India Implements AI Surveillance to Protect Elephants 

Tamil Nadu in India implemented an AI-based surveillance system to reduce growing nom of elephant deaths on railway tracks. 

The southern Indian state, Tamil Nadu, has implemented an AI-based surveillance system to reduce the growing number of elephant deaths on railway tracks. 

According to official data, over the past decade, 36 elephants have died due to train collisions, which 11 of these incidents occurred on tracks near Madukkarai, an area where the forest borders Kerala and crosses the elephants’ passageways.  

Back in 2021, Tamil Nadu’s high court directed the forest department and railways to find ways to prevent elephants’ deaths on these tracks. Therefore, the forest department, in collaboration with railway authorities, has installed 12 towers equipped with AI cameras along the Madukkarai tracks. 

These cameras, with their thermal and visible light imaging capabilities, provide live viewing and are also designed to detect elephants, as well as humans near the railway. Whenever an elephant is seen within 100 feet of the track, the system notifies the forest and railways officials, requiring an intervention to slow down the trains and lead the elephants away from danger.  

Project manager, Ashish Rajput, noted that these AI cameras, such as those installed on the border areas, are highly important to ensure timely detection and intervention. 

From her part, Supriya Sahu, secretary of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department stated that previously the workers of the forest relied on regular patrols to monitor elephants’ activity on the tracks. However, this method had limitations, making it hard to ensure comprehensive safety for the elephants.  

While the AI system showed effectiveness with the detection of around 400 instances of elephants nearing the railway tracks within just a few months of implementation, thus preventing potential accidents. 

Control room operator, Mr. Manikandan said that the AI system does not only focus on elephants, but it can also send alerts for any animal or human nearing the tracks, which enhances overall safety. 

It is worth noting that this initiative is part of a larger plan by India’s federal railway ministry to roll out similar AI-based surveillance system, called Gajraj, across various states to safeguard elephant corridors. 

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