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To monitor big cats, Rajasthan will have hi-tech anti-poaching system by January

Once the concept is ready in the core areas, the system will be extended to cover the entire sanctuary by March 2018.

jaipur Updated: Dec 23, 2017 19:37 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan news,big cats,monitor
The initial budget allocated for the project is Rs 50 crore. (Himanshu Vyas\ HT )

Come January, the core areas of five popular wildlife sanctuaries in Rajasthan – Sariska, Ranthambore, Mukundra, Jhalana and Jawaibag – will be equipped with hi-tech wildlife surveillance (WS) and anti-poaching system (APS), a step foresters say will go a long way in curbing poaching activities.

The state information technology (IT) department is working with the forest personnel to put a technologically advanced system in place that will ensure effective monitoring and protection of endangered animals, especially tigers. The hi-tech equipment includes thermal-imaging cameras and high-resolution optical cameras that will provide live feeds to control rooms being set up in each location. The surveillance will be backed up by drones to quickly zero in on any suspicious movement. Personnel manning the data centres and deployed in the core areas will be equipped with radio sets.

“The first lot of infrastructure will be ready by the third week of January and will cover the core areas of the five sanctuaries,” state IT department deputy director Sonia Chaturvedi.

“Thermal cameras will help detect nighttime wildlife movement as a lot of poaching takes place at night. Cameras will also be in place for daytime surveillance. In case any episode is reported, the analytical team will be ready and a drone will be available to quickly reach the particular area,” she said.

A modular container-based local data centre will be established at each core area and will be connected to state headquarters, she said. A drone will also be available at each sanctuary and will come handy in case of fire and natural calamities. The local control room will be linked to every camera so wildlife movement patterns can be evaluated.

Static towers, each with a range of about 50 sq km, and equipped with a mix of thermal, optical and dome cameras, will be installed. The number of towers will vary from sanctuary to sanctuary. So while 16 towers will be installed at Sariska, 12 towers will come up at Ranthambore, 16 at Mukundra, six at Jhalana and four towers will be set up at Jawaibag.

Once the concept is ready in the core areas, the system will be extended to cover the entire sanctuary by March 2018, Chaturvedi said. Over 1,100 critical areas at the five protected sites have been identified to be covered under the WS and APS system.

The WS and APS project also aims to enhance the efficiency of forest officials, identify poaching-prone areas and also check infiltration and illegal mining besides providing fact-based information for effective decision-making.

The initial budget allocated for the project is Rs 50 crore.

“It’s like 24x7 CCTV surveillance with an effective and automated response mechanism in place. In Sariska, under the first phase, about 15 surveillance points are being set up and thermal image camera will be placed in the sensitive areas where entry of people has been noted such as the entry points near the villages. Once the system is in place, it will go a long way in curbing poaching activities,” deputy conservator of Forest (Sariska) Balaji Kari told HT.

A number of wildlife offences have been reported from Rajasthan in the last decade. In Sariska, an adult male tiger was poisoned to death in 2010.

Similar systems exist in other wildlife reserves such as Kaziranga National Park and Jim Corbett National Park, but they haven’t been implemented at such an extensive scale.

First Published: Dec 23, 2017 19:37 IST