THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It is not just the overworked captive elephants that are busy killing humans. Wild elephants, too, are. Between April 2017 and March this year, 17 humans, most of them tribals and farmers dwelling along the fringes, were killed by wild elephants. Acknowledging the danger, the Forest Department has decided to extend the SMS alert system now in place in Wayanad and Munnar to all forest divisions across the state. Radio collaring of rogue wild elephants is also being seriously considered.
“The SMS Alert is functioning efficiently in Wayanad and Munnar,” a top Forest Department official said. “Whenever a field officer gets a tip off about an incursion by a wild elephant or tiger, a bulk SMS is promptly sent to farmers,” he added. The mobile numbers of farmers have been collected and stored for the purpose. The Forest Department had provided mobile phones to farmers who were unable to purchase one.
“The alert allows farmers to take precautionary measures like making noises to beat the wild animal back. Forest officials, too, will rush to the spot by the time,” the official said. Forest minister K Raju said that forest wireless system would be strengthened to monitor the movement of wild elephants and to share real-time information among concerned divisions. "The Department has also been instructed to purchase necessary radio collars to monitor problematic wild elephants. In fact, steps have already been initiated," the minister said.
A mobile App, called Wild Watch, to mitigate man-animal conflict has also been developed. The app was deployed on an experimental basis during the last 'mandalam' season at Plapally, Pampa and Erumeli areas. This system consists of multiple modules comprising the early warning system identifying the presence of wild animals at a specific location, public SMS alert, staff monitoring and management, fence integrity detection system and real-time monitoring, all of which work together to provide an efficient and effective conflict mitigation solution....