A three-day exposure visit to Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka for 11 indigenous farmers from Sathyamagalam Tiger reserve and Nilgiris was organised by Wildlife Research and Conservation Society (WRSC) based in Pune. WRSC works with communities and farmers on methods of mitigating human-wildlife interactions. They work in nine Ranges across 122 Villages with more than 900 Farmers. My colleagues P. chandran (Additional Coordinator) Justin Raj (Subject coordinator) from Keystone also traveled to dandeli along with other indigenous farmers.

 We reached our destination on the 10th of July 2018. We were accommodated at the Magod falls forest guest house. After having a satisfying lunch we met with WRCS personnel Ravi Yallapur and Aniket. They presented their experiences and various low-cost methods that are being implemented in the region to reduce the interaction between humans and wildlife.

After that session, farmers had an opportunity to interact with WRSC members during which they shared their methods that are being put to test to mitigate interactions with wildlife in their areas back home. We were able to relate with them since crop damage by elephants were common in our region and in theirs as well. Tree Shed Guarding, Ibex Fencing Trip Alarm, Chilly rope method, Blinking Torch method, Sound effect method and Bee Fences were the different methods that were used to prevent elephants from raiding their crops.

On the first day, we went to Kyathana gera village where we met with a farmer named Nandish. He owns 40 acres of land in which he cultivates sugarcane. He explained how the level of conflicts has reduced in the recent times compared to its frequent occurrence 10 years back. He also mentioned how Village Forest Committees (VFCs) facilitates awareness programmes and knowledge training on various methods that can be used to mitigate interactions with wildlife. In the field, we also learned how to make effective chilly ropes that can be used to deter elephants. Later in the afternoon, we also visited Gadigere a Siddi Tribes Colony with 60 households who cultivate maize.

On the second day, we visited Hulimundige village and met a farmer Preethesh who grows betelnut and pepper. This farmer uses beehive fence as a measure to prevent elephants from raiding his crops. We also met a carpenter/ beekeeper who designs different kinds of bee boxes and installs them in nearby farms to test the effect it has on preventing elephants.

The farmers from Nilgiris and Sathymangalam were eager to implement these methods back in their farm. We’ve asked them to share their experience and new learning with their fellow community members as well.

By Mahadesh B