With growing concern over dwindling population of big cats in the country, a specialised tiger protection force is being set up in the Corbett Tiger Reserve, considered one of the best parks for the endangered species.

The Corbett Tiger Protection Force would assist the existing staff of the national park, nestled in the Kumaon region, in keeping a close watch on poachers, Uttarakhand Principal Chief Conservator of Forest R.B.S. Rawat said.

The raising of a separate and specialised force is in line with Union Environment and Forest Ministry’s efforts to save the tigers, whose population has dwindled over the years due to growing incidents of poaching and shrinking habitat.

Since there is a healthy population of more than 160 tigers in the Corbett Park, as per the census carried out by Wildlife Institute of India (WII), it has been selected for initiation of the force on a pilot project basis, said Mr. Rawat.

After studying the impact of this force in Corbett, the oldest national park of the country, the initiative would be replicated in other national parks having tigers.

Van Gujjars, who are living in the vicinity of the Corbett park, would be part of the 112-member force.

“Out of the total people recruited, 27 people would be taken on contractual basis and 30 per cent of those taken on contract would be the local people,” he said.

The force would be headed by Field Director of Corbett National Park and would comprise officers at various levels including those assigned to maintain a watch.

The force would be operational by January next year.

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