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Solar powered device reduces human-animal conflict in India

September 14, 20223 Mins Read

Solar powered device/Malan Raut, a farmer from the western Indian state of Maharashtra, was 40 years old when she made the decision to transition to organic farming in order to cope with the effects of climate change. In her home Nagarsoga village, she cultivates vegetables, grains, and pulses on 3.5 acres of land. Three years later, though, she ran into an unforeseen issue: she was losing crops to animal assaults.

Malan said in a phone conversation with Global Voices that “herds of wild boar and deer would come onto my field at night from a neighbouring region of wildness and woods — eating away, stomping against, and ruining my crops.” She said that it generated annual losses for her family that ultimately rose to around INR 30,000–40,000 (USD 376–500).
She was forced to implant a gadget called Parabraksh in 2020 by a local nonprofit organisation in Latur called Swayam Shikshyam Prayog (which in Kannada, the language of the southern state of Karnataka, means protection from wild animals).

Animals are scared away from agricultural fields by Parabraksh’s solar-powered technology without suffering any harm. It has a 6-watt solar panel attached to a lithium-ion battery, four LED lights that blink erratically all night, and a 6-watt solar panel. To prevent the animal from trespassing into the intended area, the lights are visible from a distance of 300–500 metres (depending on the topography).

Malan put it in place at the farmland’s weakest point of entrance. She feels quite relieved today. The woman said that the method was nearly 97–98% effective because the animals no longer visited her land. Katidhan, a Bengaluru-based research and scientific innovation organisation, produces the gadget for INR 10,000 (USD 125). The organization’s leader, SR Ayan, claims that because of the device’s preset flashing patterns, animals including wild boar, nilgai, bison, elephants, tigers, and leopards are prevented from visiting the targeted locations.

The severity of the incident can be estimated based on certain government statistics, according to which the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh alone experienced crop losses over 5543 acres of land in 7589 incidents between 2017 and 2020, despite the lack of countrywide collated data on crop losses. During the same time frame, Tamil Nadu also recorded a total of 7,562 instances of wild animals invading crops.

In addition to specific coffee and banana plantation owners, three or four state forest agencies, numerous wildlife and development organisations, and more than 1000 farmers across 100 communities in 12 states, according to Ayan, this animal deterrent solar light has so far reached out to them.

In a community in Ladakh, parabraksh is being constructed outside a cow corral. Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, source of the image. With permission used.
In 2019, it was initially used to prevent snow leopards from destroying cattle in the isolated hamlet of Kesar in eastern Ladakh. The majority of the locals work as shepherds, raising sheep and mountain goats on the sloping grasslands of the Himalayas.

The locals kept close to 150–200 head of cattle collectively in communal enclosures for grazing in summer pastures, according to Jigmet Dadul from the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, who organised the installation procedure on their behalf. The predator entered these corrals at night with ease since they lacked roofs or doors, preyed on one animal while killing or wounding nearly half of the others in the attack, and then left the victims in the enclosure itself. A loss of roughly INR 200,000 resulted from this (USD 2,509).

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