Marauding monkeys have been a perennial concern for successive state governments that have devised various strategies from setting up primate parks to sterilizing the simians to resolve the problem, all of which have proved to be unsuccessful. That is, until scientists at the University of Horticulture & Forestry at Solan came up with a seemingly surefire solution - a solar powered electric fence to protect fields of farmers, scores of whom have been forced to abandon their farmlands due to the menace.
Two years ago the experimental farm of the varsity's fruit science department was fenced in with a 1,725 metre solar powered electric barbed wires to ward off wild animals.
"Over the years setting up new stonefruit plantations in mid altitude areas of the state has become increasing problematic besides being more expensive due to the menace of monkeys and wild animals. Ever since the experimental farm was fenced not a single monkey has been sighted in the area.
Earlier four people were stationed there round the clock to protect the orchards from monkeys, porcupines and wild boars. The solar powered fence has helped the university to raise more than 2,000 plants of different stonefruits. The fence has proved to be highly effective in keeping marauding monkeys away besides being cost effective, "the varsity's vice chancellor, Vijay Singh Thakur, told this reporter.
The state agriculture department has now drawn up plans to erect similar solar powered electric fences to protect its farms located in the state. "Such fences are very effective in warding off wild animals. We've earmarked Rs 64 lakh for setting them up in four different farmlands," additional chief secretary (agriculture) Upma Chawdhary said.
A study conducted two years ago by an NGO, Gyan Vigyan Samiti, found about 2,301 villages had been affected by the wild animal menace, causing losses of Rs 400 crore to Rs 500 crore every year.
According to a census conducted in 2004 the population of monkeys in the state was 317,112 but the figure dropped to 226,086 in the last census held in 2012.