Tiger tracking affected as animal trackers, watchers not getting regular salaries

Adilabad: Tiger tracking activities have been seriously affected as animal trackers and watchers working on a contract basis are not getting salaries regularly. Their salaries are “pending for the last ten months” in AP in general and Komaram Bheem Asifabad in particular.

The animal trackers and watchers are doing their jobs by risking their lives – and for meager salaries.

Negligence on the part of the district and division-level forest officials in supervising tiger conservation and their movements is noticed. Negligence on the part of the field-level staff in tracking the tigers also came to light following the death of two tigers and the missing of other tigers.

Animal trackers and watchers get a salary of Rs 12,000 and have difficulty running their families while working under pressure from the higher-ups.

Watchers have been recruited for the base camps in the deep forests. They are meant to check acts like timber smuggling and keep track of poachers' movement, if any, in the forests. They are also expected to keep track of the wildlife, including tigers, in their jurisdictions.

An animal tracker of Komaram Bheem Asifabad district said they and the watchers were recruited under the centrally sponsored state tiger project (CSSTP) and the state afforestation project. “But we are not getting the salaries on time. This is affecting our morale,” he said.

The watchers have to cook their food on their own with the ration provided by the forest department at base camps and take rounds of the area allocated for them.

The state government is allocating a budget for these activities, but the funds have not been released for a long time. Even the central government reduced the funds under CSSPT as the state is not releasing the matching grant.

Thus, tiger conservation, wildlife tracking, and wildlife conservation are being affected in the state in general and the erstwhile Adilabad district in specific.

Tiger conservationists stressed the need to increase the number of animal trackers to monitor the tiger moment in view of the increased presence of resident and migrating tigers in the Kagaznagar forest division. This is considered a corridor between the Kawal Tiger Reserve and the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve of Maharashtra.

The field staff are under pressure since the area they have to take care of is vast as far as tiger tracking is concerned and new tigers keep migrating into the same area.

A complaint is that the district and division-level forest officials are trying to save their skin and wash their hands of incidents like the death of two tigers. In the process, they are trying to make the field-level staff a scapegoat.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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