: The Periyar and Parambikulam tiger reserves and the Eravikulam National Park are planning to procure conservation drones to step up their conservation drive.
While the Periyar reserve will get one drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) at a cost of Rs.25 lakh, the Parambikulam reserve hopes to get three such aerial vehicles. This is the first time the managers of three protected areas have decided to go in for conservation drones.
Apprehension about Maoists using their territory also seems to have influenced the Periyar managers to go in for e-eye technology, electronic surveillance cameras that can scan 360 degrees.
The Periyar reserve has included the suggestion in its proposals for “strengthening modernisation process and upgrading implementation and management effectiveness” during 2015-16.”
According to its project proposal, “since Periyar shares an interstate boundary of around 90 km and the adjacent landscapes on both sides are undulating and inaccessible, the possibility of the presence of Maoist groups is high.
“We can use the e-eye technology in a befitting manner to curb the aforesaid menace,” it said.
The e-eye technology can be used to track animal and human movements. It also has short-range infrared night vision camera stations, long-range thermal camera stations, remotely-operated cameras, and Wi-max devices, it said.
O.P. Kaler, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, said the Periyar and Parambikulam Tiger Conservation Foundations would move ahead with the proposal for procurement of drones.
The two reserves together had received an additional Central support of Rs.4 crore last year, which can be used to procure the gadgets, he said.
According to Sanjayankumar, Deputy Director, Periyar Tiger Reserve, drones can be effectively used for conservation activities and to monitor parts of the reserve. Illegal entry of persons into the protected areas and movement of animals can be monitored.
Enforcement activities of the reserve are mostly by foot patrolling and it would take much time to cover the inaccessible and non-motorable areas, he said.
Presence of canopy may prove obstructive in some parts. However, it could be effectively used in other parts of the reserve, he said
A proposal to procure satellite imagery of 6,000 sq km of the southern Western Ghats at a cost of Rs.60 lakh has also been mooted.
The wish-list of the Periyar tiger reserve also includes thirty night-vision binoculars and two all-terrain vehicles.