Conflict: Villagers of Pangthang in Nanong gewog have found some respite from wild animals with the installation of solar fencing covering 67 acres of land.

Unlike past years, villagers no longer spend sleepless nights guarding their fields. The solar fencing was installed last year after villagers requested the Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) centre following high incidence of human-wildlife conflict.

The solar fencing benefits 37 households. Villagers grow sugarcane and maize as their main cash crops besides vegetables and fruits like mangoes.

With the solar fencing, villagers said life was much better now as they could devote more time to perform other household chores and farming. Villagers harvest maize twice a year.

Prior to the installation of solar fencing, villagers used traditional means to chase away wild animals by making noise and shouting.

Most villagers were happy to be able to reap what they harvested while a few lost only a small portion owing to poor management. In the past, they lost about 30 percent of their harvest every season to the wild animals.

“After the solar fencing was installed, we don’t worry as much as we used to do in the past years,” a villager Tshering Dorji, 51, said, adding that the solar fencing proved effective.

Another villager Sena, 53, said if not for the solar fencing, by the time they approach the harvest season, monkeys or wild boars would have uprooted the maize while deers would damage maize stems and eat the vegetables.

“The solar fencing has also helped us protect our poultries from fox,” Sena said.

However with the solar fencing not able to scare monkeys as it scares other wild animals, villagers are worried.

A villager said monkeys know that the solar fencing wire does not produce electric current continuously but just between intervals of few seconds.

“The monkeys tend to touch the fencing and wait for a few seconds after which they quickly jump over the fence,” Wangmo, 64, said. “The monkeys also try to break the wire and uproot the fencing.”

The villagers said they would request RNR to increase the current voltage or the length of the wire to curb the issue.

“If not monkeys being smart animals, as they understand how the solar fencing functions, they will start attacking our harvest again,” a villager said.

By Yangchen C Rinizn, Pemagatshel