Security audits in tiger reserves in the offing

Security audits in tiger reserves in the offing

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Delhi (PTI): With huge funds not helping much in conservation of big cats, states will be soon asked to conduct security audits periodically in tiger reserves to plug loopholes threatening the endangered predators.

“Every year we have been doling out huge money to the tiger-bearing states for the protection of the cats. But unless they review their security system and fill up the gaps, all efforts to save the endangered animal will be futile,” a senior environment official told PTI.

He said a proposal in this regard will be soon sent to the 18 tiger-range states advising them to carry out periodic security audits of their tiger reserves to ensure that the guidelines for protection of animals are followed in letter and spirit.

“These security audits should be carried out at the state level as also from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) from time to time and will aim to address issues such as implementation of security protocols, reviewing staff preparedness to prevent or respond to any crisis,” he added.

Elaborating further on the proposal, the official said, the states need to carry out regular mock drills, keep a tab on monitoring by senior officials as also updating threat perceptions as poachers employ innovative ways to kill tigers.

These suggestions have been drafted by NTCA along with NGO Traffic India as part of a security plan meant to lay out the entire gamut of management activities necessary for protection of the big cat.

A periodic review of the steps should be done by independent and anonymous evaluators to ensure accountabilty of the authorities, as per the security plan.

In the recent budget, the Finance Ministry had allocated a whopping Rs 60 crore for the conservation of tigers in the country whose numbers have drastically declined to 1,400 as estimated by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Besides man-animal conflict and reducing habitat, poaching is seen as a major threat to the survival of the big cats in the country.

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