Bhaskar Singh, 80, a resident of Baghuapat village in Angul district of Odisha, never forgets to turn on his solar-powered lights as soon as the sun sets.
Located on the fringes of the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, the small village of about 35 families uses solar-powered lights and electric fences to fend off wild elephants, which used to destroy their crops.
Accessible only by a four-km-long serpentine forest road, the village, which is yet to be electrified, had been struggling to deal with wild elephants. That is, until they discovered that lights kept them away.
“Encountering wild elephant is a routine affair for us. It is difficult to drive their herds away. The best option was to stay away from the animals. The lights have become our only defence against the elephants,” said Tilottama, his wife.
The village was introduced to solar lights by the Foundation for Ecological Society (FES), an Angul-based NGO, and TERI, a non-profit research organisation. The outfits provided solar panels and lights using the corporate social responsibility fund of NTPC.
Their idea was to light up the houses of Baghuapat, but they never dreamed that the lights could be used as a shield against elephants.