Nainital (Uttarakhand): Corbett Tiger Reserve authorities have issued shoot-at-sight orders and pressed two drones into service after movement of poachers was reported along the southern fringes of the park. 150 forest guards have been deployed and camera traps installed at sensitive points within the territory of the park to keep a tab on suspicious movement.
The steps follow reports of increased movement of poachers in the park’s most sensitive southern border, director, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Parag Madhukar Dhakate said. “150 forest officials with shoot-at-sight orders have been deployed and a total of 388 camera traps installed in the area to conduct a five-day operation to remove any suspicious elements from Corbett," he said.
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The shoot-at-sight orders have been issued in keeping with a 2003 government order which permits such operations to be held in order to save wildlife, he said. “Villagers of the area have been informed of the same and advised to avoid taking animals for grazing to the core areas of the jungle," said Dhakate.
Visitors to the park will now be subjected to extensive frisking, he said. Even after a recent Uttarakhand High Court order prohibiting the killing of tigers, panthers or leopards on the pretext that they are man-eaters or holding them captive for reasons other than medical care, the tigers still face a grave threat to their lives because of poachers, he said.
This further contributes to the already decreasing population of tigers which has called for such stern measures, he said. Intelligence agencies had tipped off Corbett authorities recently about an increased movement of a dreaded gang of poachers (Bavariya gang) along the southern fringe of the tiger reserve.
Two drones will also be pressed into service as part of the operations to keep an aerial vigil on any suspicious movement in the protected area, Dhakate said. Corbett is one of India’s oldest national park and is the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973.