The Forest Department has introduced helplines to respond to instances of elephant attack in Sakleshpur and Yeslur ranges. The public can call up the numbers any time in the day, and the person at the other end will communicate the information to the rapid response teams and anti-depredation squad to rush to the spot.

The helplines were launched at a programme in Sakleshpur on Thursday; however, the numbers are yet to be popularised. The helpline numbers are – 8296096323 and 8762824594.

The first number is active, while the second number would be activated in a couple of days, according to the department.

Immediate response

Sivaram Babu, Deputy Conservator of Forests, on Saturday, told
The Hindu
that the helpline would receive calls throughout the day. “We have also got two new vehicles for our rapid response teams. Whenever we get information related to elephants, the teams would rush to the spot. Our staff will also maintain records of the caller and location from where the call was made”, he said. In the last two days, since the helplines were launched, there were a couple of calls.

Apps to the rescue

The department has also introduced two applications for collecting data on crop damage caused due to elephants and record data about the movement of elephants. The Huli-Exgratia, a mobile application, was earlier introduced in Kodagu district on a pilot basis. As the department found it successful, it has been introduced in other places.

“Earlier, claiming crop compensation for damage caused by wild elephants was a long process. The Deputy Range Forest Officer had to visit the spot and report it to the RFO, who would report to the ACF. With the new application, the officer enters the data on the spot and I can access it immediately”, said the DCF.

Another application – open data kit – has been introduced for members of the rapid response teams. Whenever the teams attend to an emergency, they have to enter information like the number of elephants spotted, source of information, action taken and the location. “This application is to collect data for our future strategies to counter the elephant menace systematically”, Mr. Sivaram Babu said.

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