Power fencing: Helping people help wildlife
“Our relief cannot be expressed in words,” says Bishnu Rijal, a resident of Bhimapur-6, Bardia. “Earlier, elephants and rhinos frequently raided our village, often coming across the border from India, and we lost wheat crops worth Rs 5-8 million each year. This spelled disaster for poor families who own only a few square meters of land. But since the electric fence has been installed we sleep soundly at night, as our lives and valuables are safe.” Ganga Ram Tharu from Bhimpaur-5 adds, “We had no protection except sticks and stones. Now, the fence keeps the animals away. Last week an elephant loosened a pole, but could not get past the fence.”
These statements reflect the views of most Bhimapur residents, where a 15 km long electric fence was inaugurated on March 11, 2013. The Bhimapur Electric Fence Installation Management Committee erected the fence with Hariyo Ban support through NTNC’s Bardia Conservation Program (BCP). It will benefit 1,031 households (6,755 people) by protecting 2,700 hectares of land near the Karnali River, where the communities cultivate paddy, wheat and sugarcane. The selection of fencing sites was based on demand and need. Rabin Kadariya, Program In-charge of BCP, explains, “When a community requests electric fencing, we survey the area and assess the wildlife threats before installation. As soon as we put up a fence in one area the neighboring community asks for it to be extended to protect their land.” After completion the fence is handed over to the local community, who collect funds for its upkeep. Kadariya says, “There is a risk that eventually the fence may make the community feel too secure and they may stop maintaining it properly, which would reduce its effectiveness because wild animals will break through it. Regular monitoring, maintenance and upgrading are essential.”
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