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Last Updated: May 15, 2007 - 2:05:15 AM
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How to keep rampaging elephants at bay
Feb 11, 2007 - 8:17:42 AM
To keep the tuskers away, the villagers have to arm themselves with sticks, sharp-edged weapons, light fires and beat drums during at night.

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[RxPG] Ranchi, Feb 11 - Farmers in Jharkhand are now keeping in mind the tastes of elephants while sowing crops to prevent the tuskers from rampaging their fields and killing people.

In the last few years, the farmers have come to know the likes and dislikes of elephants that regularly enter the villages, damage standing crops and kill people too. They now prefer not to sow rabi - crops.

'This year we have sown crops taking into account the taste of elephants. And we hope that our experiment will save us from the tuskers,' said Phool Kumar, a farmer of Ranchi's Torpa block.

He said: 'The elephants dislike mustard oil seeds. They like paddy and venture into our fields and damage the standing crops.'

The farmers also plan to grow vegetables that are not liked by the pachyderms.

'This year I will grow vegetables like pumpkin, radish, bitter gourd that the animals don't like,' said Sohan Mahto of Khuti block.

The rampaging elephants are known to like the taste of paddy and mahua -. The farmers were often forced to use cow dung on granaries to hide the smell of food grains to keep away the elephants.

The experiment began last year and according to forest department officials, it has definitely helped the villagers. The mustard oil seeds distracted the elephants and they changed their route in search of paddy and other food grains they like.

In the last five years, over 330 people have been trampled to death by the large animals. The worst affected districts are Ranchi, Dumka, Pakur, Godda and Jamshedpur. The shrinking forest cover and encroachment of the elephant corridor are seen as the main cause of the confrontation between human beings and elephants.

To keep the tuskers away, the villagers have to arm themselves with sticks, sharp-edged weapons, light fires and beat drums during at night.

Several measures adopted by the forest department have not yielded results. Earlier, trained tuskers were called from Assam to tame the rampaging elephants but the results were not encouraging. The department is now mulling solar fencing to keep the elephants away from areas habited by humans.

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