The state forest department and the police will together tighten the noose around forest dwellers residing inside Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) and the Haridwar forest division. Over 100 such families still inhabit these forest areas, raising concern over the protection of wildlife.
On May 15, four persons were arrested with a tiger skin from Raiwala, adjoining Rajaji, of which two were forest dwellers. The arrest was an eye-opener for the state forest department. Considering it a stepping stone towards framing better strategy to monitor their activities, the department joined hands with the police.
“The role of forest dwellers in the seizure of tiger skin this month was shocking. We have planned to monitor their activities and seek support of police department as well,” head of forest force Rajinder Kumar Mahajan told Hindustan Times.
Rajaji, from where over 70 families of forest dweller have been rehabilitated, is still battling to remove another 70 families that are residing in its Chillawali and Gohri range. Haridwar too has over 30 such families, as per official records.
As the dwellers are well aware of the movement of wild animals, including tigers, leopards, pangolin and deer, it is believed their role could be larger behind wildlife crime.
“In the first place, any protected area shall be free from human intervention. Rajaji particularly is facing acute pressures of traffic and settlements and thus, special attention is needed for better conservation of wildlife,” Tito Joseph, programme manager Delhi-based Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) said.
Rajaji director Neena Grewal said she is trying her best to evacuate the reserve. “Dwellers are spread everywhere. There are about 70 more families inside the reserve, but we are working to rehabilitate them. We are also keeping eye on their activities and movement,” she told Hindustan Times.