With the number of illegal felling and poaching cases increasing during the Diwali season, Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand has been put under high alert for the festival.
A highly protected area of Uttarakhand, the park has been frequently witnessing acts of illegal felling and also poaching in recent times. The fauna in Rajaji becomes most vulnerable during Diwali days. However, the park authorities have cancelled the leaves of their staff during the festival and have also asked the frontline staff to be on alert. The park authorities recently also convened a meeting of its Range officers to ensure foolproof security during the festival.
Rajaji Park is also strictly adhering to the recent advisory of State Wildlife authorities to curb bursting of crackers in close vicinity of the forests. There are several key ranges of the park like Chilawali, Dholkhand and Beriwada that are in close proximity to highly populated villages, which celebrate Diwali with the bursting of crackers on a large scale. Significantly, the park authorities are also trying to sensitize these villagers about eco Diwali and the harmful effects of the crackers on the wildlife.
Chief conservator of Forests, Wildlife and Intelligence, SK Dutt said Uttarakhand Forest Department was taking every possible step to discourage people from bursting crackers on a large scale, particularly near wildlife sanctuaries and parks. He said a sensitization drive was also undertaken in villages along the protected areas to make people understand the ill effects of cracker bursting on the wildlife.
Spread over an area of 744 sq km, Rajaji National Park is famous for its Asian elephant.