By Riyan Ramanath
Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) authorities have removed as many as 15 anti-poaching camps from the core area to create a disturbance-free habitat for wildlife. The camps were relocated beyond the core area by building raised platforms on trees.
Out of about 100 anti-poaching camps in the STR, 15 were located inside the core area. Each camp was manned by two protection assistants (PAs). "The presence of the PAs in the anti-poaching camps is prohibited by rules since they were located inside the core area. We have created raised platforms for the 15 camps which are now located outside the core area," said regional chief conservator of forest (RCCF), Anup Naik.
The tiger reserve, which is spread over 2,750 sq km, comprises a core area measuring over 1,195 sq km and a buffer zone of 1,550 sq km. Since the inception of the STR, the security of the 'inviolate' (safe habitation area for the big cats) area has continued to bother wildlife officials. "The remaining 85 anti-poaching camps do not interfere with the movement of tigers. If we find that some of the other camps are also responsible for disturbance, we will relocate them as well," said Naik.
Earlier, the STR authorities shifted about 32 tribal families from the core area. They were relocated in Asankunda village. "We evicted them from upper Barakamuda and Balnaghar, which are part of the core area. About 105 persons, including men, women and children, were located. As per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the core area of a reserve should be kept free of human settlements. According to rules, each displaced family was paid a compensation of Rs 10 lakh," said Naik.
The NTCA had asked all states to relocate people living in core areas of sanctuaries. "We hope that freeing these areas of human habitation will help improve the conservation of tigers and stabilize their prey base. However, three villages, Kabataghai, Bakua and Jamuna, are still inside the core area of the STR," said an official. Reserve officials have already relocated 61 families from Jenabil.