Corbett Tiger Reserve: Authorities issue shoot-at-sight order to thwart poachers

The Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) on Tuesday issued shoot-at-sight orders against poachers to prevent the killing of wildlife in the reserve, especially Tigers. But the orders were to be carried out only for “self-protection against poachers carrying arms,” CTR director Parag Madhukar Dhakate said, according to The Hindu.

The order was issued after movement of suspected poachers was reported near the southern boundary of the park, The Times of India reported.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We received some inputs from the intelligence agencies following which we have started an anti-poaching operation. We have sealed the entry points of the Corbett Tiger Reserve on the northern and southern borders. Forest workers have been ordered to instantly shoot any poacher or hunter seen with arms in the core critical tiger habitat zone,” Mr. Dhakate said, according to The Hindu.

The Hindu reported Dhakate saying that such orders had been given by the state chief secretary in the past too for the protection of forest department workers.

The order comes days after BBC faced being added to a government blacklist for its documentary, the subject of which was the killing of Kaziranga poachers. According to Indian Express, The BBC film, Killing For Conservation, explores what it calls the “dark secrets” of Kaziranga and examines if its war on poaching has gone too far. The film claims that forest guards have been given powers “to shoot and kill.” The Indian Express reported the Environment Ministry called the documentary's reporting “grossly erroneous,” along with severely criticising the BBC and recommending the blacklisting of its South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt for a documentary that highlights the government’s “ruthless anti-poaching strategy” for the Kaziranga tiger reserve.

A five-day anti-poaching operation was initiated following Intelligence information about the suspected movement of poachers.

According to The Hindu, in the five-day anti-poaching operation that is underway in CTR, sharp shooters have been placed at the important vantage points in CTR, 388 camera traps have been placed across the tiger reserve. Two drones, night vision equipment, and 150 forest department workers will be used in the anti-poaching operation.

The park, which on an average sees over 1,000 visitors daily, will remain open to tourists in all five zones -- Jhirna, Bijrani, Dhikala, Dhela and Durgadevi -- but they will be subjected to extensive frisking. "Tourists are informed that they will face strict frisking, which they should cooperate with," The Times of India reported quoting Dhakate. Also, Villagers in the vicinity of the park have also been told not to enter the forest area of the park for at least the next seven days. Over 100 villages are in the vicinity of the park and many villagers depend on the area for daily needs such as firewood.

At present, over 500 forest department personnel maintain a 24-hour vigil at the reserve. At least three incidents of attempted infiltration have been thwarted in the past three months, forest officials told The Times of India.

Between 2012 to March 14, 2016, 50 tiger deaths were reported from CTR, out of which 13 big cats were killed by poachers. Incidents of poaching of tigers and leopards have been on the rise in the state. According to the records of Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), the Uttarakhand reported a seizure of 22 leopard skins and bones in the first eight months of 2016.

Last December, the Uttarakhand High Court, in a landmark decision, had issued an order stating that no wild animals, including tigers, leopards, and panthers, shall be declared man-eater and killed in the state. It had also ordered that the wild animal that poses threat to human life should be captured alive by using tranquiliser gun in the presence of a veterinary doctor and released in a forest later.

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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2017 14:37:47 IST

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