Power fencing: Helping people help wildlife
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.”
With support from Hariyo Ban Program, NTNC has also installed fences since June 2012 in Patabhar (2 km) and Doulatpur (2 km) in Bardia, as well as Gyaneshwor Community Forest (0.9 km), Setidevi Community Forest (1.5 km) and Siddi Ganesh Community Forest (2.8 km) in Chitwan, benefitting a total of 7,827 households. In addition it has carried out maintenance of 43.2 km of existing fencing. Chiranjibi Pokhrel, Project Coordinator of the Biodiversity Conservation Center, says, “We received over 50 applications for a fence in Gyaneshwor, with complaints about rhino, tiger, wild boar and deer. Since installing the fence there have been no complaints, indicating its effectiveness.”
Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is a major concern for wildlife conservation. There are frequent cases of wildlife raiding crops and attacking people or livestock near protected areas and forests, causing damage to property, injury and even loss of life. People may retaliate by killing wild animals. To prevent damage and retaliatory killings, well planned and maintained electric fencing is an effective control measure to separate wildlife from people and their livelihood activities. Fencing protects people and reduces their fear of wildlife, making them more willing to take part in conservation activities. Kadariya says, “Even if human-wildlife conflict still occurs occasionally, the community is tolerant and less likely to retaliate, because they understand that the best possible precautions are being taken.”
By Richa Bhattarai, Communications Associate, Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal
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