This year’s downturn in flight activity has caused many problems for airports around the globe. However, Kolkata airport is facing a unique issue: the presence of jackals on the airfield. These animals tend to venture into the airport and nearby land to access grass and food waste. Let’s find out why these animals are being spotted and what the airport is doing about the problem.
Airports are a prime target
The presence of animals near and in airports is not a new one by any means. Airports routinely attract birds, prompting measures to avoid catastrophic bird strikes. However, it’s much rarer for large animals to find their way onto the airfield (though not unheard of) and remain there for long.
However, 2020 is definitely a year for firsts. Earlier this year, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) warned that the reduced passenger and aircraft activity in airports could result in more wildlife finding their way to the airport. While the order mostly targeted birds, other wildlife have found their way as well.
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Airports are popular spots for animals due to their vast size, location away from urban areas, and the presence of undeveloped green land near them in many cases. As urban land shrinks, animals tend to get pushed closer towards the fringes and nearby airports. In a nutshell, airports are a perfect breeding ground for animal activity.
According to a report from Scroll, jackals are nothing new to the areas surrounding Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. However, their new presence in the airport poses a threat to aircraft operations, with the risk of striking these animals during takeoff or landing. Without tackling the problem quickly, operations at the airport could be temporarily halted if an animal is seen on the runway.
Golden jackals, the specific ones being sighted, are likely attracted to the presence of food and improperly disposed waste at Kolkata airport. Combined with empty buildings and hangars in the airport complex, it creates the perfect environment for them to thrive.
Due to the threat of disrupting flights, officials are taking action to capture the animals currently residing in the airport. They are doing this by laying out cages with bait to trap the jackals and rehabilitate them. While the plan has found some level of success, there still remain many more to capture.
Not the only airport facing the issue
Nearby Guwahati Airport, in the state of Assam, is also facing a jackal problem. In the last few months, dozens of jackals have entered the airport and now pose a serious risk. Similar actions are being taken to strengthen walls near the airport to prevent more break-ins.
This year has undoubtedly changed the landscape of many airports, with some closing terminals due to the lack of passengers. Lower activity is bound to have a ripple effect on the environment nearby, the effects of which we are seeing now.