Farmers rely on desperate measures in desperate times

Farmers in Sipsu are trying every possible measure to protect their farmlands from elephants and wild boars

Much to the relief of farmers in Tashichholing (Sipsu) gewog in Samtse, the gewog administration has started resorting to using boulders and cutting the ways into cliffs to stop the marauding elephants from encroaching into the farmers’ fields.

These indigenous measures to counter elephants’ encroachment to the farmland have been put in place after all other measures have failed to keep the elephants away. Two passages for the elephants have been blocked as a pilot project. The strategies are adopted based on the farmers’ recommendation two weeks ago.

Tashichholing Gup, Samir Giri, said the farmers have started reaping the benefits of this strategy.

Sipsu is located on a plateau and blocking the main entry points for the elephants is seen as an option to reduce encroachment. Since then, elephants have not reportedly invaded the crops.

This desperate measure has been put in place after farmers have started losing most of their produce to wild animals continuously year after year. The issue of human wildlife conflict in Tashichholing, which has been going on for quite some time, has also compelled the farmers to leave their farmland fallow and look for other works elsewhere.

This desperate measure also comes after various measures in previous years such as installing of electric fences and sirens were ineffective.

And because of the marauding wild animals, almost around 300 acres of land are left fallow in Singyegang and more than 60% of the paddy fields are left fallow in Peljorling. Other crops that the farmers used to grow earlier have also been stopped for the fear of losing it to the wild animals. However, leaving more land fallow has only increased the frequency of visit by wild animals in the decreased area of cultivation.

Meanwhile, a crop insurance group has also been formed within the community to collect Nu 500 annually and compensate those becoming victims of the wild animals. A man has lost millet to these pests which was about to be harvested.

According to the Tashichholing Gup, Samir Giri, electric fencing will also be added to the existing fences covering more than seven kilometers of the farmland in Singyegang.

“Singyegang falls at the border and is worst affected as it lies near the corridor of elephants’ passage,” the gup said, adding that Nu 2.7mn worth of electric fences will be installed within this year. “Having an open border, the electric fencing will be installed across the farmlands and human settlements without disturbing the elephants’ habitat.”

The gup emphasized that elephants’ existence won’t be affected and that the measure is to only protect human settlements and crops. “We have to coexist with the wildlife. We are working to help both the farmers and the wildlife,” he said.

Singyegang Tshogpa, Ram Prasad said the blockade has served to be effective and farmers have started reaping the benefits without much loss since then. “But still there are other passages which need to be blocked. It must be effective,” he said.

However, the farmers are still yet to find solution to wild boars that keep on invading their crops.

Krishna Ghalley from Sipsu