13 thermal cams to monitor elephants near Madukkarai (India)


New Indian Express

Date Published

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In an attempt to monitor the movement of wild elephants, the Forest Department here has fixed thermal motion sensor cameras in the reserve forest areas of Solakkarai forest beat in Madukkarai, where a female elephant was killed by a speeding train recently.

The department with the help of World Wide Fund (WWF) fixed 13 cameras on Sunday and Monday at the spots frequented by wild elephants between Puthuppathi and Modamathi. The locations were identified by checking for the presence of dung and also jumbo footprints. The area is three km in the railway line ‘B’. Cameras were also fixed in nearby 1.5-km railway line.

The new measures were put in place after an inspection by a joint team of the Forest Department  and Palakkad Railway Division on the Walayar-Madukkarai track on Monday.  

The cameras were fixed about 5 to 10 m from the migratory route of the elephants, so that the images of the pachyderms will be captured.

“We will be able to know when the animals cross the railway track and how much time they spend near the forest. We can also easily track the animals foraging on crops cultivated near the forest. Similarly, whether the animals are visiting as a herd or individually will also be tracked.

This systematic method would help forest Department set up underpasses, ramps and other measures to prevent elephant deaths in accidents,” said D Boominathan, landscape coordinator of WWF. Shortage of manpower for monitoring the movement of elephants is also a reason that forced the Forest Department to fix cameras. A senior forest official said they hoped the State government would soon provide them with a drone to monitor wildlife, as was announced by Forest Minister D Sreenivasan in the Assembly on Tuesday. Two female elephants were killed by trains at Marappalam and Puthuppathi within the last 40 days.