Thursday, May 14, 2009

GIS system likely for lion conservation

GIS system likely for lion conservation
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

Ahmedabad: The task force feels dynamics of lions can be better understood using a Geographic Information System (GIS).

This would help monitor and map man-animal conflict areas, animal movement, tracking of vehicles in protected areas and allow senior officials to make real-time intervention in patrolling and surveillance schedules. While designing technological intervention, skill levels of lower-level staff and forest environment should be taken into account.

The system should be user-friendly, equipment rugged and consume less power. It should also use the existing VHF network by suitably augmenting it for data transmission. It should generate meaningful spaciotemporal data to facilitate long-term management interventions.

The task force proposes that the gene pool population would be set up at three places - Sakkarbaug Zoo, Junagadh, Rampara Sanctuary and the forest area near Hingolgadh.

The task force suggests that Sakkarbaug Zoo should function as the nodal agency for all activities related to genome mapping and conservation. Genetic studies, mainly DNA profiling, would be carried out at there under Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission. For this, a fully-equipped laboratory would be established. he wildlife gene bank would act as a repository of genetic material.

The forest department hired a consultant to formulate an integrated GIS-based solution. The solution consists of four components - hand-held GPS-enabled field communication units, communication network, GIS database and control room application. Field units will replace walkietalkie sets and have additional capability to transmit geo-coordinates along with datetime stamp at pre-defined intervals. The task force suggests that the government should use expertise of several companies. It also feels that too many devices and installed hardware in the forest is not good


Lacks models to foresee potential areas of spread of lions in the absence of customised GIS applications, the task force has observed

Day-to-day sightings of lions are recorded and reported in several forms, reports and registers and its compilation and collation is manually not feasible on a daily, or even weekly, basis

Man-animal conflict exists at the boundaries and is most severe in areas of recent dispersal

Areas to be patrolled or covered under surveillance are decided at the range and subordinate levels for beat guards and foresters. Senior officers don't have an overall picture

There are some blind areas within the forest area where there is no VHF coverage. The forest department doesn't have clandestine night-time surveillance capabilities

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