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Monday, October 22, 2012

Corbett eye in the sky nets illegal miners red-handed

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times New Delhi, October 22, 2012 An eye in sky keeping a watch on tigers around the clock in Corbett National Park and sending SMS alert to forest officials in case of danger is set for replication across the cuntry. The system, country's first and based on online monitoring system for marine monitoring in United States, helped the forest officials to catch illegal sand and stone miners at the boundary of the national park recently. "The system alerted the forest officials who caught all offenders from the spot," said National Tiger Conservation Authority joint director SP Yadav. The totally unmanned solar energy based systems runs on cameras installed on tall towers and detects any moving object having body weight of 20 kg or more. Some of the many cameras also man the towers and the photo-voltaic solar panels. The system automatically emails pictures to a 24 into 7 monitoring centre with an SMS alert to all forest officials. "It just needs to see something to send an alert," Yadav said. The added advantage of the system is that authorized officials can monitor the wildlife area from anywhere in the world through internet. The first system installed on the Corbett’s border with Uttar Pradesh covering 500 sq kms has cost the NTCA Rs 3 crore. The Uttarakhand forest department pays for maintenance of the system and to run the monitoring centre. Corbett has around 200 tigers with highest density of the big cat in 100 square kilometers in the world. Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of NTCA said Assam has already shown willingness to have the system probably for Kaziranga National Park, which has been under spotlight of the poachers, and he hoped that other tiger reserves will follow suit soon. The government plans to install this online e-system in all high wildlife poaching areas in tiger reserves in India in the 12th five year plan (2012-17) with the Planning Commission increasing the budget for tigers around nine times. This is the second major information technology based tool used by NTCA to protect the tigers. The authority had introduced online monitoring in Sariska in Rajasthan through global positioning system based radio collaring of tigers.

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