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Camera traps, GPS to keep you safe at National Park

A personal digital assistant and 14 more traps are in the offing, which will map animal movement and help prevent human-beast conflict 
 
In a bid to avoid man-animal conflict, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) forest authorities have started the process of installing cameras in the premises, which will monitor the movement of animals within the park, particularly that of leopards. Also in place is a Global Positioning system (GPS).


Keeping track: The equipment will help forest officials map animal
movement in and around the national park. The SGNP officials have
also designed a special logo for this programme.


Speaking to MiD DAY, Sunil Limaye, director of the park said, "We have installed a GPS as well as camera traps. We are yet to purchase a device called the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), which is as small as a mobile phone. We have already started installing these camera traps, and expect to receive pictures of leopards soon."


Watch tower: The SGNP officials install a camera inside the premises

Yesterday, a camera trap was installed near the Kanheri cave, where leopards have been frequently spotted. The forest guard who installed the device said, "Between 9 and 10 pm every day, a leopard is spotted in this area. It comes to drink water. We hope to get a picture of the beast."

The equipment will help forest officials map animal movement in and around the national park. The SGNP officials have also designed a special logo for this programme.

The official revealed that four cameras are already in place, and six more will be installed in the coming weeks, after which orders will be placed for 10 new cameras. By November this year, thus, 20 cameras will keep vigil within the park premises.

"The four cameras have been placed in the zoo, in the Yeoor range, Tungareshwar and Tulsi lake core area. We will change their positions at intervals of two to three days," informed Limaye.

The officials are hoping that these cameras will help them spot the four horned antelopes which inhabit the park, but are elusive owing to their solitary habits.

 "We will monitor the movements of animals for a year, and try and locate their watering holes and lairs. After this, we will keep the visitors away from the areas which are frequented by animals," said Limaye.

Spotted a beast?
If you live near the park or frequent it often, you too can participate in the exciting process by using Facebook and Google Earth to point out the exact location where the animal was spotted. 

How camera-trapping works
>> Officials frequently use the cameras in forest areas across the country during tiger censuses. A camera-trap is triggered off by the presence of animals. However, the trap is used only to capture unobtrusive photographs of the creature, and not the animal itself. A camera-trap consists of three basic parts: a camera, a heat/motion sensor, and a power supply. 

>> The camera-trap is a box about a foot (30 cm) tall, six inches (15 cm) wide, and two inches (5 cm) thick. It is mounted on a tree, facing outward, and observes the surrounding forest from its perch. The electronic eye looks for heat in motion. When an animal passes in front of the trap, the camera detects its movement and body heat, and quietly snaps a photograph. One can also take one-minute videos after the photograph.

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