The first of its kind in State, it will be equipped with material for emergency situations

The State Forest Department has started an ‘Anti-Depredation and Disaster Management’ centre in Valparai in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR).

The centre equipped with all material required for handling any disaster is the first of its kind in the State, say wildlife authorities.

Located at Rotti Kadai, about six kilometres from Valparai town, the centre is between the town and the forest areas in the ATR. Mitigating man-animal conflict and to rescue wildlife in distress were the two main objectives of the centre. Equipment such as alarms, ladders, sirens, ropes, trapping cage, medical kit for both humans and animals, stretcher, gum boot, snake rescue hook and nets, masks, metal detectors, life jackets and light control batons and a vehicle are available.

A total of 16 anti-poaching watchers come in two shifts and stay at the centre. During the day, one batch is given rest and in the night, the entire team is awake to undertake any operation. Last week, a herd of elephants appeared at Kavarkal near Valparai town. The squad swung into action in controlling the crowd that gathered. While one set of watchers controlled the traffic, the other members in the team drove the pachyderms back into the wild.

Rajeev Srivastava, Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, ATR, said P. Muniandi, an ex-serviceman, who was a trained commando, was imparting training to the anti-poaching watchers. The training included rope and rock climbing, rescuing an animal in distress, communicating in times of emergency and other exercises. Discipline is the first and foremost quality required for the training, he observed.

Mr Srivastava said most of the material required to mitigate an emergency were stocked at the centre. The department is planning to procure a small boat, which could be useful to rescue humans or animals that get stuck in a water body.

Welcoming the creation of such a centre, naturalists said more such centres should be started in various tiger reserves in the State. Such centres would surely bring down the number of incidents of man-animal conflict.

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