It looks as though Karnataka will be the first state in India to track pachyderms with GPS technology. In response to human-elephant conflict, the Karnataka Forest Department has decided to try to combat the problem by tracking four elephants with GPS collars. The four elephants have already been chosen from Bandipur National Park. These particular elephants have been causing problems in the Hassan and Kodagu districts, causing damage to crops and attacking humans. If tracking the elephants is successful in reducing the problem, more elephants will be tracked in the area.
The devices used to track the animals is actually a hybrid GPS collar developed by the Department of Electronics Study at the Indian Institute of Science. The improvised tracking device uses GPS technology, and claims to have a longer battery life and be more cost-effective than traditional tracking collars. These devices are also water-proof. When compared with similar devices used by the South African forest authorities, the improvised devices were both lighter in weight and less expensive. The collars used by the South African forest authorities were not water-proof.
A team will tranquilize the four elephants before attaching the GPS collars for tracking. They are then released and monitored remotely. The devices record the exact location of the elephants every four hours. This data is transmitted back to six different locations once per day for monitoring. In Sri Lanka, ten elephants were collard for similar reasons and the program has been quite successful. By monitoring the elephants, the forest rangers are able to anticipate when the pachyderms are approaching human habitats, allowing the villagers to prepare for the approaching elephants. The Karnataka Forest Department hopes that their tracking will be able to help reduce attacks and damage to crops and property in their state.