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App route to monitor tiger territory

VTR field staff to get mobile phones & special tech

By Sanjeev Kumar Verma in Patna
  • Published 17.09.18
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Patna: Field staff at the Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Bihar's only sanctuary for the big cats, will soon be armed with a special app.

The staff will start monitoring the reserve using M-STRiPES (Monitoring System for Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status), a specially developed mobile app that works even in areas where mobile network is not available.

The national tiger conservation authority (NTCA) has already sanctioned its share of funds for purchasing mobile phones for the field staff. Once the state's share is provided, the reserve staff will get their phones. According to the fund-sharing formula, the NTCA is supposed to provide 60 per cent of the cost of non-recurring expenditure, and 40 per cent has to come from the state government as matching grant.

"We would purchase 80 phones which would be used for app-based monitoring of the reserve," S. Chandrashekhar, Valmiki Tiger Reserve field director, told The Telegraph. "We have already sent the proposal to the state government for release of matching grants and the funds would be released soon after which we would purchase the mobile phones and start app-based monitoring from October."

The patrolling teams, he explained, would have to upload photographs of the start and end point of the area they cover and they would also have share information about the observations made during the visit - such as sighting of animals, signs showing presence of animals, signs of man-animal conflict, illicit felling of trees, etc - withrelated pictures.

In the earlier system, the patrolling teams used to note down such information and submit paper reports which was a time taking process and also the seniors had no tools to crosscheck the observations.

Chandrashekhar said that the new system, which would work even at places having no mobile network, would upload the data in real time and in addition to the reserve management the same data would also be available with the NTCA making it easier for all to have a feel of the ground realities of the reserve.

The field director also pointed out that in the next year's annual plan of operation of the reserve he would request the NTCA to provide funds for buying power banks for the mobile phones so that patrolling teams would not be hamstrung by low battery situations while sharing data from the field.