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Monday, April 23, 2012

E-eye to protect tigers at Corbett National Park

Published: Monday, Apr 23, 2012, 9:08 IST | Updated: Monday, Apr 23, 2012, 1:15 IST By Mayank Aggarwal | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA Imagine sitting in a cosy room but keeping an eye on hundreds of kilometers of jungle. Battling acute manpower shortage, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has launched a pilot project for 24X7 surveillance of the Corbett National Park using high-tech infrared and thermal imaging cameras. The project ‘E-eye’ (electronic eye), whose estimated cost is around Rs3.5crore, was started around six months ago when ten high-tech cameras having infrared and thermal imaging capabilities were installed on 10-20 metres high towers. They were set up on Corbett’s sensitive southern boundary bordering UP from where maximum poaching cases have been reported in the past. Of around 800 square kilometers of Crobett area, the cameras are covering around 350 square kilometers area to mainly check poaching. The cameras detect anything weighing more than 20 kilograms and send immediate alert to the control room set up at the Corbett. They have powerful zoom capabilities, can pan and tilt and works even in adverse weather conditions. “Nothing can match human patrolling but we have got fantastic results from this project in the last six months as infiltration incidents has come down drastically. We have successfully checked movement of villagers and on one occasion a tractor involved in illegal mining in the park was also caught,” NTCA’s deputy inspector general SP Yadav told DNA even as he controlled cameras using his computer in Delhi sitting nearly 300 kilometers away from the place. As per Yadav, shortage of field staff at tiger reserves is the primary reason for this project and also that cameras work 24x7x365 is an unmatchable advantage. As per NTCA’s data, there is a shortage of over 1,500 officials including forest ranger officers, forest guards, forest range officers and others. NTCA would soon set up a control room in Delhi as well but at present the only control room is at the Corbett itself. “Whenever an alert about any unauthorized vehicle or infiltrators is received, a rapid response team rushes to the spot to check it. E-eye has created fear amongst locals because of which they have stopped entering the protected zone. This is all what we wanted,” Yadav said. “It is for the first time that such a thing has been done. Nowhere in world is such system used in a national park. We will monitor it for one year before we take a final call for doing it at other reserves across the country,” he added. Yadav also explained that with this system’s help, human-elephant conflict can also be avoided as locals can easily be alerted in advance. Besides NTCA, Pune’s Binomial Solutions too has worked on E-eye.

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