Special Correspondent, The Hindu | March 21, 2021
Patrolling and anti-poaching activities in the tiger reserves contiguous to Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu will be intensified with greater coordination among Forest Department personnel in these areas.
This was decided at a meeting involving senior officials and field staff drawn from Bandipur, Nagarahole, BRT, Mudumalai, Sathyamangalam, and Wayanad tiger reserves besides representatives from the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary in Chamarajanagar and held at Bandipur last week.
The outcome of the meeting is significant as it entails greater protection to what is recognised to be the world’s largest tiger habitat that spans across the three States and supports nearly 700 tigers in the wild.
Intelligence gathering mechanism will be stepped up and the information shared among the field staff for greater efficacy in curbing poaching and other illegal activities in the region.
With greater coordination and information sharing, anti-poaching activities will receive a thrust and be more effective. In the past, poachers used to strike in one area of a State and slip away into an other area, taking advantage of lack of coordination among the forest staff. It has been decided to intensify joint patrolling operations along the forest boundaries that span the three States.
Bandipur in Karnataka shares boundary with Mudumali in Tamil Nadu while Nagarahole shares borders with Wayanad in Kerala. The Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary abuts the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve and it was in this part of the landscape (Cauvery–Sathyamangalam) where poachers had a free run owing to lack of patrolling.
The meeting also decided to conduct a special operation or a drive entailing the staff of the three States and crack down on smugglers of wildlife derivatives and poachers suspected to be operating in these regions and strengthen protection to forests and wildlife. This will entail confiscation of unlicensed weapons and it was resolved in the meeting to crack down and seize such weapons, including guns without licence, in possession of people living in the villages bordering the forest region spanning across the three States.
S.R. Natesh, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, said a meeting of senior officers would be held once in two months at the tri-junction — where the borders of Bandipur, Nagarahole, and Wayanad meet — to review their activities and progress. Besides, field staff of the three States where the forests are contiguous would support each other in firefighting operations, he added.
Vijai Kumar Gogi, PCCF (Wildlife), Karnataka; N.S. Murali, IG Forests, NTCA (South); Nihar Ranjan, Chief Conservator of Forests, Satyamangalam; K.K. Koushal, Field Director, Project Tiger, Mudumalai; Manoj Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Chamarajanagar Circle; officers and other fields staff of the three States attended the meeting.