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Indian Scientists Are Preventing Wild Elephant Attacks With Text Messages and TV

Categories: South Asia, India, Citizen Media, Development, Environment, Ideas, Technology
Wild elephant destroys residential houses in Dimapur. Image by Caiisi Mao. Copyright Demotix (21/6/2012) [1]

Wild elephant destroys residential houses in Dimapur. Image by Caisii Mao. Copyright Demotix (21/6/2012)

Each year a few hundred people die in India due to wild elephant attacks [2] as the animals are pushed into smaller spaces [2] to live. Scientist Anand Kumar and researcher Ganesh Raghunathan of Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF [3]) have found an innovative way to deal with human-elephant conflict [4] in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, India.

They have built an elephant information network [5] that can let people know when and where there is elephant movement, using local cable channels and mobile phones. A small team in Valparai tracks elephants during the day and feeds information on the whereabouts of elephants to a local TV channel.

The information is displayed in the form of scrolling news [4] on local cable TV channels every day after 4 p.m. along with a variety of early-warning systems [6] to alert people to the presence of elephants. The foundation has a database of about 2,500 local residents and text messages are sent [7] to those who are within a two-kilometre radius of elephant movement. They also have deployed a gadget in 22 places that flashes red LED lights to ward off elephants. One has to simply give a missed call to the number to trigger this visual signal.

Blogger Deponti [8] notes that:

The co-existence and the conflict are two parts of the same coin.

Renowned filmmaker Saravanakumar focuses on the coexistence measures with the help of locally adaptable and feasible technology in the Valparai plateau in this video [9]

Varun Alagar [10], a commenter on the YouTube video, says:

This indeed has inspired many people, such great measures are welcome in most vulnerable places, involving conflicts. Please keep up this good work, and may there be co existence in a journey rather than a destination.