Mass hunting practices and forest fire have long been challenges for Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR), the State’s first notified tiger habitat. The Wild Orissa, as part of its Similipal Conservation Programme, recently organised a series of initiatives to arrest the menace in association with the STR administration.
The wildlife organisation focused on villages located in Thakurmunda forest range and engaged the major stakeholders - villagers and poachers. It also held interactive sessions with frontline forest personnel, members of Sabuja Vahini, Tiger Protection Force and Vana Surakshya Samitis (VSS).
Essay competitions were held for school children to sensitise them about conservation requirements of Similipal. Most of the participants belonged to families which traditionally have been associated with poaching and hunting. “It is important that tiger habitats in the buffer gets consolidated and freed from adverse factors. A well meaning approach by engaging with local communities and forest personnel will not only generate goodwill but also clear the misgivings,” chief spokesperson Kulamani Deo said.
To involve the local communities, rallies were taken out by children in the villages. Wild Orissa also held interactive meetings with VSS in different villages to curb forest fire. Members of women self help groups were also enlisted in the programmes so that they could play a major role in dissuading the men folk from engaging in poaching and hunting.
Later, a prize distribution ceremony was organised to felicitate the winners of various inter-school competitions. A special cash award was given to a VSS which had successfully contained forest fire in its area.
Divisional Forest Officer of Karanjia A Behera, Assistant Conservator of Forests A Mohanty, Honorary Wildlife Wardens of Mayurbhanj Sanjukta Basa and Bhanumitra Acharya, Similipal Conservation Program Head Shibaji Nayak, and other members of Wild Orissa were also present.