Steering clear of wild jumbos, digitally (Hassan District, India) 


The Hindu

Date Published

See link for photo.  

Live displays, flashing lights alert public to elephant movement in Karnataka.

It is an early warning system for wild elephant movement in and around habitations that uses crowdsourced information, digital displays and mobile phone technology.

People in Karnataka’s Sakaleshpur taluk, who face frequent conflicts with elephants, see the alerts on a public digital display. They also get help from special alert lights that flash when a herd is spotted in the area. The system is run by Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) with support from the Planters’ Association and the Forest Department.

Travellers bound for Kiruhunase, Siddapura, Ale Beluru and surrounding villages catch the alerts on the digital board at the Hassan District Planters’ Association on Sakaleshpur’s outskirts, and look for the flashing lights on the route.

Vinod Krishnan, a researcher at NCF, gets real-time information on elephant herds from villagers and Forest Department staff and puts it up on the five-foot-long display board. “Normally, I get inputs in the morning and visit the spot to verify. A message goes up by evening”, said Mr. Krishnan, who has worked on NCF’s elephant project for two years. 

During his field visits, he built contacts with over 200 people in 100 villages, and they turned into his source network.

“One display board has been installed and NCF has plans for similar boards in a few other places,” he said. The alarm lights blink as soon as he or the forest official or authorised villager, whose numbers are linked to a dedicated mobile SIM, dials it. The alert is ended when one of them dials the number again.

Pattern in deaths

An NCF study of 23 people who died in elephant conflicts between 2010 and 2016 found that in most cases, the incidents occurred between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. A similar system was implemented to good effect by NCF in the estate town of Valparai, Tamil Nadu.