The Forest Department’s spending on wildlife collars may soon drop significantly as it has begun experimenting with monitoring devices made in Bangalore.
Until recently, India imported these radio collars and rangefinders at exorbitant prices.
For example, a radio collar used to tag elephants would have cost the department between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 4 lakh.
However, the “desi” product made by two Bengaluru-based startups is available between Rs 25,000 and Rs 40,000.
Arcturus products. Inc led by Abhijit Kumar N (31) and Traktfrc operated by Ishaan Raghunandan (33), which manufacture radio collars, GPS collars and other monitoring devices, will not only help to mitigate human-animal conflict, but will also help researchers better understand a species. at a very affordable price.
Abhijit’s products are currently being tested at Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR) in Karnataka, Bikaner (Rajasthan), Alappuzha (Kerala) Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu) and Puducherry.
Working with the forest department of these states, he has collared wild dogs, foxes, jackals, jungle cats, and elephants.
He is waiting for permission to tag tigers, leopards and hornbills.
Abhijit also has radio-collared turtles in Tamil Nadu for study. Soon the devices will be tested on turtles in Lakshadweep.
Ishaan’s tracking devices are deployed and tested in the Amazon rainforest on primates such as Paca, emperor tamarin and carnivorous animals like ocelots and Taira.
Both Abhijit and Ishaan are working on custom devices based on GSM and LORA (long range radio) technology that can be used on a variety of animals in various territories.
“I wrote codes and made collars from scratch based on field experience. All of my prototypes are on par with Germany based E-Obs collars which are considered the gold standard in the industry” , Abhijit said.
At KTR, the forest department and Abhijit are working to create a “biological mesh” with the LoRa network that could send alerts of tagged wild animals venturing into human habitations.
Break the spread of the virus
They also plan to work on wild dogs to understand how rabies is transmitted to wild animals by stray dogs.
“The study could help break the transmission of the virus,” he said.
The smallest of animals
Ishaan, which works on advanced technology in the field of transmitter collars, offers products that can be used on the smallest animals.
“Most of the time, we lose an animal by tranquilizing it or capturing it to mark it. To avoid this, we have developed sensor-based trapping. The whole process of capturing, tranquilizing, marking, monitoring its vital signs and releasing the animal can be completed in 30 to 40 minutes,” he said.
Ishaan is also working on “peel-away” tags that could detach from animals once the researcher has completed their study.
He said it was difficult to get permission from Indian forest departments for surveying and tagging compared to the Amazon and Africa.
“Officials there understand the importance of using advanced technology and artificial intelligence to study lesser-known species,” he said.
Talk to DHSenior Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Vijaykumar Gogi said, “All these years we have been importing radio/telemetry devices as per the standards set by Wildlife Institute of India, due to lack of availability in India. products from local companies demonstrate their abilities to track and receive data like imported ones, we are more than willing to experiment with them in our forests,” he said.