Night duty on Chaukul’s farms

PARI volunteer Sanket Jain aims to traverse 300 villages across India and, among other stories, produce this feature: a photograph of a rural scene or event and a sketch of that photograph. This is the second in the series on PARI. Draw the slider either way to see the photo or sketch in full

It seems an idyllic picture, a tree house in the fields. In reality, a painful routine during the agricultural season in Chaukul village of Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district. Here -  and in several other parts of the country – farmers must spend night after night on such an elevated structure – a machan – or some other equally fragile perch on their fields. The reason: to shoo off wild animals, from boars to elephants, that come foraging through the crops at night.

Chaukul, a small village of less than 1,300 people in Sawantwadi block, has had tough encounters with wildlife. Guarding the crop is not simple. The family member who perch up there must stay awake much of the night. And there have been instances in this region where a machan -based guard has lost his life in the conflict between animals and humans.

Sanket Jain

Sanket Jain is a journalist based in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. He is a 2022 PARI Senior Fellow and a 2019 PARI Fellow.

Other stories by Sanket Jain