How an Early Warning System is being used as a deterrent for wild elephants in wheat fields
ANIDERS (Animal Intrusion Detection and Repellent System), an Early Warning System (EWS) is helping protect farms in Mankanthpur, Uttarakhand by keeping wild elephants and other herbivores away from wheat crops. The two unit early warning system was introduced in January 2017as a pilot by WWF-India, and has brought relief to the farmers who have attempted to fend off elephant raids for years with little success.
Harish Kandpal, a wheat farmer from Makhanthpur, had tried many ways of preventing elephant raids – from lighting firecrackers to maintaining a watch on the fields through the night - but none of these were effective.
With the introduction of the ANIDERS system, a 100 per cent success rate has been reported in reducing elephant raids. The reported number of incidents in a year were as high as 30-40 (around 15-20 per crop season) which has now dropped down to 5 or 6.
The two units of the EWS were placed around the farmlands to detect the presence of animals within a 10-12 meter radius of each of the two sensors. The system generates a spotlight at the intrusion spot and alarm through a hooter which effectively wards off wildlife. Camera traps set up in these locations also confirm that the animals are keeping away due to the unpleasant sound.
Although the cost of the investment is high for a system with two sensors/units, farmers have reported a major improvement in the harvest. For Kandpal, ‘’The harvest improved from 2.5 quintals (250 kg) in April 2016 to 4 quintals (400 kg) in April 2017 after the installation of the system. Even though the system costs Rs. 7000, the returns last long and are far greater, and better than any other measure we have tried.’’
While the harvest improvements cannot be attributed to the ANIDERS system alone, it has definitely played a huge role in the process.
According to the data analysis reported by WWF-India from January to April 2017, the total number of animal captures by the camera traps for both the systems is 650, out of which 539 captures (83%) were recorded to be within the range of the ANIDERS. The system detected the animal 368 times, out of which the animal was repelled for 86% (316) of these instances of detection.
The WWF-India field team has also suggested some key improvements in the system, like an alarm with multiple sounds, external switches to adjust the duration of the alarm and separate switches of the LED and the alarm. In addition to this, a newer Active Infra Red technology (AIR) is also being procured.
WWF-India is also evaluating the long-term efficacy of the system, by setting up camera traps to understand how well the system works. These traps have also resulted in fascinating footage regarding animal behaviour when faced with such systems, and will contribute towards the organization’s understanding of how these systems should be designed and set up.