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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Forest dept seeks IIT-B tech toys for animal rescue ops

For leopard search on campus last week, forest officials were helped by IITians with robots.

Written by Anjali Lukose | Mumbai | Published: August 3, 2014 2:38:11 am
IIT-B-l IIT-B director Devang Khakhar said, “I’ll be happy to help the forest department officials to reduce the man-animal conflict.”

Inspired by the use of robots to detect the presence of a leopard inside the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) lab recently, the Thane forest division has sought technical advice and gadgets from IIT-B to improve their methods to rescue animals. Thane deputy conservator of forest wrote to the IIT-B director on Friday.

“The use of modified robot in searching the leopard was a path-breaking employment of technology for the welfare of wildlife. I request you to provide such help in future as well. It shall be more fruitful if a working model is developed and provided for the use of the forest department in all sort of situations, beyond your campus as well. This endeavour shall help in mitigating the man-animal conflict to a real extent, besides proving it as a morale booster for the rescue staff and public in general,” read the letter.

K P Singh, chief conservator of forests, Thane (territorial) division, explained, “We want technological improvement in the methodology to rescue animals in terms of how to unload animals from a cage and use of robots and night-vision devices to detect the presence of leopards in an enclosed room.”

IIT-B director Devang Khakhar said, “I’ll be happy to help the forest department officials to reduce the man-animal conflict.”

Following the leopard scare on the IIT-B campus last week, the forest department officials surveyed the campus and gave a list of dos and dont’s to the campus security officer.

The instructions included the installation of heavy-duty mesh and grills on all exhaust and vents to seal entry routes of workshops and laboratories, intervening spaces between workshops be kept free of undesired growth of grasses and shrubs and ensuring no garbage was left over to attract dogs, which,in turn, attract leopards.

Given its proximity to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, leopards are a common sight at the IIT campus. “We have spotted several leopards over the years. Generally, if there is a leopard spotted or trapped, we get emails from the administration. We are used to it, and just take care by travelling in groups or in well-lit areas,” said Nayan Palat, second-year student of mechanical department.

“Leopards can easily swim across the Vihar lake and climb over walls. People on campus must learn to co-exist with leopards and make their area unattractive for the animals and just venture carefully through the campus,” added Singh.

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