Villagers to safeguard Ranthambore sanctuary


Jaipur : After deciding to recruit former soldiers to guard wildlife sanctuaries, the Rajasthan government is now planning to involve villagers to protect animals at the Ranthambore National Park.

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“The forest department has drafted a proposal under which youths living in villages near the national park would be entrusted with the task of protecting wild animals,” an official said.

The proposal would now be sent to the state government for approval. In the first phase, 225 villagers would be hired. Later the figure would be increased.

The department is of the view that crimes like grazing of cattle on forestland and felling of trees for firewood can be stopped if villagers become guards. The step can also curb poaching because villagers will become “informers”.

The process to appoint 1,000 ex-soldiers to help guard wildlife sanctuaries throughout the state has already begun. Rajasthan has two tiger projects, a bird sanctuary and 25 wildlife sanctuaries besides 32 “closed areas”.

“For the safety of wildlife and to curb the incidence of poaching, as many as 1,000 retired soldiers would be hired and deployed on a contract basis in various sanctuaries and national parks at a monthly remuneration of Rs.4,000,” L.N. Dave, Rajasthan’s forest minister, told IANS.

He said the former soldiers would be given intensive training and also be provided with firearms.

Though no official statistics have been released so far, sources in the forest department said that 125 security personnel would be deployed in Ranthambore, 100 in Sariska, 75 in Udaipur, 70 in Chittorgarh and 55 in Jaipur and Kota each.

The Ranthambore National Park sprawls across 640 sq km and has 63 forest guards, 10 assistant conservators and 15 foresters, while the Sariska Tiger Reserve covers 881 sq km and has about 74 forest guards and 25 assistant conservators.

Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary has 31 forest guards, eight assistant conservators and eight foresters.