The Uttarakhand government has decided to form a Special Tiger Force for Corbett Tiger Reserve, a move which will help serve as the much needed second layer of protection for the big cat.
The decision to set up the force was taken by the State Cabinet on Wednesday. The force will have 85 posts.
Chief Wildlife Warden Rajiv Bhartari said, “The STPF will be effective in checking illegal human intrusion into the reserve through villages located on its fringes and serve as a second layer of protection for tigers at the CTR”.
Illegal intruders from fringe areas have been behind poaching incidents in the reserve in the past.
“The need for such a force was felt by wildlife experts and conservationists for a long time, ” he said.
The decision is in line with Government of India guidelines for providing three-tier protection to tigers at reserves, Mr. Bhartari said.
The first layer of protection is provided in the inner range by beat level forest guards through regular patrols. The second layer of protection is what the STPF will take care of, he said.
The third layer of protection comes from intelligence-gathering mechanisms in which forest, police and central intelligence agency personnel work together to prevent crimes like the poaching of tigers, the official said.
“It is a long awaited decision. With the tiger population constantly on the rise at the reserve, the setting up of a dedicated force like this was needed. The STPF will indeed be of great help in conserving the population of 250 tigers at the reserve,” director of Corbett Tiger Reserve Rahul said.
The STPF will be deployed at the maximum on the extremely sensitive southern fringe of the reserve bordering Uttar Pradesh through which criminal elements keep trying to intrude into reserve areas, he said.