KOTTAYAM: The forest authorities have strengthened security measures to clamp down on poaching in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) region. The move comes in the wake of the sighting of a bison carcass in the Periyar West division recently, which exposed large scale poaching in the region.
The special team constituted by Chief Wildlife Warden Surendrakumar in PTR has commenced activities to stop poaching. The team - headed by Periyar West Division director C K Haby, Kottayam Divisional Forest Officer Y Vijayan and Idukki Flying Squad DFO Shanty Thomas - has launched joint combing operations in Erumeli and Azhutha Ranges.
“We have constituted two sub-teams to ensure continuous combing operation in the forest. As part of this, the nine-member teams enter the forest once in a week and stay there for two nights and three days as part of strengthening field perambulation,” Haby told Express.
While one team monitors Kanayamkavayal, Mathamba and Koruthodu areas under the supervision of the Erumeli Range Forest Officer, the other team under the Azhutha Range Forest officer keeps a tab on areas in Sathram and Pullumed. Each team consists of three each flying squads and beat forest officers and watchers.
They will be connected with M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tiger-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status), an exclusive tiger monitoring mobile application developed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, for effective combing operation.
With this app, the higher officials can easily monitor the activities of the patrolling team as well as locate the remaining areas to be covered. “After completing one month of combing operation, we will review the progress and then make necessary changes, if needed,” Haby said.
Each team has already completed two combing operations in as many weeks. This will be strengthened in the coming days. “This apart, directions have been given to the Erumeli Range Forest officer to investigate the poaching incidents here, which were exposed after the arrest of 10 persons in connection with the poaching reported at Seethakulam in Azhutha Range recently,” Haby said.
The Forest Department has taken the poaching cases in PTR with utmost seriousness as the reserve is one of the important tiger sanctuaries in the country. Forest authorities are of the view that any disturbance like poaching in the reserve may lead to the vanishing of tiger population here, which may destroy the entire eco-system in the Periyar National Park.
“Unlike other animals, tigers do not tolerate even small scale disturbances and soon leave the forest. This will affect its co-habitants like leopard, wild dog and bears and the entire system may fall in trouble,” said an officer.