Sensing that the current security structure at two tiger reserves in the state is inadequate, the Maharashtra government is planning to raise a special task force to protect the animals and current forest guards from poachers.
The state finance department has given the nod to create this force in two tiger reserves of the four in the state.
Stating this on Friday, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Dineshchandra Pant said: "The state finance department has decided to give the green signal for the special armed force."
"In addition to setting up the special armed force, the state government has decided to strengthen the wildlife wing, for which the number of posts will be increased," Pant added.
The force's mandate will also be to reduce man-animal conflicts in areas abutting the sanctuaries.
Of the tiger reserves in Melghat, Sahyadri, Tadoba and Pench (bordering MP), the last two will get the protection force. The two together have about 65 tigers.
Each will get 112 additional armed personnel, including 96 forest guards, 12 foresters, three range forest officers and one assistant conservator of forests. The state police department will train them and they will be paid by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
Apart from weapons, the tiger task force will be provided with terrain vehicles.