Thursday, May 14, 2009

BELL the big cat

BELL the big cat
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

A government task force has recommended a number of technological solutions to protect the Gir lion. This includes using GPS collars, reports Himanshu Kaushik

The task force appointed by the state government to combat man-animal conflicts in Gir forest, in its list of recommendations, has suggested that 10 lions be fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars. The task force set up in 2007 after eight lions were killed by poachers in Junagadh and Bhavnagar districts and headed by principal chief conservator of forests, (wildlife) Pradeep Khanna, recommends that the technological solution be implemented in three phases. The first phase would be devoted to Gir, which is the last abode of the Asiatic lion, the second to rest of the lion habitat in Brihad Gir and the third to upgrade communication network technology.

In the first phase 500 GPSenabled hand-held communication devices should be supplied to protection staff. The VHF network should be augmented with additional towers and repeaters to provide coverage in entire Gir.

A sensor grid of 10 automatic sensors should be tested in field conditions and if found useful a grid of 50 automated sensors should be operationalised in Gir. Longrange night vision equipment should be supplied to mobile patrolling squads. Breeding and exchange protocols for gene pool should also be developed.

In the second phase, another 500 communication devices should be deployed and VHF network for voice and data communication should be augmented to cover the entire lion habitat. Night vision equipment should be provided to cover all patrol vehicles. Also 10 animals outside Gir should be fitted with GPS collars. C r yo p - reservation and genetic studies should begin and be integrated with GIS application and database. In the third phase, which has to be completed in five years from 2009, the VHF network should be replaced by a 3G-compliant broad bandwidth wireless network to enable image transmission. GIS and camera interface on hand-held devices and GIS application availability on the move even within the forest area should be available.

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