The State Forest Department is planning to install six more thermal cameras in Corbett Tiger Reserve apart from installing four thermal cameras in Rajaji national park.
According to the chief wildlife warden SS Sharma, with the Government of India according its permission for converting Rajaji into a tiger reserve, a proposal has been submitted to the State Government which will now have to issue a final notification to finalise this development.
In view of these and other factors, the department has planned various measures to strengthen wildlife security. Though the department is happy with the results of installing thermal cameras, People for Animals Uttarakhand has alleged anomalies because the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing was not consulted on the surveillance products to be used.
It is worth mentioning here that more than 200 tigers are believed to be living in the forests of Uttarakhand while at least three suspicious tiger deaths have occurred this year in the Corbett tiger landscape. Nine thermal cameras are already installed along the southern boundary of Corbett.
Sharma said, “These cameras have improved wildlife security as people are now conscious and poachers think twice before intruding because they know that they are being watched. We plan to install six more thermal cameras in Corbett and four in Rajaji. The National Tiger Conservation Authority is monitoring the work which has achieved positive results. With the Central Government approving our proposal for turning Rajaji into a tiger reserve we are strengthening wildlife security. A tiger protection plan worth Rs five crore from the Gola corpus fund has also been made for Haldwani, Terai East, Terai West, Terai Central and Ramnagar forest divisions,” he said.
Responding to allegations of anomalies in installation of thermal cameras, he said, “What does the IIRS have to do with this? The work has achieved good results and elicited appreciation. Recently the Tamil Nadu Forest minister and principal secretary, Forests had also visited Corbett and appreciated this system,” he added.
PFA Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi said that the Forestry and Ecology department of IIRS has expertise in this sphere.
“In stead of consulting IIRS scientists, the forest department officials are using technology and products which might not be best suited for the task, simply to secure kickbacks from the deals. With the department suffering from considerable staff shortage, simply installing thermal cameras will not achieve the desired improvement in wildlife security if the images from these cameras are not monitored to facilitate swift and necessary action against wildlife criminals and intruders,” she stressed.
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