Bengaluru: The Karnataka Forest Department is planning to deploy drone cameras in its tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries to keep an eye on poachers and to study the movement of wild animals.
Karnataka shares its forest areas with Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra and there have been many instances of poachers entering from the neighbouring states.
The forest department has a tight security in place, including patrolling on foot by forest guards and watchers, but poachers still manage to find their way into the forests through porous borders and kill wild animals.
After the hunt, the poachers cross the borders, making it difficult for state forest officials to arrest them.
To step up vigil in some of the best protected forests in the country, the department is planning to procure at least six drone cameras for tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Ravi Ralph told Deccan Chronicle.
He said that the department is planning to use the drones mainly in Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Bhadra-Anshi National Park, BRT Sanctuary, Kudremukh National Park and other wildlife areas.
The drones will be more useful in tiger reserves where poachers make repeated attempts to shoot the big cat. Karnataka has the highest number of tigers in the country and it requires constant monitoring by department staff.
Mr Ralph said that though they may require over a dozen drones, in the first phase they are planning to buy six. The drones can also be used to keep track of animals straying out of the forests, he said.
Mr Ralph said that there is no dearth of funds to buy the unmanned aerial vehicles and that the tenders will be floated soon. Over the next few months, all the forests in the state will be covered by drones, he said.
Recently, drones were tested successfully at the Panna Tiger Reserve and Kaziranga Forest. A drone can be put on autopilot mode and sent as far as 40-50 km deep into the forest where it can record images and videos and transmit them on a real-time basis. Its movement can also be controlled through a GPS-based system.
The Bengaluru police used this surveillance system to monitor crowds on M.G. Road and Brigade Road during the New Year’s Eve....