GUWAHATI: Kaziranga National Park will soon have a new fleet of drones for real-time aerial surveillance of the area during the monsoon season. Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden NK Vasu said they aim to bring all the five forest ranges of Kaziranga under surveillance to keep an eye out on animals in case of floods.
At present, Kaziranga has one drone for surveillance and seven electronic eyes - cameras capable of taking thermal and optical images - have been installed at different locations of the park. "We have issued a tender for installing a drone-based surveillance system capable of taking high quality images during the day and night. We are hopeful that we will be able to use more drones during floods this time," Vasu said.
Located on the floodplains of Brahmaputra, Kaziranga, which is home to two-third of the world's population of one-horned rhinos besides being a tiger reserve, is inundated during the monsoon every year, leading to the death of many animals and damage of infrastructure. The park was affected by one of the worst floods last year which led to death of at least 400 animals, including 31 rhinos. Most of the deaths occurred on August 13 when the water levels rose to around eight feet within the national park. The single drone was used extensively last year to monitor the floodand also to keep a watch on poachers.
Park officials said aerial surveillance becomes particularly useful during floods as large parts of Kaziranga become inaccessible then. "While boats are the only means of patrolling during floods, aerial surveillance helps us monitor the actual situation on a real-time basis. So, the introduction of more drones is a great move because we face multiple challenges during floods such as threats of poaching and animals coming out of the park to escape the deluge," a park official said.