The drones are expected to reduce the work load of forest personnel in human-elephant conflict zones.File photo

The Forest Department will soon get one more drone to be used for surveillance operations in Coimbatore Forest Division. In August, the Department had conducted test flight of two advanced drones allotted to the Division.

A senior official of the Department said that the third drone to be allotted to the forest division would have advanced facilities like the other two drones. It will have infra-red camera that can be used for surveillance at night and low-light conditions.

“After the arrival of the third drone, the Department has plans to allot one drone each for the two forest ranges. Forest Department staff trained in each forest ranges will operate the drones when required,” said the official. Madukkarai, Pooluvampatti, Coimbatore, Perianaickenpalayam, Karamadai, Mettupalayam and Sirumugai are the seven forest ranges in Coimbatore forest division.

As per the plan, one drone each will be allotted to Madukkarai-Pooluvampatti and Coimbatore-Periyanaickenpalayam forest ranges. The third one will be allotted to Karamadai, Mettupalayam and Sirumugai forest ranges. However, they will be used in other forest ranges too when required.

In August, two drones weighing three kg (priced at Rs. 5 lakh) and five kg (priced at Rs. 7 lakh) were tested near Periya Thadagam. The test flight was successful as the officials could locate an elephant herd in the forest using the drones. They were also found effective as the buzzing sound of the rotors, similar to that of honey bees, made the herd retract to inner part of the forest.

Though the existing two drones are equipped with infra-red camera, the Department is yet to conduct a test flight at night to check its functioning. The drones are expected to reduce the work load of frontline staff of the Department in human-elephant conflict zones in the summer this year. As of now, instances of elephants straying into human habitations and agricultural fields are low due to availability of water and fodder inside forests.

Source : The Hindu.

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