Tamil Nadu to use drones to track movements of elephants

This is to prevent frequent human-animal conflicts in places like Coimbatore and other districts close to wildlife sanctuaries.

man-elephant conflict, Lockdown, Corbett National Park, elephants,
Drones were first used a few years back in the Krishnagiri forest, where elephants entered villages and damaged crops and houses | Photo: iStock

The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has purchased five drones to track movements of elephants in various sanctuaries in the state. This is to prevent frequent human-animal conflicts in places like Coimbatore and other districts close to the sanctuaries.

The department has started to use the drones to alert the public about the movement of elephants.

“The Forest Department has five drones and these are used in Mudumalai, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve as well as in Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. We have started using them more frequently and meaningfully,” said Forest Department secretary Supriya Sahu.

“The Forest Department is using its own drones to monitor elephant movements during the day to keep a check on conflict situations and give timely alerts to people nearby,” said the secretary, sharing a video of a drone showing the movements of elephants in Twitter.

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TN Forest Department is using its own drones to monitor elephant movements during the day to keep a check on conflict situations & give timely alerts to people nearby. Here is a stunning drone footage of an elephant family in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. Video #TNForest #elephants pic.twitter.com/9JrzdSSfOe

— Supriya Sahu IAS (@supriyasahuias) September 1, 2021

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), were first used a few years back in the Krishnagiri forest, where elephants entered villages and damaged crops and houses.

“Drones were tested in the forest regions in Denkannikottai taluk of Krishnagiri during a training session held for the staff about using the device and collecting information from the drone,” said a Range Officer in the area.

According to the Forest Department staff, Tamil Nadu is the second state after Uttarakhand to get drones given by the Union Environment and Forest Ministry for real-time monitoring of wild animals and other activities.

The department also has a new use for the drones, which can be used to scare wild animals, including jumbos that move out of the forest for some reason. The sound of the drone is similar to the buzz of a honey bee, which scares wild animals.

Also read: Drones can fly on five forms, lower fee as Centre amends rules

“The drones will also prevent elephants coming near the railway lines and at times being hit by trains. Such accidents have happened in the past when elephants were killed while they were crossing railway lines along the Palakkad Pass,” said the official.

The Forest Department hopes that with more drones being made available in the coming months, it will be able to prevent human-animal conflicts frequently.

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