Centre plans to deploy drones to check tiger poaching

UAVs to give real-time information on movement of poachers

Centre plans to deploy drones to check tiger poaching

The Centre plans to use drones to keep an eye on poachers in the 40-odd tiger reserves in the  country.

A detailed project report is underway at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, to monitor tiger-bearing forests using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

“Since the poaching of tigers has become an issue of concern, introduction of e-surveillance by drones would be strategic intervention for the preservation of tiger population,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said here on Wednesday at a meeting of Chief Wildlife Wardens of tiger range states and field directors of tiger reserves.

The WII team and the Ministry of Environment and Forest were buoyed by the success in the pilot project in Panna tiger reserve last year. The UAVs, capable of taking still pictures and video, were tested on an experimental basis at Kaziranga too.

Equipped with GPS
The GPS-controlled drones can fly at a speed of 40 km per hour and can be work on autopilot mode to fly as far as 40 km deep into the forest, where they can record
images and videos and transmit them instantly to the control tower.

“We are preparing the detailed project report, which would be submitted to the Environment Ministry. We hope to start the UAV project this year after obtaining the Director General of Civil Aviation approval,” WII scientist K Ramesh, who is coordi-nating the project, told Deccan Herald.

The UAVs would be useful in getting real-time information on poacher movements in a remote corner of the forest. “Poaching is on the rise because people are greedy. We have to keep tabs on this. More than 73 tigers were killed in the last one year. It is a huge figure,” Javadekar said.

As per the latest tiger census, India’s big cat count has gone up by 30 per cent. India is estimated to have 2,226 tigers in the wild, with 1,945 and 2,491 as the lower and upper limits respectively.

Along the lines of the tiger task force formed by some of the states, Javadekar proposed to set up a special protection force for rhinoceros. There were 23 cases of rhino poaching last year. Each rhino horn fetches Rs 1 crore in the international market.

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