Learning from the past fire outbreaks in forests, the Forest Department has prepared a strong team of 80 tribal youths to take on those indulging in anti-forest activities.
As many as 80 tribal youths have been appointed on a regular basis as forest watchers and in anti-poaching camps (APC) which are playing a significant role in preventing miscreants from setting fire to the forest. These brave tribal youths, who are familiar with the forest, are capable of working round-the-clock, braving any threat to protect the forest and wildlife.
Ganesh (27), working in the APC at Nagarahole, has studied up to SSLC while his fellow worker 20-year-old Ravi is a school dropout from DB Kuppe Haadi and Dileep, who studied up to the 7th standard, is a native of Nagarahole Haadi.
In one such instance, youths of the APC in GM Hally of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve helped the Forest Department arrest timber smugglers.
In another incident, a forest squad nabbed the lorry driver, who entered the national park illegally, from Karmad check post after chasing him down on Thursday.
“Director of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve R Gokul appreciated the bravery of one Mahantesh who fired at timber smugglers in the night. Don’t fear, I am here for you. These words of the director enhanced the confidence of the youth. Otherwise he would have left the job fearing threats from the smugglers,” said Mahesh, a forester.
As part of the preparations to mitigate the crisis in the forest, Gokul took the local communities into confidence and sought their cooperation, saying that the forest is the wealth of all. While interacting with them, he assured them of protecting their crops from the wild animals, besides giving compensation in case of any damage to crops.
Another official said: “We should compromise in some issues if we want to tackle a crisis effectively. Though there was no provision for providing food to temporary employees, we are providing food to the locals involved in the fire watching. Ensuring payment of their wages in time is another measure by the officials.” Protecting wild animals will be very difficult in the future as the outside population is increasing,” said Gokul. The department is focusing on modifying the wireless network and confidence building measures among the anti-poaching camps with involving local communities, Gokul added.