Kodagu Forest Department tests elephant traffic signs to resolve wildlife conflict – The New Indian Express

Express press service

MADIKERI: The Kodagu Division Forestry Department is trying new techniques to address the growing human-elephant conflict in the district. In a one-of-a-kind initiative, elephant signs have been erected in a few conflict areas erected by A Rocha India – a conservation research organization, with support from the Kodagu Division Forestry Department.

Signs with elephants have been placed in five conflict areas across the boundaries of Meenukolli and Anekadu forests. These road signs are functional and alert commuters to the movement or presence of wild elephants.

“Elephant traffic signs were first tested in Bannerghatta and over 50 elephant movement detections have been recorded so far. Yet in its R&D phase, we have now expanded this facility in Kodagu to the request of the forest department,” said Avinash Krishnan, CEO of A Rocha India.

An organization that largely finds solutions to the human-animal conflict in Bannerghatta and Hosuru areas, A Rocha India has erected five elephant signs in the district after obtaining details of traditional elephant routes from the staff from the ground forest and the local community.

“The signs were erected at strategic locations where elephants were identified as moving frequently – particularly in coffee plantations and other small plots of land,” he explained.

Elephant traffic signs alert commuters to the movement of elephants. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

The signs work as an early warning system for commuters and are automated with infrared signals. The infrared beams were placed at an optimal height to detect the presence of elephants.

When infrared detects the movement of wild elephants, traffic signs light up and warn commuters to slow down or take a break. The signal boards have been tested to make them foolproof.

Additionally, once elephant movement is detected, signals are pushed to the SMS server system and local DRFOs can track and monitor the movement of wild elephants. Solar-powered beams and traffic signs can also be DC-connected when there is no sunlight. The units were custom made and proven to be weather resistant.

“We are conducting a commuter survey across Bannerghatta to see if people notice and benefit from the traffic signs. The monitoring process is still ongoing and data will be shared with the Forest Department to conceptualize mitigation plans,” he added.

Although the project has been implemented on a small scale in the district, A Rocha India is looking forward to expanding it following its successful implementation. The initiative is being piloted in the district at the request of Kodagu CCF BN Murthy Division Forestry Department.

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