BHUBANESWAR: Old is still gold for the Wildlife Wing of Odisha Government which has issued an advisory to wildlife sanctuaries asking the wardens to instruct their field staff to stick to foot patrol during day time.
The ground level staff - foresters and forest guards - have been asked to patrol their respective jurisdictional areas preferably on foot, or by bikes and cycles. Four-wheelers should be used only for night patrolling since it is absolutely necessary after dark, the advisory has said.
Sources in the Wildlife Wing said the advisory is meant to lay stress on the old patrolling practices since it works out best for protection measures. Traditionally, forest guards and foresters used to cover dense and interior pockets of the habitats on foot which kept the poachers and smugglers at bay. Though they covered smaller areas, foot patrolling was key to touch important pockets of the forests.
“Now with more vehicles deployed in the divisions and laying of improved roads in the protected areas, the field staff are seen more in the arterial parts while the vulnerable areas remain uncovered,” said a senior wildlife officer.
Experts though are of the opinion that sticking to foot patrol may reduce the average coverage area of the ground staff which may affect protection efforts. While the advisory is to stick to foot patrol, the field staff have not been barred from using two-wheelers and cycles which would give them access and speed.
Apart from protection, what the advisory aims to achieve is to give the field staff more opportunity to sight wildlife directly as well as indirectly.
“If you look at the age profile of forest guards and foresters, the rank is now increasingly getting filled with young staff and fresh recruits. They need to learn how to record wildlife directly or through indirect sighting by reporting various signs,” the official sources said.
The Wildlife Wing is also working on a plan to send the young ground staff of wildlife sanctuaries on exposure trips to tiger reserves to give them more on-field experience which will help them understand the flora and fauna.
The Forest and Environment Department has recently recruited 340 forest guards and 600 foresters who will be soon inducted into duty while more recruitments are on the anvil.
However, since training facility in the State is extremely inadequate, it could take years to complete the process which may prompt the Department to first induct them and then allow them to receive on-field training. The new measures are expected to facilitate the process.