Delay in tiger protection force a threat to man & animal
Anindo Dey, TNN, Sep 2, 2010, 12.53am IST
JAIPUR: Delay in the formation of the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) for the Ranthambore tiger reserve is not only putting the rising population of cats in the reserve at risk of poaching as they stray, but could cause clashes between foresters and civilians.
"On August 20, when the tiger stepped out of the national park into the Bhuri Pahadi village and killed cattle, the villagers were so infuriated that the mob did not let the forest guards and officials perform their duty of tranquillising the tiger," said officials of the state forest department.
"Even the district administration and police officials present thought it was the duty of the forest department to deal with the mob as well as the tiger as the area lay in close proximity of the forest land," he added.
"Therefore, most of the time of the forest officials were taken up in handling the mob. But forest officials are not trained to handle a mob nor is it their duty. Had there been a force that could tackle both then matters would have been different. They could have tackled the crowd as their forest officials went about handling the tiger," he added.
This is where the STPF's role comes in. To be recruited and trained by the police department but on duty for the forest department, this special force would not only be specially armed but would also receive special training to handle such emergencies.
Rajasthan has been sanctioned one company, consisting of 112 persons, for the Ranthambore tiger reserve. The ministry of forest and environment has given a grant of Rs 93 lakhs out of the total cost of Rs 3.72 crore needed to raise, arm and deploying force in the last financial year.
Despite the Union minister Jairam Ramesh's August 3 reminder to the state to swiftly form the force, little seem to have been done. While the state has now put the onus on the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for preparing the MoU after which the force would be formed, it is already two months since the state gave its administrative approval.
"The nod has been given by the home and the forest departments of the state. We are now waiting for the NTCA to prepare the MoU so that the force can be finally formed. We have also sent them reminders," said additional principal chief conservator of forests Rahul Kumar.
The NTCA could not be contacted for its views. However, delay in formation of the force can only aggravate matters as Ranthambore struggles to control its rising tiger population.