The Similipal Protection Committee, constituted by the Wildlife Wing, has impressed upon the State Government to expedite the recruitment of personnel for the Similipal Tiger Protection Force (STPF) so that it can be operational soon.
The STPF which was constituted in May is yet to take shape since the recruitment, training and other procedures like cadre formation will necessitate an amendment in the rules which are still being chalked out. A 112-member force, headed by an Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF), the STPF will be deployed for protection of tigers in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR).
The Government, on Wednesday, was reported to have approved three ACF posts, one is likely for the STPF. The Committee, headed by former Chief Wildlife Warden Saroj Patnaik, took stock of the protection measures in the tiger habitat and discussed the shortcomings. The panel will visit Similipal to conduct an on-the-spot assessment of measures.
During a review of the vacancies in STR, the panel found that the recent recruitment has led to increased strength of manpower in the protected area though the number of ACFs and forest guards need to be augmented. Against the sanctioned strength of nine ACFs, four are vacant and 23 forest guard posts are yet to be filled up. In other levels such as DFO, range officer and forester, the strength has gone up significantly.
At the meeting on Tuesday evening, issues of poaching and complicity of local tribals were discussed. The recent incidence of poaching has made it clear that the hunters were aided by local tribals and identifying and motivating them against the killing will be a big challenge, the committee felt.
A proposal to post a full-time veterinary assistant surgeon in STR was also made to help the management rescue animals in case of an outbreak of some disease and treatment of rescued animals.
Chief Wildlife Warden JD Sharma, an expert from Kerala, Field Director of STR and two DFOs participated.