Cellphone and LED Lights Based Warning System

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Alarm beacons

texts and voice call alerts

This is a simple SMS based system to warn people about approaching elephants and to inform Rapid Response Units in the area. People living nearby are encouraged to subscribe to the service.

This is a simple crowd-sourcing based information system that gives the location of elephant sightings to those subscribed to the service. People living within a two-kilometer radius of recent elephant alert locations, will receive an alert first. In turn, the community can spread the word to friends and families, who can take necessary precautions and measures. Research conducted by NCF’s Ananda Kumar in Tamil Nadu’s Valparai area, Anamalai hills (home to second largest population of elephants in India), between 2002-2007 found that elephants in the area are most likely to be found within two kilometers (1.2 miles) of their previous day’s location. Credit: Mongabay 2015, Tapping into evolutionary responses to guard crops against elephants

Caution tips:

The Nature Conservation Foundation team have created an application using mobile phones to communicate to an entire village using signal beacons. Beacons are placed in strategic, elevated locations to provide maximum visibility to both residents and visitors in the area who may be unaware to elephant presence. When elephants are known to be less than 1 km from an alarm beacon, a call or text message can be sent to turn on the beacon which emits a blinking red light. Lights are operated by calling a number from a mobile phone. If someone sees an elephant, they can call the number and the light is activated, alerting people to the fact that there is an elephant in the region.

Additional measures:

Why are they useful?

NCF have also used digital 24 hour display boardsto warn people about elephants.

This may help especially with reducing accidental elephant encounters, bumping into them at night, on the road or when visibility is poor.

Whatsapp groups can be set up for mass messaging and information is spread quickly through the app.

If elephants are surprised by the sudden appearance of a person in front of them, they may panic and charge.

Radio devices can be also used for alerting.

This method needs community involvement and participation in receiving messages, reporting elephant locations and sharing information. With all methods, there is a risk of elephant habituation. It is best to combine and vary strategies. Best used with watchtowers. The above method has been demonstrated to be an effective method for Asian elephants. Further field trials and adaptations may be needed for African elephants.

With advanced warning of elephant locations, many conflicts can be avoided. Using this knowledge, people can take alternative routes or use the warning to help the elephants to change direction.

Credits and Disclaimer: We have collected the information above from multiple sources. The ideas presented were developed by Ananda Kumar, Nature Conservation Foundation. More information: www.ncf-india.org. See References. Save the Elephants advises caution with all the methods and informationn collected and presented in this toolbox. Further research may be required before each site-specific implementation. *Save the Elephants is not liable for any costs, damages or injuries incurred by the use of these methods.

1. Made in Kenya 2021

Produced by Save the Elephants


Illustrations by Nicola Heath