State Pulse: STPF stem tiger deaths in MP?
Posted On Monday, December 07, 2009
Madhya Pradesh is gearing up for fresh tiger count soon amidst reports that a Special Tiger Protection Force will be set up soon in the state. In the last census of the tiger population in the country, done in February 2008, Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh reported the largest number of tiger deaths.
While Madhya Pradesh reported 13 tiger deaths in the year, Assam had 10. Nine tigers died in Karnataka last year. These figures are a cause for concern – the average population of tigers in the country stands at 1,411.
Even though the deaths reported were mainly of old captive tigers or of tigers that died fighting in the forest reserves and Tiger Parks, yet reports about vanishing to entire tiger population from some of the Tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh has assumed alarming proportions, reports SMS News & Features.
Under these circumstances, it has become the need of the hour for strengthening the measures for keeping the big cats safe from poachers and one of these measures is constitution of Madhya Pradesh Special Tiger Protection Force.
It is after a gap of nearly three years that Madhya Pradesh Forest Department is gearing up again to conduct the Tiger Census which will further reveal the exact number of wildcats in the state.
The last tiger census was conducted in the year 2006 and now the Forest Department under the supervision of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will conduct a fresh survey in the month of January 2010, according Forest Minister, Sartaj Singh.
Nearly 25,000 forest employees will be deployed for conducting the Tiger Census which will be done by using a special camera.
The census would be conducted between January 18-23 and later its report will be sent to the WII which after analysing the data will reveal the exact number of tigers in the state. The state was in news sometime back for the disappearance of tigers from the Panna Tiger Reserve where WII reported that no tiger was left in the reserve allegedly due to rampant poaching.
Later, few big cats were translocated from Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve to Panna for reviving the tiger population there, the official said.
No Tiger census was conducted in Madhya Pradesh since 2006 while it was done in Panna Tiger reserve alone in 2009 and in that counting, only two tigresses were found there and they too were brought in from other national parks.
As per the landscape wise census in 2006, Kanha Landscape has 89 tigers, followed by Bandhavgarh 47, Pench 33, Panna 24 and Satpura 39. But most of these figures have been contested by some wildlife experts who say that the number of tigers is much less than projected in the 2006 census as the number of big cats is dwindling fast.
Concerned over dwindling of tiger population in the state, the Forest Department has decided to constitute Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) for protecting big cats in Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench Tiger Reserves.
The STPF is being constituted under the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
Three STPF company each will be constituted for the above three tiger reserves, according to Forest Department sources. Each company will be commanded by an Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) with three tiger force range officers under him.
Members of STPF would be given special training from the state police and paramilitary forces. Members of the STPF would be given modern weapons and facility of telecom network.
It may be mentioned that Madhya Pradesh is India’s largest state with an area of 443,446sq km and one fifth of Indiaâ€(tm)s forests are in Madhya Pradesh. The forests are dense and support a varied and rich wildlife. Nearly 22% of world’s Tiger population live in these forests of MP. No doubt, it is welcome move to constitute a Special Tiger Protection force in the state. But, what the Forest Department was doing during the last previous regime when the rot of tiger deaths set in. It is the present state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that has stepped up measures for tiger protection.
The constitution of STPF is being undertaken in a limited area. It is yet to be seen whether it meets with success in the wake of nexus between poachers and officials and enormity of the work.