The Sacred Elephant of Asia

The Gift of a Torch...The Flashlight

Innovation: Wind Activation

The origin of the project: our crew often interviews farmers in many regions of Sri Lanka. While in the South we stayed into the evening with a farmer who has spent decades keeping elephants from his paddy field. We watched him string up a couple flashlights to nearby trees.  Having never seen this before, we stayed the evening and were taken by the possibilities of enhancing this simple device (he had placed a torch into a 2 liter plastic bottle, suspending it by string from a branch.

The flashlight is perhaps the greatest nighttime deterrence a farmer can have against a crop-raiding elephant. SavingGanesh has manufactured a wind activated flashlight which, when hung from a branch or other support, mimics a farmer's actions and deters elephants from crop raiding. For our testing, we selected a farmer who we have collaborated on other projects over the last few years.  He cultivates rice in a 5 acre field near to the Sigiriyia UNESCO heritage site.

We’ve enhanced the device with a waterproof enclosure and a wind vane to catch subtle wind. Our device moves by the slightest draft off of the paddy field. In the darkness, it looks like a farmer flashing his light. With relatively poor eyesight, the elephants don’t know the difference.  We brought our device to the North of Sri Lanka where there is major crop raiding on a nightly basis. Farmers there had never seen such a device. We will be monitoring its efficacy and consider enhancements with solar recharging capability and a photosensor

New Technology Testing Grounds: Whispering Woods Jungle Lodge at Mudumalai National Park in the Western Ghats of India,  An extraordinary parade of wildlife streams through this facility nightly, and within view of our jungle lodge. The procession of elephants is so consistent that we are organizing the testing of innovative elephant warning systems here, specifically: automated photo-identification and seismic sensing systems. We will then be exporting these optimized systems to high conflict areas in Sri Lanka.

Using private inholdings within the Mudamalai Park for testing technologies will expedite their development, as government hurdles need not be overcome. Resident naturalist Arun Prasad explains that the land is located within an elephant corridor, Arun also serves as Secretary for the Mudumalai Wildlife Nature Protection Society (MWNPS), which may collaborate on these projects.

We have also developed a conservation filmmaking workshop program at this facility.  Weekend workshops began in early February - check GeoWandering.com for updates.  In a typical three day stay you will witness from 3 to 20 elephants enjoy a salt pit which is maintained by Mr. Prasad’s crew. Mr. Prasad has extensive experience as a photographer and naturalist and has enhanced his large property to the benefit of the animals who frequent it.  He irrigates the property in the dry season, insuring a constant stream of wildlife.  He states that this is a major corridor between the East and West Ghats.