Forest department tests drone to monitor elephant movement

COIMBATORE: Forest department officials on Tuesday conducted a trial flight of a drone to monitor the movement of elephants in the Coimbatore forest range. The camera-fitted drone captured the movement of an herd near Mangarai. The noise emanating from the drone helped the officials to chase the herd into the reserve forest.
The Coimbatore forest division has seven forest ranges – Madukkarai, Boluvampatti, Coimbatore, Perianaickenpalayam, Karamadai, Mettupalayam and Sirumugai. This forest division has been reporting more man-animal conflicts. To prevent such conflicts and monitor elephant movement, the state government allotted a drone worth Rs 5 lakh to the Coimbatore forest division; it arrived two weeks ago.

The drone was tested from a patta land near the forest boundary in Mangarai. “More than nine officials from the Coimbatore forest division will be trained to operate the drone. So far, we have received only one drone and it will be used based on the needs in the forest ranges. It will help to monitor the movement of wild animals,” said D Venkatesh, district forest officer, Coimbatore forest division.

Deepak Srivastava, chief conservator of forests, Coimbatore circle, told newspersons that the Coimbatore forest division had reported several man-animal conflicts and the department had been taking stringent steps to prevent such conflicts.

“We can monitor the movement of all type of animals in the forest and can monitor the forest also. We would use the drone to monitor and chase elephants back into the forest. If this method succeeds, we will use the drone whenever needed,” said Srivastava.

He said the drone was being first used for this purpose in the state in the Coimbatore forest division.

“If wild elephants are disturbing the livelihood of the people, then we will take steps to shift elephants from one place to another or will send them to elephant camps after getting permission from higher officials,” he said.

In March 2017, the forest department tested a drone for at least an hour in Solakkarai forest beat in the Madukkarai forest range.

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