India plans to use drones to track tigers and check encroachers in Sundarbans
To track the movement of tigers and encroachers in protected forest areas, a drone would soon be flying in the Sundarban delta. “Sitting at one point we would be able to scan a forest area of 15-20 sq km. It will be a force multiplier for us as we would be able to track movements with limited staff”, Sundarban Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Vyas told PTI. Besides tracking the movements of a tiger which needs medical attention or is a threat to the nearby village population, the drone can also help in catching any encroacher in the protected areas.
“A boat is needed for anyone to reach the forests and the drone can see where a boat is parked. Man can hide inside the dense forest but his boat cannot hide. So with a drone we would be able to know which part of the forest the intruder has entered”, Vyas said. The West Bengal forest department, he said, has decided to buy a drone, the price of which could be in the range of Rs 20-30 lakh.
Fitted with GPS device and hi-resolution cameras, drones are fast becoming a necessary hi-tech tool in wildlife management. “We will buy it from some specialised agency which will also train our staff in using it. We are looking for a product which is waterproof and can also float if it accidentally hits the creeks”, the official said. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Sundarbans is divided by a complex network of streams, rivers, tidal creeks and channels. The Sundarbans archipelago, comprising over 100 islands, is home to 76 tigers according to the last Census. The design and features of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) would be customised to suit the requirements of the topography of Sundarbans.
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