New Delhi, Aug 3 (UNI) Close on the heels of a massive haul of tiger bones and traps from neighbouring Gurgaon, the Centre has expedited the process of creating a Tiger Protection Force which is to be placed under tiger reserve authorities in various states.
The Home Ministry held a meeting here this week to take the process ahead, sources in the Wildlife Crime Bureau(WCB) told UNI.
Wide consultations would be held with the states concerned.
WCB recently seized 20 kg tiger bones and a large number of traps from Gurgaon with the help of the local police. The large haul and further investigation into the matter indicated that poachers were very much active, and their network went beyond the country.
Most of the tiger body parts are supplied to China for medicines, which has a large market in that country.
Besides poaching, tiger-human conflict due to increasing encroachment on the habitat of the wildlife is also a leading cause of the killing of tigers.
The decision to set up the force was taken by the Prime Minister last year after the latest tiger census showed that the population of the big cat in the country had been brought down by half since 2000 due to various reasons.
According to a survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the current tiger population was estimated to be just 1300-1500, down from 3,642 tigers in 2001-02 when the last study was done by the institute. It was found then that there were 1,576 tigers in reserves, and 2,066 in the forest outside the protected areas.
The Tiger Protection Force mooted after this revelation would be constituted on the lines of the Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF).
Though the force would be placed under the states, its expenditure would be borne by the Centre, the sources said.
The WII study, which had covered 17 Indian states with tiger populations, had found that there was marginal decline in tiger population in reserves and protected areas, but in forest areas outside the reserves, the population registered a sharp fall.
The report had said that the protection status in these reserves was not adequate due to various reasons like paucity of staff, ageing of staff and lack of modernisation and funds.
For the proposed tiger protection force, services of the ex-army personnel would be sought. They will be helped by a native workforce.
After the WII census report, the Centre has been making efforts to place Indian Police Service officers as head of the Wildlife Crime Bureau, and for the time now the Bureau is being headed by IPS Reena Mitra.
WCB officials say having an adequate enforcement machinery in place was a massive task and it will take sometime before the Bureau plays the role expected of it.
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