KOLKATA: The West Bengal government is in the process of recruiting 2,000 'van sahayaks' (forest assistants) from areas adjoining forested regions to reduce man-animal conflicts and prevent wildlife poaching and timber smuggling, a senior forest officer said on Monday.
They will ensure better coordination among forest personnel and locals, he said. "The 'van sahayaks' will also be part of 'hulla squads' to drive away wild animals straying into human habitations," the officer said.
The applications are being screened and candidates will be selected and employed in the 2,000 contractual posts in various divisions in south and north Bengal soon after the process is completed, he said.
"The 'van sahayaks' will act as the eyes and ears of the forest department. They will be motivated to work for protecting our natural resources and wild animals," the officer said.
Besides, the rapid response force of the forest department, which is already operating in several divisions, will be strengthened and better equipped, particularly in the forests of north Bengal, to prevent timber smuggling and poaching of wild animals, he added.