Electric Shepherds and Solar Plant to Protect Yeghegis Community from Grizzly Bears and Offset Damage Caused

Electric Shepherds and Solar Plant to Protect Yeghegis Community from Grizzly Bears and Offset Damage Caused

On September 2023, 6 electric shepherds were handed over to Yeghegis consolidated community, Vayots Dzor Region, which will protect the villagers and their farms, beehives and gardens, from the attacks of grizzly bears.

Photo Credit: Yeghegis residents

Electric shepherds, out of which three are equipped with solar systems, will be installed in Shatin and Hermon settlements. The equipment was provided to the community within the framework of "Promotion of Eco-Corridors in the South Caucasus" project implemented by WWF-Armenia.

With the support of another project "Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia" (LILA) implemented by WWF-Armenia, a 40-kilowatt solar plant will be installed in the community, and the money saved thanks to the electricity generated by it will be used to offset the damage caused by bears to the villagers. In addition to the stationary plant, the community has received 5 more two-kilowatt mobile hybrid solar plants, which will be used as needed in the community and remote-area pastures.

Armen Shahbazyan, National Coordinator of "Promotion of Eco-Corridors in the South Caucasus" program, noted that human-wild animal conflicts may occur during the implementation of environmental measures. One solution is to provide electric shepherd. It frightens bears with electricity, does not harm either bear, people or children. This can prevent bears from attacking villagers' property. It can be used even in the pasture," he outlined.

Deputy Regional Director of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Mr. Werner Thut said, “Much of our work in Armenia boils down to the three interrelated goals, namely protecting nature and beautiful landscapes, sustainable use of land, pastures, forests and water, and creating new opportunities for people and communities. This requires communities and local residents to use natural resources without damaging or destroying them. A balance is needed between wildlife protection, electricity generation and consumption".

WWF Armenia Director Karen Manvelyan noted, “The Ecocorridor project is one of Armenia's strategic documents. The main goal is that specially protected areas are connected to each other through this eco-corridor, animals can move from one area to another more safely. Another goal is to make land use more environmentally sound by communities. That's why we are developing pasture management plans for the community.

After the document signing ceremony, the participants visited Shatin settlement, where the transfer of solar plants and electric shepherds to the community was carried out.

It should be mentioned that The regional program on "Promotion of Eco-Corridors in the South Caucasus" was launched in 2015. In Armenia it is implemented through the efforts of the World Wide Fund for Nature, Armenian office (WWF-Armenia) and the RA Ministry of Environment and is financed by the German government through the KfW Development Bank.

During the first phase of the project, the habitats and migration routes of the target animals: Caucasian leopard, Armenian mouflon, Bezoar goat and brown bear were mapped and inventory of the animals was carried out.  Furthermore, community conserved areas with a total area of about 37,000 ha were established by the target communities, and 12 community rangers were selected to carry out wildlife monitoring and conservation. They underwent special training, while they were equipped with off-road vehicles, equipment, uniforms and other necessary items. In addition, office conditions have been created for the employees.

The second phase of the project, with a budget of 2.5 million euros, was launched on February 1, 2022, to include new rural settlements in Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Lori and Tavush. Previously signed conservation agreements will be extended until 2028. Through the efforts of the second phase of the project, another 40,000 ha of Community conserved areas will be established, and new community rangers will be selected to help implement environmental measures. In parallel, works to improve the socio-economic conditions of the target settlements will be carried out in the fields of eco-tourism, wild harvesting and animal husbandry.

Yeghegis community has already participated in the first phase of the project, with community conserved area established in the Horse village. Within the framework of the second phase, 2 more settlements (Shatin and Hermon) will be added to the project. As a resultthe new community conserved zone will expand to 2800 ha. Around 222,000 euros will be provided by WWF not only for environmental purposes, but also for socio-economic development of all the settlements involved in the program.

The second phase is co-financed by "Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia" (LILA) project funded by the Swiss government through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), contributing to the livelihood of the local population through the development of ecotourism, wild harvesting and animal husbandry in the same target areas. The project will also contribute to the development of appropriate agricultural and biodiversity policies at different government levels, as well as to strengthening the resilience of communities and ecosystems to the effects of climate change. As part of "Living Landscapes in Armenia for Market Development" project, solar plants are being handed over to the Yeghegis community and pasture management plans are being developed.

"Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia" project is funded by the Swiss Government through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This project is implemented by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Armenia) and the Strategic Development Agency (SDA) NGO.

September 28, 2023 at 10:54

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