Elephant Early Warning Systems now in Gudulur!

By  Janhavi Rajan April 24 2017, 6:42 AM

Our early warning systems—which inform people about the presence of elephants to avoid surprise encounters—have now been set up in Gudulur, Tamil Nadu!

NCF’s M Ananda Kumar and his team have been running these systems in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, since 2002, in collaboration with local people, plantation companies, and the Tamil Nadu Forest Department.

In Valparai,  70,000 people live alongside elephants, and this close proximity sometimes results in accidents. To keep people safe, they are notified about where elephants are on the plateau through SMSes, red “alert” lights set up at different locations, and announcement systems on buses. With this information, people can steer clear of locations where elephants are present and avoid unexpected encounters.

Today, nearly 25,000 people are benefiting from these systems in Valparai. The number of human deaths from encountering elephants in the region have reduced significantly—from an average of three persons per year (1994-2002) before the project, to one person per year after the project started in 2002, with no human fatal incident in 2016.

Last week, we helped Parry Agro set up seven alert lights and voice call alert systems in the Mango Range (which is a part of their estate) in Gudulur.

“A year ago, Mr MM Venkatachlam, Chairman, Parry Agro Industries Ltd, showed interest in setting up these early warning systems in Gudulur. Human-elephant conflict has been a huge issue in this region with an average of 11 people losing lives due to direct encounters with elephants every year. Since Gudulur is similar to Valparai, with tea being one of the main crops, Parry Agro asked to help them set up early warning systems to keep their employees informed and safe.” —Ananda Kumar, Scientist, Nature Conservation Foundation

These systems will be operated completely by Parry Agro employees who have been trained in how to operate these lights and send out voice calls. Through these systems, information about elephant presence and movement will be sent out to selected employees, who will then spread the message to others to keep them from risking their lives by running into these animals.

We’re so glad to see our early warning systems being implemented by others! These simple measures to let people know where elephants are can help them plan and prepare for their everyday activities—running errands, visiting friends, getting back home from work at night—helping both humans and elephants keep safe from each other.