How two men used technology to help elephants and humans coexist in Tamil Nadu
Features Friday, September 19, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | September 13, 2014 | 1:55 pm IST With rampant encroachments in the dense forests and elephant corridors in Valparai, a small hill station in Tamil Nadu, the man animal conflict in the region has increased over the years. From 1994- 2013, 39 people from Valparai have been killed by elephants. Two men, Anand (from Nature Conservation Foundation) and Ganesh Raghunathan, decided to find a solution to the man-animal conflict. Engaging the local population and using simple technology, they have been successful to some extent in averting such deaths. Over the past 120 years Valparai has been converted from a dense rain forest to a fragments one with many coffee and tea plantations around. Anand, who initiated the idea to help man and elephants co-exist, says that 120 years is a very short time for the elephants to adapt to this change. The two found that 36 out of 39 deaths that had happened were because the people were unaware of the presence of elephants. The two, therefore, set out to track elephants and alert the people through the local cable television channel. A scroll in the evening time alerted the people of the location of elephants. Later alerts were given in the form of bulk SMSes in Tamil and English. The duo collected mobile numbers of all employers of plantations and got their families registered. Whenever elephants were spotted in a particular area the people of that area were alerted. Their work documented by Evanescense studios says many lives were saved because of this SMS alert facility and other systems. A system to alert people at night using flash lights was also introduced. The flash lights were made to function by two to three pro-active people living in specific areas. On spotting an elephant the people could give a missed call to a phone in the light tower which would turn on the light. Night travellers were hugely benefited with this system. Watch the documentary:
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