Mass text message alerts saving lives in India

Text messages are currently being used to reduce potentially deadly conflicts between humans and animals in southern India, saving hundreds of lives.

Mass text alerts are sent out to subscribers in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Assam, Maharashtra and Odisha to warn them of wild animals close by, most commonly being herds of wild elephants. Mobile phones are more popular than ever in the area, while human-animal conflict is a growing problem, reports.

Between 2009 and 2011, more than 1,000 people in the area were killed as a result of conflicts with animals, especially elephants. Valparai in Tamil Nadu used to contain large areas of tropical rainforest, but due to the rapid urbanisation in the area only 40 patches of rainforest remain, leaving more than 100 elephants in close proximity to humans at all times.

Since text alerts were introduced by Ananda Kumar of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) there has been no incidence of human death, notes.

Ramachandran, a senior field officer from Karamalai estate – a local tea plantation in Valparai, said: “I can live with my family happily after I get the elephant messages on [my] mobile. This facility has helped save many lives in Valparai.”

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