Chandrapur: Taking lessons from the failure of protection in Bhadurna tigress poaching case in the buffer zone, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) management mulling major changes in its protection strategy. Authorities have decided to build their own intelligence network, prepare a database of poachers and suspects, take up intensive awareness campaign in villages in core and buffer areas, while motivating its own staff for better functioning.
Coordinated utilization of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) in sensitive areas in buffer zone for enhancement of protection also tops the agenda. Authorities are also pondering shifting the base of STPF from core region to outer buffer, where it is needed more in the light of heightened conflict and poaching pressure. These decisions were taken in a joint meeting of core and buffer officers held in the presence of deputy directors of both departments to discuss the status of protection in the tiger reserve on April 24.
"We have decided to build an intelligence network across the TATR territory like the police department. Six STPF personnel have already been sent for intelligence training to Pune. Necessary help will be sought from the local police department to train ground level staff in intelligence gathering, selection of informers and utilization of secret funds," said deputy director (buffer) Gajendra Narvane.
He claimed they will utilize eco-development committee (EDC), which are present in every village in the buffer, to gain information about poaching and suspicious acts of villagers in forests. The department will ensure that EDCs that fail to discharge their responsibilities do not get grants. Building rapport with the shepherds, forest goods and fire wood collectors to gain information too is included in the agenda. The department is even going to take farmers into confidence to motivate them to inform local foresters if anybody is seen putting electrified wire or traps on fences of their farms.
Coordinated utilization of STPF in sensitive buffer area is another strategic step towards protection. "Department is going to make a list of sensitive areas on priority basis and STPF would carry out patrolling in coordination with local guards. Such area selective domination in sensitive pockets would help discourage poachers. We are building a software to provide real time feed from patrolling STPF team in the jungle." Narvane said.
Even shifting the base of STPF, which is presently stationed in core area of tiger reserve, to buffer zone is on the cards. "I am considering shifting the STPF base to buffer zone. Three contingents of STPS will be shifted to Chandrapur, Mul and Chimur. Each of the squad will cover two buffer ranges, while making selective camps in sensitive core already," said field director, TATR, GP Garad.
Honorary wildlife warden Bhandu Dhotre, who promoted many protection measures in the meeting, said the department is going to take up door-to-door awareness drive in entire TATR territory. "Local staffers will deliver a leaflet with detailed dos and don'ts. Team of foresters will approach every doorstep to explain the importance of forest and wildlife to every forest dweller. A special documentary on the Bhadurna tigress poaching will be prepared and shown in sensitive areas as well as every EDC meeting to educate people about the severe legal consequences of poaching and forest crimes," Dhotre said.
He informed that department will carry out detailed mapping of 11 KV power supply line passing through the buffer area to prevent poaching through electrocution in forest. Details of villages connected to each of the feeder will be obtained and system will be developed under which concerned forest staffer and his senior officer gets an SMS about the tripping of supply line, to help initiate investigation. Similarly, a detailed database of poachers, under trials and suspects of poaching and forest crimes in all 79 villages in buffer will be prepared to facilitate investigations, Dhotre told.
Department will also take steps toward strengthening morale of the staffers. Senior officers will train ground level staff to bring every detail of forest related crime to higher officers without fear of inquiry or disciplinary action. Motivating the staffers by offering prizes for their excellent work too has been included in the new agenda.