Bamboo fences round wells to stop jumbos from falling into them

BHUBANESWAR: To save from falling into abandoned wells, the in the has decided to construct fences around such wells.
Wells that have dried up and are no longer in use pose a major threat to the pachyderms as they cannot gauge their depth and fall in them, resulting in as many as 41 cases of elephants having been injured from falling into unused wells since 2012. Five of these 41 elephants have died.

The forests adjoining Athmalik, Athgarh, Dhenkanal and are ‘elephant-rich‘ in forester‘s terms. In these regions, elephant herds create havoc in human habitations, damage crops and destroy houses. These same animals also face dangers stemming from human mistakes, like the threat of abandoned wells.

Divisional forest officer (Athmalik) Samyak Samantra said creating these wooden barriers involves only the cost of labour. “We have bamboo that are cut and pruned to allow further growth. So are the branches of other trees. We will mix both and raise a fence, four to five feet above the ground,” Samantra said.

He clarified that any fence – wooden or concrete – can be damaged by elephants. “But the very fact that they are around the wells will help elephants know from a distance that there is a physical barrier. The elephants won‘t be caught unawares upon coming close to the wells. The only purpose of installing the wooden fence is allowing the animal to use its intelligence by identifying the object,” the forest officer said.

In the Athmalik division itself, a two-year-old elephant calf had fallen into an abandoned well in October last year and died. The villagers had spotted the calf 24 hours after it fell in the well.

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