Visakhapatnam: Unlike many other tiger reserves and reserve forests in the country, the tiger reserves in TS and AP don’t have armed forces to protect the tigers from poachers. Many of the forest staff forest rangers have no weapons, while the poachers are well equipped with weapons.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority had sanctioned a Special Tiger Protection Force for both the tiger reserves in Telangana years ago but the state government has not implemented it. Though there is an increase of six tigers according to the 2018 census, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have lost three tigers this year. Two seizures??? took place in Telangana from the poachers and the tiger death in Andhra Pradesh is still under scrutiny.
When poaching activity was evident with the seizure of two tiger skins in January this year, the Telangana forest department revived the proposal for a Special Tiger Protection Force and sent it to the Government of Telangana. However, there is no news of any such force being appointed so far.
A forest official in Telangana said, “Forest staff should get weapons. In the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, they are moving towards helicopter patrolling to curb poaching of rhinos. Armed security is deployed with shoot at sight orders. Karnataka has given firearms to the staff and they can open fire whenever necessary. Even when forest officials in Telugu states get weapons, it is not that easy to open fire and the officer who does will have to undergo lots of enquiries. The governments should focus on the security of wild animals.”
The Andhra Pradesh forest department has decided to distribute pump-action guns to its staff. At present, the guns are being used in Red Sander areas to fight the smugglers....