In a move to keep a tab on criminal activities in forest areas, Uttarakhand is the first state in India to introduce a dedicated drone force, the Times of India reports.
The Forest Drone Force comprises Indian Forest Services officers from the state with a fleet of 25 drones, trained operators and various experts from the Dehradun Drone Application Research Center.
The force will keep an eye over illegal activities in forests like illegal mining, poaching, tree felling and other anti-environment as well as anti-wildlife activities. The drones will patrol high-altitude areas in the state.
The principal chief conservator and head of the forest force, Uttarakhand, Jai Raj said, “The force will be dedicated to defending forests and wildlife from anti-forest and anti-environment activities in the state.”
Further, the department is also planning to recruit 15 drone operators as well as upgrading the electronic set up across Uttarakhand to support the initiative.
The coordinator of the drone force and conservator of forests, western circle, Kumaon division, Parag Madhukar Dhakate says, “The creation of a separate wing exclusively for drones will enable us to work in a more coordinated way. Soon, 20 drones will be added to the squad of existing five drones”.
Protected sanctuaries like the Nanda Devi National Park and Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Rajaji Tiger Reserve and others will also have patrol drones looking over them.
Various wildlife enthusiasts have appreciated the move by the state. “The move will enable the department to keep an eye on our flora and fauna more effectively”, said AG Ansari, a Ramnagar resident.
In May, the forest department of the state had announced plans to introduce ‘super drones’, which are packed with tranquilisers to sedate wild animals.
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