By J. Arockiaraj
Forty-five-year-old Madasamy is part of the anti-poaching squad of the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary at Srivilliputhur. He appears much younger to his age and along with his companions treks more than 1,000 hectares of the forest to ensure that the wild animals are protected from poachers. Madasamy and 66 others, along with the forest officials, keep the wildlife sanctuary relatively safer from poaching and forest fires when compared to the state of other similar protected zones.
Spread over 486 square kilo meters, the sanctuary is primarily the home of grizzled squirrels. It also has a wide range of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. Both resident and migrating elephants are also found in good number. Despite vacancies and many approaching the retirement age, the anti-poaching squad plays a crucial role in protecting the forest and its inhabitants, the official sources from the sanctuary said.
One factor for the success of the squad is the link it has created with the farm owners on the fringes of the forest. They will alert the squad members by giving a missed call if they spot any suspicious activities inside the forest land. With this set up, the forest officials are able to nab poachers who are later penalised, the officials said. "The squad members are dedicated ones and keep combing the area night and day. The job is tough because the roads are poor or nil in many ranges of the forest," said M Parthiban, biologist at the sanctuary.
The forest officials, meanwhile, expressed a wish to get hold of accessories with the help of sponsors to improve the vigil. They managed to provide uniforms to squad members through one such sponsor. Fund crunch prevents timely disbursement of the salary to the squad members who are paid Rs 4,000 monthly as remuneration. We have not been paid for the last two months, the squad members said. "We have submitted proposals for more funds and accessories for the squad members," a senior official from the sanctuary said. More....