Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve’s strategy to prevent poachers from neighbouring State

Officials of the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) in Erode district are in the process of preparing a problem profile for each range.

At present, the STR has five Ranges – Bhavani Sagar, Hasanoor, Sathyamangalam, Thalavadi, T.N. Palayam. Of the five ranges, three are sharing the inter-State border with Karnataka, where the issues relating to poaching have to be monitored and controlled.

According to Forest Department sources, for nearly a distance of 60 km, the reserve has a boundary with Karnataka forests, and poachers used to cross over to Tamil Nadu side after poaching wildlife.

In the first week of this month, the officials seized crude bombs from three poachers, who were later arrested. “In order to control such incidents in the future, the profile is being prepared. The officers are interacting with the field staff such as Rangers, Foresters, Guards and Watchers to prepare the profile,” said a senior forest officer.

Two divisions to be created

Already, a proposal has been prepared to create two divisions in the Tiger Reserve. While there will be one division headquartered at Sathyamangalam, the second will be Hasanoor, for better management and protection. An officer in the rank of Deputy Director will be posted in each division. Similarly, there is also a proposal to increase the number of ranges.

For example, in the existing set up, Bhavani Sagar is one of the biggest ranges.

This will be divided into two. Similarly, while forming the new ranges, two ranges will be exclusively kept for eco-development works. Under this, the department will take up many activities involving local community, including tribals.

Vacancy in field staff

The STR, spanning over 1.40 lakh hectares, also faces the problem of manpower shortage. At present, about 60 watchers are working in the five ranges. This has to be increased to 85. As far as forest guards are concerned, the available strength of officials is about 80 with 35 posts remaining vacant. A total of about 20 foresters are working in the five ranges. There are three vacancies to be filled.

One of the senior officers concedes that the proposals were already sent to the government for filling vacancies. As the STR was notified only six months ago, it would take some more time for the department to get the required number of field staff, the officer adds.