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Hi-tech tiger protection on the anvil

                                                                                                                                            The Pioneer, New Delhi, 2nd April, 2015

Hi-tech tiger protection is on the anvil in the country’s reserves. Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will soon submit a report to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Environment Ministry during the first week of April to start use of drones in tiger reserves. This aims at increasing vigilance in reserves, that will particularly help those with difficult landscapes. It will bring down the dependency on manual patrolling and enhance the scope of vigilance.

According to K Ramesh, Scientist & UAV Programme Coordinator WII, use of drones has been successfully tested in Panna Tiger Reserve last year. He added that the first report had already been submitted to the Ministry last week bearing details of the pilot project conducted in Panna for keeping an eye on tigers. A similar report has also been submitted to the NTCA that is looking into the whole project as it has the details of all tiger projects, its territory, and difficulty of the terrain.

The drones are ideal for difficult terrains. Ramesh explained: “The terrain is very difficult in certain tiger reserves as for example the Sahyadris . It has  no easy approach roads and consists of hills and mountains. At such places drones will maintain a good watch. Apart from poaching, drones will also help to track  the movements of invaders as well as animals that can be captured for various actions/ reasons. If the cameras spot movement of wild animals towards a human habitat or if they are shifting their base for some period, it will be useful for generating some alerts for academic as well as analytical purpose.

Prior to the operationalisation of the drones, national workshop will be organized so that the guidelines and framework can be defined. The drones were first used from June 2013 to June 2014 in Panna with permission from the Defence Ministry. According to  Ramesh, it had brought down the cost of data collection and also increased accuracy, speed of data generation and submission, substantiated with supporting photographs and mapping of tracks.