Monday, 26 May 2008

Elephants damage crops in Sipsu

25 May, 2008 - Even as this article was being written late last evening, a group of six elephants entered a maize field in lower Hungay, Sipsu, as farmers helplessly watched from a safe distance. It was raining heavily.

This week alone, marauding elephants from across the border destroyed more than 17 acres of maize plants, a few acres of ginger in the villages of Hungay and Peljorling in Sipsu.

According to farmers of the two villages, such damage happens every year and, despite measures to scare the elephants like solar fencing producing electric current, stopping the 600-pound beasts was near impossible.

Last year, Samtse dzongkhag officials fenced a total length of about six kilometres, but farmers said that the solar fencings were stolen from time to time.

Pushalal Sharma, a farmer from Hungay, told Kuensel that the recent attack on the night of May 20 destroyed two acres of maize and ginger fields. “If elephants continue to come, next year we’ll not plant crops any more. Our hardship and efforts are going in vain”, he said.

Another farmer from lower Hungay, Gauri Shankar, who cultivated maize, ginger and bamboo over an area of 1.50 acre, said that all his crops were totally destroyed. “Last year, I could at least get around 2 quintals of maize from the total 10 quintal production, but this year nothing is left,” he said.

Phuntsho Wangdi, another farmer, said that sometimes they felt like killing the elephants. Most farmers have approached the gup to come up with an effective measure to stop future damage.

Wild elephants mostly attack during the night. Some farmers even tried chasing them away by using firecrackers but it worked only against the young ones, according to farmers.

Dzongkhags officials, as well as farmer,s believe that the elephants trespassed mainly because of poaching and destruction of their habitat across the border making them seek refuge. “We believe that elephants attack only when their natural habitat is disturbed but no one has a clear idea”, said a dzongkhag official.

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