Bio-acoustics to Ward off Jumbos in Athagarh (India)


The New Indian Express

Date Published

For the first time in Odisha, which is witnessing serious man-elephant conflicts, bio-acoustic device will be employed in Cuttack’s Athagarh to check jumbo depredation in human habitations.

The Athagarh Forest Division has requested the Centre for Ecological Sciences of Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) for an experimental project in its area. The bio-acoustic device emits a sound, basing on elephant vocals, which can drive away the jumbos, DFO of Athagarh Arun Kumar Mishra told this paper on Thursday.

According to Dr Chanchal Kumar Sar, who manages the research and field programmes of ANFC in Odisha and neighbouring States, the device has been successfully experimented in Karnataka and is being planned in North Bengal and Assam.

The solar-powered device was actually developed by a retired Indian Air Force officer Mahesh SS and was originally used for bird reduction measures at airports. The device makes use of ecological studies to understand bird behaviour. Sar said IISc and ANFC provided technical support for the bio-acoustic device to be used on wildlife depredation. It has been successfully used on sambhars and wild boars too.

“It was also used in elephant areas of Karnataka. However, there is a fundamental difference in the vegetation cover in the southern State and Odisha. In Karnataka, the forests and crop fields are not contiguous, unlike in Odisha where crop fields occur in fragmented forest patches,” Sar said.

The device, he said, will be employed to observe its impact on the elephants. One device can cover at least four to five acre of crop field whereas in noiseless undisturbed forest areas, one unit can cover over 10 acre.

“We want to study how the sound emitted by the device impacts jumbos. Do they flee one area and go to another habitation? Or do they become aggressive and turn it on at another place?  What if they get accustomed to the sound over a period of time? These behavioural factors have to be observed before the device is recommended for use in the field,” Sar said. At present, cost of one unit is about `33,000.

DFO Mishra said the device would be installed in Athagarh-Khuntuni forest areas where the elephant movement is close to human habitations.

In the last one decade, man-elephant conflict has seen loss of 685 pachyderm lives, whereas 660 people have been killed in the State. The Government has coughed up over `44 crore as compensation for loss of human lives and crops loss.