NEW DELHI: After six months of successful trials, drones will soon be deployed in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve to keep an eye on the dwindling population of tigers. It will be for the first time that the country will deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for wildlife research and management.
The Wildlife Institute of Indian (WII), Dehradun, and a US-based company Conservation Drones, since January were holding trials at Panna, the final results of which have been satisfactory. Initially, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTAC) plans to use drones in Panna and based on the results, will replicate the same in other reserves.
The trials were held using an assembled drone worth Rs 6 lakh. Experts from Conservation Drones Lian Pin Koh and Simon Wunderlin were in Panna to demonstrate the working and training the officials.
According to WII scientists, the country is now in a position to deploy UAVs for wildlife research and management. “It has been excellent initiative and sets an important milestone in the history of wildlife conservation. During June 26-30, independent missions were successfully carried out by our team. We shall be working towards deploying UAVs in selected sites and will continue work on improvisation to make the technological integration robust,” said K Ramesh, UAV Programme Coordinator, WII.
He said deployment and integration of drones would be taken up indigenously, while research and development would continue with national and international partners.
Drones can help the forest officials get updates from the dense forest areas as they have a receiver system that can penetrate into a canopy of trees, he said.
There are 47 tiger reserves in the country.