By K. Shiva Kumar
With the recent arrests of poachers and the recovery of tiger pelts, police, forest department officials and wildlife enthusiasts are working together to curb poaching in tiger reserves and sanctuaries.
Authorities are concerned over the increasing pressure on forests and have decided to track the movement of poachers, both locals and those from outside the state.
After the arrest of elephant poachers in Chamarajanagar, tiger poachers in M M Hills and reports of hunters venturing into the forests, the Forest Department has increased its anti-poaching camps to more than 20 each in Bandipur, Nagarhole, B R hills, M M Hills and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuaries.
It has trained around 70 forest personnel in handling weapons.
Networking to Protect Forests
Mallesh, an activist, said many youths and locals have volunteered to provide information on movement of people inside the forest. The rise in nature clubs in rural areas has also strengthened forest-police-public bond.
Sources in the Forest Department said they have expanded the informants’ network and are giving them incentives to obtain clues about suspicious movements in forest areas.
“We are updating the list of people involved in forest offences and are tracking their movements closely to ensure that they don’t come into contact with professional poachers from outside,” said a senior official.Meanwhile, the police have stepped up patrolling in hamlets on the fringes of forests and on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.
Chamarajanagar SP Rajendra Prasad said they are coordinating with the Forest Department and providing additional forces whenever sought.
“Station house officers are told to interact frequently with people and informants to gather clues about offenders,” Prasad added.
M M Hills Wildlife Sanctuary DFO Javeed said they have also closed a few mud roads leading to the forests and booked more than 100 poaching and related cases.
He said they have restricted grazing of cattle inside the forest following reports of tiger movements and rise in elephant population.
Cameras to Track Animals, Poachers
The department has fixed camera traps in forests, particularly in tiger reserves, to track the movement of wild animals.
A senior official said three camera traps have recorded movement of poachers and authorities are on the lookout for them.
Although there have been no serious cases of poaching after forest brigand Veerappan’s death, the arrest of tiger poachers from Madhya Pradesh and other criminals posing as nomads in M M Hills range point to professional poachers looking to operate in the area.
This follows an increased demand for tiger pelts, bones and tusks in the international market.