Electronic eye for round-the-clock surveillance of rhinos, tigers and other animals

The Kaziranga National Park in Assam will get a remote-controlled aircraft and a satellite-based electronic eye for round-the-clock surveillance of rhinos, tigers and other animals in the park to protect them from poachers, Minister for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan announced on Wednesday during her visit to the national park. She also announced Rs. 1 crore for flood damage repair works in the park.

This would be the first time a remote-controlled aircraft would be used for surveillance of a national park in the country, said State Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain.

“We included proposals for procurement of an unmanned aircraft and the electronic eye in the Annual Plan of Operation of Kaziranga for 2012-13 and Ms. Natarajan assured us they would be provided,” he told The Hindu.

Ms. Natarjan reviewed the protection measures being implemented in the park with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Mr. Hussain, senior officials of the Environment and Forest Department and officials of the park.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Suresh Chand said remote- controlled aircraft was used in South Africa. In Nepal too it had been tried. The aircraft would capture images, which would be downloaded to computer for analysis and follow-up action. The electronic eye was used in the Corbett National Park on a pilot basis and Kaziranga would be the second national park to get the system.

The electronic eye system would cover the entire 856 square km area of the park. It consisted of infrared and night vision cameras mounted on towers and images would be transmitted through a satellite-based application system to a control room that would receive alerts whenever there was suspicious movement inside the park.

Mr. Hussain said the State government urged the Union Minister to provide additional manpower to fight poachers. It also sought assistance for the construction of 50 platforms in the park and replacement of the wooden bridges with Bailey bridges.

Bailey bridges would help eliminate the problem of rhino calves and other animals getting trapped in water hyacinth on the pillars of the wooden bridges and drowning.

Since January, 11 rhinos have been killed and dehorned by poachers, while 28 were drowned in two waves of high flood in the park.