How Two Techies Are Serving to Foresters Fight Wildlife Crimes With Expertise


With the rising modernisation and growing inhabitants, the road between civilisation and the wild has turn out to be more and more blurry. For essentially the most half, people have been identified to encroach upon areas designated for the wild.

This human-animal battle has raised points worldwide. In a rustic like India, which is residence to among the rarest animals on the planet, encompassing over 24 % of forest space, the speed of wildlife crime is alarmingly excessive.

If we glance again at our ancestors, we realise that perpetrating atrocities upon harmless wildlife has been a sport for people. Whether or not looking them for pleasure or exploiting their pores and skin, enamel, and bones for our profit, we have now exploited them for ages.

Regardless of the Authorities implementing guidelines and legal guidelines to guard the wild, instances of wildlife crime stay staggeringly excessive. In accordance with a report by The Hindu, in 2020 alone, there have been greater than 1,000 registered instances of wildlife crime. A report by The Indian Categorical states that in 2023, Tamil Nadu reported 150 instances of wildlife crime, whereas Karnataka reported 70 cases of wildlife crimes and 17 incidents of poaching.

Even with a judicial system in place for such crimes, the query of why wildlife crimes are on the rise persists. Confronted with related issues, two tech fanatics, Allen Shaji and Sobin Mathew from Kerala mixed their technological experience and fervour for the wild to digitally doc wildlife crimes in India. This not solely eliminates paperwork and paperwork but in addition expedites the supply of justice.

Preventing wildlife crime with expertise

Born and raised in Kerala, Allen and Sobin had been school buddies who accomplished their commencement from Amalguri Faculty of Engineering in 2016.

“Like every other engineering graduates, we had been additionally searching for job alternatives. I received positioned at an organization and was ready for the provide letter to reach in 2016 once I realised that I may not wish to do a job,” Allen tells The Higher India.

Sobin Mathew and Allen Shaji, co-founders of Leopard Tech Labs.
Sobin Mathew and Allen Shaji, co-founders of Leopard Tech Labs. Image credit score: Leopard Tech Labs

Throughout this time, he met with some conservationists who nudged him into wildlife conservation. “Whereas most techies are into discovering jobs and getting packages, I realised that the wildlife conservation sector is one thing that nobody actually talks about,’ he says.

“At the moment, the techies weren’t delving into conservation, and expertise was fairly restricted on this area. Once we had the chance to converse with conservationists, they talked about the dearth of sure software program instruments. Every part relied closely on paperwork, prompting us to ponder introducing innovation to the conservation area.”

He continues, “I realised how there’s a hole out there. There’s virtually zero expertise to trace any sort of wildlife crime in India. So I made a decision to affix palms with my good friend Sobin who has related pursuits to bridge this hole.”

And simply in time, when the duo was seeking to enter the sector, “We had been searching for alternatives within the sector and tried reaching numerous conservationists. We met with Mr Jose Louie, who additionally was from our hometown. He was from the Wildlife Belief Of India who helped us safe our first challenge with them. The challenge, named Mapper, marked the start of our collaboration. Upon efficiently finishing this challenge, we realised that our concepts have extra potential,” he says.

In 2017, they included the corporate ‘Leopard Tech Labs’. At the moment, they’ve launched a number of merchandise that assist fight wildlife crime and have a buyer base in eight international locations. They inform that also they are in collaboration with completely different State Governments in India.

‘HAWK’ for fast justice

After incorporating their firm, Allen and Sobin started working as marketing consultant software program builders for the Wildlife Belief of India. It was throughout this era that they seized a chance to collaborate with the Kerala Forest Division.

“Working with the Wildlife Belief of India and with their help, our firm was in a position to make HAWK or Hostile Exercise Watch Kernel with the forest division of Kerala,” he says.

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In 2023, Tamil Nadu reported 150 instances of wildlife crime, whereas Karnataka reported 70 cases of wildlife crimes and 17 incidents of poaching.

The Kerala forest division or most forest departments within the nation relied closely on guide data of crimes and instances. The Kerala forest division has now switched to a digital documenting course of in a first-of-its-kind initiative.

“HAWK is an offence administration system that features case dealing with, courtroom case monitoring, communication administration, and wildlife dying monitoring. This module encompasses numerous features,” he explains, “Earlier than its implementation, all processes had been managed by means of paperwork. With the software program in place, customers merely enter the information, and the system routinely generates experiences in codecs similar to PDF, prepared for submission to the courtroom.”

The corporate has constructed an analytics module together with a communication module. As an illustration, if a query arises within the Parliament concerning the variety of wildlife deaths in Kerala from January 1 to February. The system supplies the required information with a single click on and inside seconds, enabling environment friendly evaluation.

Explaining how the software program works, Allen says, “Customers can shortly retrieve information on particular wildlife incidents, just like the variety of elephant deaths from electrocution or tigers misplaced to looking. The system supplies information in codecs similar to Excel, PDF, graphs, and Google Maps, providing insights into the geographical distribution of incidents.”

Moreover, it permits increased authorities to watch the standing of instances, whether or not pending on the vary or division degree or submitted to the courtroom. This performance streamlines assessment conferences, facilitates immediate actions primarily based on case progress, and supplies speedy justice.

For this information, the corporate collaborates with numerous NGOs and Authorities businesses. At the moment, they’re in collaboration with NGOs — similar to IUCN, IFaw, WTI, Kerala Forest Division, Tamil Nadu Forest Division, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, and Species Survival Fee (SSC).

Moreover HAWK, the corporate has a number of different merchandise similar to SARPA — Snake Consciousness, Rescue and Safety App, Jumbo Radar — a complete instrument to monitor elephants outdoors protected areas, WildWatch — an built-in human-wildlife battle mitigation and early warning system, and far more.

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HAWK is an offence administration system that handles instances, and displays courtroom instances, and wildlife deaths.

“Within the realm of wildlife and human-animal battle, present methods typically depend on paperwork, leading to an absence of complete information. Our system, nevertheless, allows monitoring of crop patterns over time, facilitating the identification of intervals with elevated conflicts,” he says.

By producing warmth maps and analysing information spanning 5 years, the corporate can pinpoint particular occasions when conflicts peak. “This info permits for focused interventions, similar to advising villagers to relocate or alter crop cultivation practices, thereby mitigating conflicts and selling coexistence,” he says.

Discover their work fascinating? Go to their web site to know extra.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat)


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