In a first, the forest department has installed a surveillance camera system with artificial intelligence to monitor the presence of wild animals near human settlements under the Mankulam forest division in Idukki.
The pilot initiative, developed by the department in association with the electronics and communication wing of the Government Engineering College, Idukki, was implemented with the assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
According to officials, the system aims to provide real-time warning of the presence of wild animals to reduce human-wildlife conflict at forest edges. Mankulam is a forest-covered panchayat and most of the border areas face serious threats of human-wildlife conflict.
According to S. Santhosh Kumar, head of the college department, who spearheaded the project, alerts will be shared with elected devices within 30 seconds to a minute. “The new system consists of an infrared camera, power source, internet and AI-based equipment. When the presence of wild animals is detected, the system provides live images. real time and alerts the devices. Animals such as wild elephants, bison, tigers, leopards and wild boar are included in the system,” Mr. Santhosh Kumar said.
The official said the AI-based system was first installed at the engineering school on a trial basis and then at Anakkulam.
“The initial cost of the new system, which operates without internet support, is around ₹35,000. The real-time images and alarm will help managers issue timely alerts and avoid conflicts,” said Mr Santhosh Kumar.
Mankulam Divisional Forestry Officer G. Jayachandran said the Forestry Department has identified 10 points under the Forestry Division to install the new system. “The trial at Anakkulam was successful and it received a timely warning about wild elephants,” Mr Jayachandran said.
He said the solar systems have already been installed in remote locations as part of the project.
Prior to the project, a survey was conducted under the Munnar Forest Division to find long and short term measures to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. “Based on the report, the department installed a 4 km long solar fence from Adityapuram to Kaniyamkayam and dug a trench at Virinjaparakudi,” Mr Jayachandran said.