In an effort to improve conservation initiatives in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Phaneesh Murthy has made a drone donation to the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. This technology will be pivotal to forest monitoring efforts in the area as conservationists battle the effects of deforestation and poaching when it comes to endangered species. The drone donated by Murthy can fly for 40 minutes and cover four kilometers of the area on a single charge, providing a mix of photos and video that can help with aerial surveillance programs.
Phaneesh Murthy has a long history of making an impact with technology across industries and applications. Having held roles as a CEO, president, and founder for several companies, his career legacy is in providing avenues for corporations to experience growth using technology. Murthy has long advocated for merging technology into operations management, noting that different applications and processes can be optimized to improve company-wide outcomes and the bottom line. When not improving efforts in the board room, Phaneesh Murthy spends his time dedicated to philanthropic efforts, often making donations to support environmental efforts including tiger preservation. “Tigers were going through an existential crisis,” Murthy shared. “And for those of us who have seen these magnificent animals in the wild, we wanted to make sure that our children would be able to see them too.”
The recent drone donation made by Phaneesh Murthy will heighten the preserve’s ability to monitor the region for many threats. Drones are often used in forestry to detect and address problems before they become pervasive while also warning off potential human threats such as poachers. The drone dedicated for use at the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve will be used specifically to monitor for unauthorized access by humans as well as to survey the forest during summer to identify forest fires in their initial stages. This will help first responders better address threats to wildlife with more timely and positive outcomes for the plants and animals under the preserve’s protection. Thermal drones provide a distinct advantage by detecting changes in heat to detect anything from irregular patches of temperature indicating fire to the ability to monitor human and wildlife movement during conflict.
Nagarahole Tiger Reserve is dedicated to the protection of endangered species including tigers and elephants. The preserve is home to one of the highest-density populations of tigers in India, supporting the species through the protection of natural habitats, co-predators, and prey. Attaining its status as a tiger reserve in 1972, the region plays host to over 300 different species of plants and animals, making for a diverse biosphere where endangered species can thrive. While the reserve strives to protect its treasures, dangers to the area include everything from timber smuggling and big game hunting. Human-animal conflicts, such as the roaming of animals into cultivated farmland, can also cause retaliation that leads to the depopulation of endangered species.
The addition of the thermal drone donated by Phaneesh Murtry will have an immediate impact on helping to mitigate these threats. Reserve personnel will be able to track groups of animals in danger of compromising local villages while at the same time detecting smugglers or poachers moving illegally though the forests at night. The added benefit of heat signature recognition by the drone will cut down on illegal or unforeseen activities that typically occur on the reserve once darkness falls. The drone, valued at $25,500 USD, has a demonstrated ability to fly during poor weather conditions and capture media in a variety of formats during daylight and nighttime lighting, or lack thereof.
Philanthropists like Phaneesh Murthy are a valuable component of conservation efforts, which often struggle to receive the funding necessary to continue effectively. These donors are highlighting the importance of coupling conservation with technology in many cases, looking to leverage systems and processes already in place to evoke the protections needed to fulfill conservation goals. By having philanthropists collaborate with government agencies, NGOs, and local reserves (both private and public), broader social goals can be met by presenting a united front.
The drone donation by Phaneesh Murthy is not the only contribution the philanthropist has made to help save endangered tigers. Leveraging technology and economic resources alike, he and his companies have donated 900 tracking cameras placed throughout the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve to catch poachers and identify if and where snares are laid to entrap the animals. He has also founded the Kabini Foundation, a nonprofit designed to conserve and protect another critical tiger habitat in the Kabini jungle system. As a result of Murthy’s various endeavors, India’s tiger population has continued to increase, demonstrating that individuals can make a difference when applying technology and capital to conservation efforts.