The Tamil Nadu Forest Department will be focussing on modernisation of the department and adopting more technology towards conservation efforts, said Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forests, here on Sunday.
In her closing remarks at the Tamil Nadu Tiger Conclave organised by the Department as part of the Wildlife Week Celebrations, she said the government had received good response for the tenders it floated to introduce solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI), to prevent elephant deaths due to speeding trains in Madukkarai forest range. She said 23 bidders had responded to the tenders, which are likely to be finalised in a month.
The department is focussing on many digital initiatives, including the setting up of a digital archives and data centre, Ms. Sahu said, adding that the Forest Department staff, including the anti-poaching and frontline staff, would be sent abroad to get exposed to the best practices adopted towards conservation.
Experts spoke on different aspects of tiger conservation at the conclave. Rajesh Gopal, former Member Secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority and Secretary General, Global Tiger Forum, said the Project Tiger initiative turned the situation around from tigers gradually becoming extinct in the country to India having a thriving tiger population now.
He stressed the need for caution in tiger conservation, keeping in mind the carrying capacity and habitat quality of forests.
Ecologist A.J.T. Johnsingh of Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, highlighted the urgent need to remove exotic and invasive species from the tiger reserves, particularly in Tamil Nadu, where he said their growth was happening at an alarming rate.
Commenting on the recent efforts of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to rewild a tiger cub rescued in Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Ramesh Krishnamurthy, Scientist-E, Wildlife Institute of India, said that though his personal choice in the case would have been to take the tiger to a zoo, the efforts being taken with the cub could be an opportunity for Tamil Nadu to improve its knowledge and capacity for such rewilding programmes in the future.
Sanjayan Kumar from the Forest Department in Kerala spoke about the State’s experience in developing ecotourism initiatives in tiger reserves. A few frontline staff, including Kaalan, a forest guard, who played a crucial role in the capturing of the MDT 23 tiger in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve last year, shared their experience. He said that his father, who was helping the Forest Department in elephant conservation, was killed by a tiger many years ago.
The conclave was inaugurated earlier on Sunday by Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K. Ramachandran in the presence of Chennai Central MP Dayanidhi Maran, Egmore MLA I. Paranthamen, and Head of Forest Force in Tamil Nadu Syed Muzammil Abbas.