Centre grants State Special Tiger Protection Force
Monday, Oct 19, 2009
Bangalore: Karnataka will have a Special Tiger Protection Force, and Bandipur, which is among the four tiger reserves in the State, will have the benefit of the first such protection force, comprising 112 personnel of various ranks who will be stationed at the place. Of the 37 tiger reserves in the country, special forces have been approved for 13.
The approval for the force was granted by the Union Government about a month ago and the recruitment of personnel for the force has already commenced. As part of an understanding, the Recruitment and Training wing of the Karnataka police will conduct a special programme for the tiger force personnel at the Yelahanka police training school in Bangalore.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority, the State Government, and the office of the Field Director of Project Tiger at Bandipur, have entered into a tripartite agreement to form the Special Tiger Protection Force. The cost of recruiting and training the personnel, and their maintenance costs will be borne by the Centre under the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The annual expenditure for the tiger force is expected to be around Rs. 4 crore, and the personnel will be provided with the latest arms and ammunition, apart from motor vehicles and communication equipment.
The special force will go a long way in stepping up protection for wildlife along the periphery of the tiger reserve. It will help in the prevention of poaching of wild animals and smuggling. What has caused anxiety to Forest Department personnel here has been the killing of three tigers and nearly 50 elephants in the Bandipur area over the last one year. A large number of elephants have been electrocuted by farmers whose lands adjoin the tiger reserve.
After Kaziranga and Jim Corbett parks, Bandipur has one of the highest number of tigers. If it is 17 tigers for every 100 sq km of the Project Tiger area in Kaziranga and Corbett parks, it is 10 tigers for a 100 sq km area at Bandipur and Nagarhole reserves in Karnataka. The two other tiger reserves in the State are Bhadra and Anshi, which adjoin Dandeli.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) B.K. Singh told The Hindu that the special force would comprise a company of personnel equivalent to three platoons of men, and the head of the force would be an officer of the rank of Assistant Conservator of Forests.
There would also be three officers of the rank of Range Forest Officer, 18 foresters and 90 forest guards. Around 70 per cent of the force would comprise forest guards and the remaining local inhabitants (tribal people) who had good knowledge of the area. While the recruitment rules, including minimum qualifications, would be applicable for guards, the tribal people had been exempted from them, he added.
The Bandipur tiger reserve extends over an area of 896 sq km, and Mr. Singh exuded confidence that the special force would be deployed in a few months’ time.
Later, the State Government will impress upon the Centre the need to deploy similar forces at Nagarhole, Bhadra and Anshi.
A fortnight ago, the Forest Department personnel at Bandipur busted a tiger poaching racket and recovered a tiger pelt. The three tigers killed during last year were all five years old and in the prime of health.