The Department of Forests and Wildlife is planning to embark on a number of protective measures this year to safeguard the flora and fauna of the newly-opened Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary.

A management action plan, prepared for the conservation of the ecologically important destination spanning across 74 sq. km, proposes to set up two wireless stations at Kakkayam and Athikode for strengthening surveillance, besides setting up two new forest stations within the limits of the sanctuary.

Divisional Forest Officer Joseph Thomas told The Hindu on Saturday that the department would utilise a fund of Rs.30 lakh during the current fiscal to begin the protective measures in the region. The construction of a section head quarters was also proposed in the management action plan to coordinate the activities, he added.

New wireless sets would be given to forest guards to strengthen the existing communication system. According to officials, altogether 10 wireless sets would initially be bought for the staff, who are now part of the Peruvannamoozhi forest range.

It has also been decided to renovate the roads leading to the sanctuary by utilising a major portion of the sanctioned fund. New vehicles will be purchased to ease the work of forest guards who presently depend on a patrolling jeep and a few motor cycles.

“It is also proposed to buy a pick-up van for the relocation purpose of stray animals,” said Mr. Thomas. At present, the forest department has no special facilities at the sanctuary to save the animals straying from the forest region. To strengthen surveillance in and around Kakkayam dam premises, a patrolling boat worth Rs.4 lakh will be purchased by the forest department. Presently, the guards are depending on a single boat for the patrolling purpose.

The government has already earmarked Rs.15 crore for undertaking various protection activities in the sanctuary for the coming 10 years. Although the eco-tourism initiatives too will gain thrust utilising a portion of the fund, the main focus will be on freeing the location from external interferences.

According to officials, the existing staff strength is also likely to go up with the creation of new posts on completion of the developmental activities in the region. Presently, service of 30 forest personnel from Peruvannamoozhi range is available for safeguarding the sanctuary, they say.

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