“We have found that hi-tech cameras can strengthen our alert system and can be used to check human-elephant conflict. It will help us to track if an elephant or its herd has strayed into the nearby villages and issue an alert on time,” Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (wildlife) KC Bebarta said.
“It will help in generating a lot of information. We can plan intervention and protect both people and wildlife,” he said.
A proposal has been sent to the state government in this regard to execute the idea as a pilot project in Dharamjaigarh area of Raigarh district, which is infamous for human-elephant conflicts, he said.
“Under the system, which has been named ‘e-Eye’ (electronic eye), hi-definition cameras enabled with night vision will be placed at a high altitude point from where movement of elephants can be assessed from a long distance of about one or two kilometres, depending upon the visibility in the jungles,” Bebarta said.
Unlike static cameras, these will be capable of 360-degree movement and can zoom and record the objects.
These would continuously transmit video footage to the control centre to be monitored by forest personnel.
Based on the visual data, the forest ground staff and villagers will be intimated about the exact location of the elephants so that they can immediately take precautionary measures, he said.
The cameras will be placed at several locations: near water sources, grassland areas and in the periphery of the villages, the official said.
“As soon as we receive approval from the state government, we will start the process to set up the system. After examining the system in Dharamjaigarh, it will be expanded further,” he said.
According to senior forest officials, the cameras will also help to track poachers and timber smugglers.
The thick-forested northern Chhattisgarh, comprising Surguja, Korba, Raigarh, Jashpur and Koriya districts, is infamous for human-elephant conflict incidents.
According to a report, around 14 elephants died of electrocution in Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2013. The human-elephant conflicts also led to 198 human deaths here in the same period, wildlife expert Mansoor Khan said.
Dharamjaigarh area is close to Korba district where this month at least three people, including a woman, were killed by wild elephants.
Khan has hailed the technology, but said instead of using such a system, emphasis should be given more to develop a habitat for the elephant.
“Cameras can be useful in detecting movement of elephants, who often create havoc in villages as they look around for food while crossing forests. But stress should also be given as to why the animals are venturing into villages and human habitat. It is because their habitat is in danger,” Khan said.
There are number of incidents of property and crop damage for which the state government paid crores of rupees as compensation, he said.
Coal mining in the region is another factor which has greatly affected the elephant habitat. The presence of elephants was recorded in most of the coal blocks in the area where mining is underway or have been identified for mining. Rampant mining could lead to an increase in human-elephant conflict in future, Khan said.