A Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) will be formed based on a recommendation by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to protect tigers in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiris, according to a senior wildlife officer.

A board would be set up with a member each representing the Central police forces and the NTCA to select the personnel for the armed battalion, the officer said.

The battalion will be headed by an officer in the rank of Assistant Conservator of Forests, and will have three Range Officers, 18 Foresters and 90 Forest Guards.

Of the total 90 Guards to be recruited, 30 per cent should be earmarked for local tribal youth. Recruitment for the remaining posts would be done through employment exchanges concerned. The training for the battalion would be imparted by a central paramilitary force. The NTCA would provide the financial assistance for imparting the training, the officer said.

To help the Board, the wildlife wing of the State Forest Department would identify tribals living in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve area.

The wing would also make arrangements for officials from employment exchanges to visit Mudumalai and register the names of youth selected by the Board. The Forest Department would notify vacancies to employment exchanges.

The proposal has been sent to the State government for its approval. The forest authorities are planning similar forces for the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Pollachi and the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tirunelveli district.

The tiger population in and around the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is denser than the other two declared Tiger Reserves.

Hence, the force was being introduced there first, the officer added.

Keywords: tiger reserveSTPF