Quick reaction teams in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve to prevent man-animal conflict
In order to mitigate the chances of man-animal conflict during winter, the officials of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) have constituted six quick reaction teams (QRTs) that will remain on the alert round the clock and respond in case of tiger sighting and attack.
“In recent years, we have observed that tiger attacks usually go up during the winter. Keeping this in mind we set up the QRTs,” said divisional forest officer (DFO) of PTR Adarsh Kumar.
Aided with state of the art equipment and mounted on SUVs, the QRTs will be deployed at places across the forest from where most of the man-animal conflicts are reported. “Each team will comprise four people headed by a forest ranger. The team will have flash torches, nets, first aid kits, firearms and crackers to scare away the tigers,” informed the officer. The teams have been provided with all terrain SUVs that will allow them to reach the trouble spots easily.
The teams have been equipped with modern radio communication sets and will remain in touch with the command centre being set up at DFO office. The control centre will work in tandem with local authorities.
“In many cases, it is seen that the forest staff requires assistance of local police. In that case, the control centre will coordinate with the police and call if their support is needed,” the DFP said.
The officials have also formed a dedicated team that will run the QRTs. Members of the team will be excluded from most general duties.
People living in the villages located close to the tiger reserve can call for help in case of a tiger sighting or attack. “Locals can either call us directly or they can call the local police who will forward the information to us,” said the officer.
The forest department recently held a meeting with the heads of villages near the forest and informed them about the QRTs.
“The QRT is for the safety of people. We have sought their assistance in reporting target sightings and other encounters so that we may react with minimum delay,” the officer said.
With over 20 deaths in tiger attacks since last year, the tiger reserve has turned into a hotspot of man-animal conflicts. A very narrow buffer zone and agricultural practice close to the forest boundary add to the danger of these attacks.
Beside the QRTs, the forest officials also propose to build a fence at places where villages are located too close to the forest. The plan, however, is still to take off due to lack of funds.