Conservation Drones to be used to monitoring Tigers

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun plan to use drones to monitor tiger population in the reserves. The conservation drones would map select tiger reserves in the country. Conservation drones will soon hover over select tiger reserves of the country, marking the beginning of significant technological intervention in wildlife conservation. Apart from monitoring the tiger population, the drones would collect and transmit visual data on animal movements, poaching activities and forest fires from the inaccessible areas of the forest.Though intended primarily for the monitoring of tiger population in the reserves, the unmanned aircraft would collect and transmit visual data on animal movements, poaching activities and instances of forest fire from inaccessible forest terrains on a real-time basis. The drones could be used for the management of habitats and species. In April 2013, the test flight of a small aircraft, Maja, was undertaken in Kaziranga Tiger Reserve. Later, in January 2014, three other drones were tested in Panna Tiger Reserve, where WII has initiated a long-term tiger reintroduction and monitoring project. According to V.B. Mathur, Director of WII, the drones have programmable auto-pilot and telemetry systems that are capable of recording information and doing its live transmission. He further continued by saying that the use of drones could also make night patrolling of forest terrains, radio-tracking of animals and habitat monitoring possible. Mathur also added that while deployment and data collection would be carried out by a team of trained professionals working with the Wildlife Institute of India and the State Forest Departments, the research and development activities for further improvisation of the technology for various purposes would be continued in collaboration with national and international organisations.

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