COIMBATORE: Drones are to be deployed to monitor the movement of wild elephants near the railway track in Madukkarai forest range in Coimbatore. The Tamil Nadu forest department plans to launch tethered drones with the help of the Tamil Nadu Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Corporation.
The officials from the Corporation demonstrated the functioning of a tethered drone during the inauguration of AI-based cameras at Pudupathi in Madukkarai forest range on Friday.
Additional Chief Secretary Environment Climate Change and Forest Government of Tamil Nadu Supriya Sahu said that they have identified a small dark area between railway line A and B which is difficult to cover using AI-based cameras. A drone will be hovering in the area round the clock. Its battery and power connections will be near the ground adjacent to the track.
Currently, a study is underway and we are planning to launch the drone facility within the next four months for monitoring animal movements, the officer said while speaking to the mediapersons at Pudupathi. Gaur, spotted deer and wild elephants often cross the railway tracks as they move from one part of the forest to another.
Monitoring by drones will help prevent elephants, gaur and spotted deer from being run over by train, she added. (A tethered drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle tethered to the ground. It consists of a base station on the ground and the drone, which is connected to the station through the tether. The drone can be operated remotely to perform specific tasks.)
Meanwhile, the forest department is holding discussions to arrive at a solution to stop a mother elephant and its calf from repeatedly entering into human habitations. We will arrive at a decision soon after consultation with the experts, she said.
The high-ranking officer also spoke about frequent incursions of wild elephants into human settlements.
“During our study we found that animals are attracted by water sources in fringe areas. The spread of invasive species inside the forest also forces the elephants to move out. We are planning to create water bodies inside the core areas to help them to quench their thirst apart from removing invasive species which is restricting food sources,” Sahu explained.“
The CM has sanctioned Rs 52 crore for the modernisation of the forest force by which more anti-poaching camps would be set up and more Anti-Poaching Watchers will be inducted soon. We are also planning to set up control and command centres at five places in conflict-prone areas,” said Sahu.