 is collected from the households to maintain the fence.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Samdrupcholing