Kozhikode: In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department (KFWD) has proposed a new ‘advanced detection system’ to be installed in three zones in Kerala as a measure to tackle the crisis that arises out of the conflict posed by wild elephants. The new proposal to install the system is mentioned in a comprehensive study report submitted by KFWD before the chief minister of Kerala. The intention behind the study was to find a permanent solution to end the human-wildlife conflict.
The project, which costs rupees one crore, has been termed by the officials as a permanent solution to the burgeoning threat posed by wild elephants. Hundreds of people across the state have lost lives in wild elephant attacks with the latest one in the series last month that claimed the life of a woman in Idukki. According to the available data, as many as 40 people lost lives over a period of 11 years due to wild elephant attacks in Idukki district alone.
In the year 2020, 20 people were killed in wild elephant attacks across the state and 15 in 2019. Whereas, 113 wild elephant deaths have also been reported in Kerala forests in the year 2020. Of which 11 deaths were unnatural- electrocution, shooting or through explosives - where human being played a direct role.
The new ‘advanced detection system’ is planned to be installed in three zones in Kerala; Munnnar in Idukki, Aralam in Kannur and Walayar in Palakkad. It will have seismic sensors and thermal cameras, that work on infrared rays, to detect wild elephants. By censoring the vibrations on earth, caused due to animal movements, with seismic cameras and temperature of the body of animals with thermal scanners, the system traces the presence of animals. It can detect slightest animal movements in two-kilometre radius. Once animal’s presence is known, alerts will be sent to all in the vicinity; so as to stay away.
Coimbatore-Palakkad rail route passes through Walayar and the new system will be helpful in alerting loco pilots as well to avoid collisions.
At present, this system is available only in Uttarakhand Rajaji Tiger Reserve. It was implemented there to warn loco pilots on animal movement near railway tracks. The system was developed by Chandigarh-based Central Scientific Instrumentation Research Organisation and launched in collaboration with the Union Forest Ministry and Wildlife Institute of India.
“The report in this regard has been submitted before the Chief Minister of Kerala and is under consideration. Once approved, a detailed study has to be conducted on its feasibility and potential. Final implementation will be only on the basis of it,” said an official of the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department.