Drones Helping in Tiger Conservation Efforts in India

With the population of wild tigers currently at around 3,500, it is clear why there is a need for the Indian government to come up with ways to boost conservation to help increase the population of these endangered animals.  Following a successful pilot program conducted on International Tiger Day in July, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve will soon be under complete surveillance using drones, the Reserve’s field director Ramesh Pandey announced recently.

Work on the surveillance program, which is called the “e-bird project”, has already began. During the pilot operation on International Tiger Day, drones were used to monitor the rhinos in the rehabilitation area. According to Pandey, they were able to find and monitor all the rhinos in the rehabilitation area within just 30 minutes. They also managed to keep a close watch on the animals without bothering them.

The e-bird project was jointly initiated by the reserve and the Wildlife Institute of India. The institute will provide the required number of drones and also provide training to the staff on how to use them. When used effectively, the drones will help patrol teams to keep an eye on the movement of tigers, rhinos, leopards, among other wild animals. They will also help in searching for criminal activities such as poachers.

Monitoring the tigers has always been a major challenge. The rough terrain, numerous small canals, and bodies of water make it hard for the staff to effectively monitor the entire forest on land. The presence of dangerous animals in the forest also makes it risky for staffers to explore most parts of the forest. As such, surveillance of the animals using traditional methods was time consuming, required lots of staff, and was dangerous.

Using drones, it takes just a few minutes to scan all parts of the forests to locate the animal. This allows the researchers to observe the animals without them knowing and without risking the safety of any staff members. Other parts of the world can also use drones in various animal conservation efforts. For instance, in Africa, there has always been a problem of poachers killing elephants and rhinos just for their tusks.  Drones can come in handy in such places to help detect and capture poachers before they get a chance to hurt the animals.

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