In an attempt to curb poaching of tigers from the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR), “shoot at sight” orders were issued to forest department workers on Tuesday to gun down poachers spotted inside the tiger reserve.
However, the “shoot at sight” orders are to be exercised for “self protection against poachers carrying arms,” said the Director of the tiger reserve Parag Madhukar Dhakate.
A five-day anti-poaching operation was started in the Corbett Tiger Reserve on Tuesday morning after information from intelligence agencies on movement of suspected poachers into the tiger reserve from its southern boundary.
According to the tiger census data released in 2015, Uttarakhand with 340 tigers has the second highest tiger population in the country after Karnataka. According to wildlife experts the tiger population has gone even higher in the past two years.
“We received some inputs from the intelligence following which we have started an anti-poaching operation. Under this operation we have sealed the entry points of the Corbett Tiger Reserve at the North and South border. Our forest department officials 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 Mr Dhakate, such orders have been given by the State Chief Secretary in the past too for the protection of forest department workers.
Also, in the five-day anti-poaching operation sharp shooters have been placed at vantage points in the reserve along with 388 camera traps. Two drones, night vision equipment and 150 forest department workers will be used in the anti-poaching operation.
According to the data provided by the Uttarakhand forest department, 112 tigers have died between November 2000 and November 2016. This includes 56 natural deaths, 19 deaths due to mutual fights between tigers, 17 deaths in accidents and six tiger deaths in poaching incidents. “Our responsibility is to protect tigers for which the five-day anti-poaching operations have been initiated,” Mr Dhakate said.