Software to track forest guards tracking tigers

Ramesh launches software-based project that will help combat poaching


Neha Sethi | April 14, 2010

They keep an eye on tigers and now there is a software that will keep an eye on forest guards and also help them combat poaching.

“The objective of this software is to ensure that the patrolling done by forest guards is more effective and surveillance is done based on ground level information,” said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh as he launched a Monitoring System for Tigers’ - Intensive Protection and Ecological Status (“M-STrIPES”) on Wednesday.

The initiative comes against the backdrop of the alarming drop in the number of tigers in the country.

The software system has been developed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Zoological Society of London.

A pilot initiative will be implemented at six tiger reserves in two months.

The minister said it is a tool to strengthen interventions by field directors to control poaching. Ramesh said that the software will increase transparency in patrolling. Once the software is working, forest guards will not be able to generate data sitting in their offices, and will have to go in the field, Ramesh said. “All forest guards will also get personal digital assistants (PDAs),” he added.

Shortage of forest guards is another problem that most tiger reserve areas are facing, said Ramesh. “But most states have started recruitment in the last six months. Assam  recently recruited 400 forest guards, for the first time since 1992,” he added.

He said the average age of a forest guard is over 52. “So we want to recruit younger and educated forest guards, who will also be better equipped,” he said. The minister also said that the centre will give funds to the states to employ new forest guards.

The minister said the tiger census is on and will be completed by November this year. “Phase I of tiger census, which depends on field level information gathered, is 75 percent complete,” he said. Ramesh also said that phase II, based on satellite mapping, is also on.

A feasibility study on re-introduction of cheetah is also being carried out by the WII, Ramesh said. “Three locations in Madhya Pradesh, two in Rajasthan and one in Gujarat are being studied for the same. We are also in touch with South Africa on this,” the minister added.

On the issue of some states not notifying buffer zones, Ramesh said the prime minister has said that he will write to the chief ministers of those states. “The non-notification is not unintentional, as development activities are not allowed in buffer zones,” he added.

The minister said that a total of 80,000 families need to be relocated from core and buffer zones, out of which only 3,000 have been relocated till now. “Rs 10 lakh are required for relocation of each family and the centre will provide the funds for it,” Ramesh added.

He said that local people need to be involved in the Tiger Protection Forces being established. “Van Gujjars are being involved in the tiger protection force in the Corbett National Park,” he added.

Ramesh also added that unregulated tourism is as much a threat to tiger population as poaching is. “Corbett is an example,” he added.



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