Drone cameras deployed to identify illegal miners – thehindu.com

Drone cameras are being deployed to track and identify illegal miners in the Pandalur range in Gudalur.
The miners, who have dug over 5,000 individual mines in Devala and surrounding regions in Gudalur in order to find miniscule amounts of gold embedded in the rocks, put themselves as well as wildlife at risk from falling and getting trapped inside the mines.
Recently, an elephant calf was rescued after it fell inside one of the mines and was reunited with its herd by the forest staff. A short while later, an adult elephant was found dead after falling inside one of the mines. Its death is believed to have been covered up by the miners.
Both incidents highlighted the threat faced by wildlife due to the presence of the mines along the crucial wildlife corridor used by elephants to move from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Gudalur to neighboring Nilambur and Wayanad in Kerala.
G. Ramkumar, Forest Range Officer, Pandalur range, said that the drone camera will be deployed if the forest department receives any intelligence of illegal gold miners entering the region.
“One of the problems faced by the department staff is that the miners flee on hearing the approach of any vehicle or forest staff. With the use of the drone camera, we can identify the individuals and get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape,” said a top forest official.
The drone camera has a range of around one km. Mr. Ramkumar said that the forest department hoped such measures will discourage people from trying to enter the mines. The department has begun clamping down on illegal mining following the discovery of the elephant carcass in the mine, and media reports about the impunity with which wildlife in the region is put at risk from the activity.
On November 8, the forest staff detained four persons who are believed to have been preparing to dig a new mine in Cherambadi range. The four men, identified as M. Mohan, P. Sivakumar, M. Nadheem and Y. Mohammed Naseek, were let off after a cumulative fine of ₹40,000 was imposed on them.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 5:30:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/drone-cameras-deployed-to-identify-illegal-miners/article37570242.ece
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