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Augmenting Eco-Restoration Work at Navadarshanam

By ananthu at July 7, 2004 12:46 AM

Navadarshanam is a Public Charitable Trust wherein eco-restoration work has been carried out for the last 13 years. As a result of the work done by this Trust, much of the 115 acres of degraded land is being converted into a natural forest. Where there were only three trees, more than 20,000 trees have made their appearance. As a result, soil conditions have improved dramatically and water table has improved. Many medicinal plants have appeared on their own. A wide variety of birds have made it their home as also some deer, wild boars and other small animals.

But as more and more trees appear, there is also a temptation for some persons to come in and cut them. This is particularly applicable to the sandalwood trees that are making their appearance in very large numbers – at least 5,000. The Trust has erected a barbed wire fence to protect these trees, but this fence is getting breached every time an elephant passes through the land – and elephants are a frequent phenomenon here. Once the elephant has passed through and the fence is breached, it is very easy for the poachers to do their work.

On one-fourth of this land—primarily the part used for living and farming—an electric fence operated by solar power has been erected some five years ago, to deal with this problem effectively. This electric fence is powered by a single 12-volt battery—charged by solar panels--with a fence energiser for the battery power to be converted into high-voltage, low-amperage pulses. Because of the high voltage, the elephant feels a jolt whenever it comes in contact with this fence, but because the amperage is very low (only a few mili-amps), the current passing through its body does it no harm. So, this is a very non-violent way of keeping the elephant from doing damage to the fence.

The Trust now needs to extend this fence to the rest of the land so that the eco-restoration process may continue unhampered. As the total costs of doing so are very high, the Trust has consulted experts in this field, who have suggested a combination of barbed and electric fencing all along the outer periphery of about 3.5 kilometers in such a way that minimum amount of electric fencing is required. But the cost of even this less expensive version is estimated to be around Rs.2 lakhs. The Trust is on the lookout for donations from charitable organizations interested in supporting this effort at eco-restoration.

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