The Calcutta airport authorities have sought permission from the forest department to tranquillise and catch jackals, which enter the runways and disrupt flights – jackal problem continues.
“We have been seeking permission from the forest department to tranquillise the jackals. But they have not yet issued it. The jackals often cause flight disruptions,” airport director Atul Dixit said after a meeting of the airport advisory committee on Monday.
If the pilot of an aircraft reports to the air traffic control that he has spotted a jackal on the runway while preparing to land, she or he is asked to abort the landing and make a go-around. The runway is inspected and if it is found clear, the flight is allowed to land.
“If an aircraft hits a jackal while landing or take off, it can cause an accident,” a pilot said.
A forest department official said the airport authorities had sought permission to tranquillise and catch jackals five-six months ago. “We told them that the private agency (hired by the airport) could do it if it had a registered veterinary doctor,” said the official.
About two years ago, the airport authorities had hired a voluntary organisation to catch jackals. Traps were laid and a few jackals were caught. The animals were rehabilitated by the forest department.
“However, the jackals grew wiser and started avoiding the cages,” an airport official said. Later, the voluntary organisation identified the burrows of the jackals and filled those up. But the animals started digging new burrows.
The airport authorities cannot afford this evolution of the animals. Getting jackals off the runway is critical for flight safety. Stray Jackals on the runway can cause suspension of operations and a collision between an aircraft travelling at over 100km/h while landing or taking off can spell a huge disaster.
The jackal population at the airport is estimated to be around a hundred and is growing.