Bandipur Tiger Reserve will shortly get what is billed as the country’s first eco-friendly anti-poaching camp with renewable energy and sustainable technologies complete with solar energy and rainwater harvesting system.

A pilot project of the anti-poaching camp has been constructed at Avarepura camp in Moleyur range of Bandipur and will be handed over to the Forest Department in the next few days.

The pilot project, Araynyaka, is supported by the Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST) at the National Institute of Engineering, Wildlife Conservation Trust, Voice for Wildlife Trust and the Forest Department. It has been implemented at an estimated cost of Rs. 8.8 lakh.

S. Shamsundar, Director, NIE-CREST, told The Hindu that the existing camps at Bandipur were not suitable for prolonged stay and hence, a pilot project has been taken up with the use of renewable energy systems.

The design and the implementation part has been taken up by NIE-CREST and the structure entailed using stabilised mud blocks which obviated the use of burning firewood to dry bricks. The use of stabilised mud blocks also provide good thermal comfort, Prof. Shamsundar said.

The stabilised mud blocks were prepared on site at Moleyur using local soil mixed with 9 per cent cement, and unlike traditional clay bricks, these blocks need not be burned for drying but just needed curing for 21 days, he added.

Water being a critical requirement in the jungles, the anti-poaching camp has been provided with a rainwater harvesting system with a storage capacity of 9,000 litres.

He explained that given the annual average rainfall at Bandipur, the yield through rainwater harvesting technique is nearly 43,000 litres of water per year and hence, there will be assured water availability for almost eight months in the camp.

The solar energy system to be installed in the camp will suffice for lighting the camp as also recharging wireless sets. He said that the incorporation of these technologies fulfilled the energy and water needs of the camp to a large extent and helps in conservation of wood and water. The building will also have fuel-efficient biomass cook stove which will provide for smokeless cooking.

Sudheer of the Voice for Wildlife Trust said that the project was significant from the enforcement point of view as it will be a self-sustaining anti-poaching camp with its own source and supply of water and power.

“In many of the anti-poaching camps, water is physically supplied and if it is not done, they have to walk at least 3 km to bring water to the camps. We are creating water security and a self-sustaining environment, smoke-free cooking environment, sanitation, security and comfort for the anti-poaching camp staff engaged in the crucial task of wildlife protection,” Mr. Sudheer said.

B.G. Hosmath, Field Director, Project Tiger, said that the camp was likely to be handed over to the Forest Department in a few days and once transferred, its efficacy and feasibility would be studied for a few months. “It is only after ascertaining its feasibility and the performance of the technology that the Forest Department could think of replicating such camps in other places,” he added.