Farmers quiver as tuskers wreck crops and property

March 05, 2018

Bhawani Bhatta,The Kathmandu Post,  March 05, 2018

Kanchanpur  -A herd of wild elephants has been wreaking havoc at Punarbas Municipality in Kanchanpur district near the Indian border for the past one week.

The marauding wild tuskers destroyed 38 houses and damaged crops in fields located in Punarbas Municipality. The local people are in panic due to the elephant menace in the area.

“There was reign of terror when a herd of elephants entered the settlement in Punarbas-9  around 10pm on Saturday and wreaked havoc for three hours. Wheat planted in about five bighas of land was completely destroyed,” said Keshav Prasad Timilsina, a local who is also the chairman of ‘elephant victim struggle committee’.

The farmers are very worried now as the elephants damage wheat crop that is ready for harvest.

Elephant menace is a recurring problem in Punarbas area every year. The tuskers from Dudhuwa National Park in India and Shuklaphanta National Park (SNP) enter the settlements and cause havoc. The local people, especially the farmers and owner of non-concrete houses, have been greatly affected due to the problem.

Similarly, wards No 3, 5 of Punarbas that abut with the SNP are also affected. The tuskers from the park enter the settlement and damage the corps.

“Thirty-eight non-concrete houses were completely destroyed in the municipality in the past few days. Wheat and sugarcane planted in more than 25 bighas of land were also damaged,” said Mayor Dil Bahadur Air. He said that Nepal Red Cross district chapter and Jhali branch provided tarpaulins and kitchen utensils to the victims. The municipality said it provided Rs 2,000 to each family whose crops were destroyed by the tuskers.  

Electric fence was set up in Punarbas area with the help of the District Forest Office, National Trust for Nature Conservation, the SNP and Tarai Arch Landscape Programme. The locals complained that the electric fence was damaged in some places and they are not repaired so far. “The tuskers entered from those places and run amok,” said Timilsina. 

Mayor Air said that the municipality has allocated Rs 1.5 million budget this year to install and repair electric fence in the affected areas. “We will soon install the fence with the support of other agencies,” he added.

The mayor said the municipality is planning to install halogen lights to control the entry of the tuskers for the time being.