Drones to keep track of wildlife on railway tracks
In order to prevent wildlife fatalities in mishaps on railway tracks, the forest department will deploy drones to keep an eye on the movement of wild animals along railway tracks. In the first phase, the forest department will introduce the drone surveillance in the Lalkuan-Pantnagar area frequented by elephants, tigers and leopards.
Providing this information, the conservator of forests, western circle, Parag Madhukar Dhakate said that in the past few years elephants and other wild animals have been hit or crushed fatally by trains plying on railway tracks passing through jungle areas. To mitigate such mishaps, the forest department is for the first time about to put drones to use for keeping an eye on the tracks. Dhakate informed that the department has chosen the Kashipr-Hempur railway track, Lalkuan-Haldi track and Khatima-Banbasa elephant corridor to keep an eye on wildlife movement. Three drones will be put to use for this purpose. On the Lalkuan-Haldi track, about half an hour before a train is scheduled to pass, a drone will be used to monitor a seven kilometre stretch. In case there is any movement of wild animals on or along the track, the drone operator will inform the railway official concerned who will also inform the locomotive pilot about the same. At the same time, the department will move the elephants or other wild animals away from the track. The forest department plans to hold a workshop soon with the railways on this system.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the Terai central forest division during the past few years there have been a number of incidents in which elephants, leopards and other wild animals have been killed by trains on the Lalkuan-Kashipur railway line. This railway line also passes through an important elephant corridor. With rising concern for wildlife deaths on the railway line, Dhakate took serious cognisance and decided to put drone to use to keep an eye on wildlife movements.
According to information provided by sources, between 2010 and 2017, four elephants, one tiger and a number of leopards and other wild animals have been killed in accidents on this railway track.
The forest department believes that using the drones will help in improving the security for wild animals.
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