A team of experts of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) is studying ways to tackle jackals and birds coming perilously close to the runway and aircraft parking areas.
The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport authority has approached ZSI seeking suggestions from them to control the problem, ZSI officials said, adding that they had been conducting the study for the past three months.
"There is a substantial population of jackals near the airport. They dig burrows from outside the fencing area and come inside very discreetly. Once they enter they keep roaming around the area including the plane take off and landing bays.
This can cause a big accident someday as the runways have to be kept free for flight operations," ZSI scientist Dr Gopinathan Maheswaran said on Tuesday. He said they were planning to do radio-collaring of some jackals to monitor their movements.
"Once we know their exact routes then we can prepare a plan to plug their entry and exit points. We have submitted a proposal to the airport authorities saying that a detailed study needed to be carried out in the vicinity of the airport area. Once we do that we'll submit our suggestions," he said. Jackals are a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Relocating the population may not yield results because jackals are highly territorial species which means if one is removed another will take its place, he said.
Birds are another headache for the airport authorities as bird strikes can damage an aircraft's engine, wing flaps and fuselage forcing the airlines to ground the plane and carry out expensive repairs.
As per record, in 2014 the Kolkata airport recorded over 50 bird-hit cases. “We have noticed that a good population of birds like pigeons, sparrows and kites survive in the airport area. Birds keep roaming around and incidents of bird-hits are reported. To minimise it, you need to keep the surrounding area clean of any vegetation which attracts birds,” Dr Maheswaran, in-charge of the bird section of ZSI, said.
He has recommended that the nearby areas of the airport till 10 km have to be kept free of any garbage dump which attracts scavengers like kites.
Some airports even deploy bird scarers whose job is to burst crackers to scare away the birds during flight landing and take-off, he said.