BENGALURU: In a major step to tackle shortage of field staff, the state government has notified the creation of 3,085 additional posts in the forest department. As per a government order on May 9, 1,500 forest guards and 751 deputy range forest officers will be recruited to strengthen the conservation of tiger reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state between 2019 and 2024.
This decision was taken following recommendations submitted by PCCF Deepak Sharma’s Committee to revamp the department. In fact, this committee had submitted the report in 2015 and had recommended re-organisation of the state forest department, including review of various cadres. New forest divisions and new ranges were created to improve the administration in protected areas and special rapid response teams were set up to address the problem of man-animal conflict in affected areas.
A senior forest official said, “Additional posts of forest guards and foresters will be created in Nagarhole, BRT, Bandipur, Dandeli, Anshi, Bhadra, Kudremukh, Cauvery and MM Hills. Even sanctioned posts that are vacant will be filled up soon."Recruitment for 323 posts will be done this year while 613 posts will be filled next year. In 2022-23, 920 posts will be added.
With Karnataka having the highest population of tigers and elephants in the country, many protected areas have been witnessing forest fires, organised hunting and poaching and human trespassing. There are also conflict issues and wildlife attacks due to a shortage of field staff. Further, there are many ranges that are vast - ranging from 250 to 450 sqkm - and protection duties for the existing staff was tough and led to conflicts and other problems.
Welcoming the addition of more than 3,000 field posts, wildlife activists said this will go a long way in tackling the problem of manning tiger reserves by forest guards. Activists say three protected areas of Nagarhole, Bandipur and BRT will benefit immensely. With inter-state borders, these areas are facing rampant smuggling and poaching activities and the offenders often flee to the neighbouring states. Presently, with each forest guard allotted two to three beats, it is a difficult task for one person to contain poaching or human interference, especially in protected areas that are extremely large.