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Special force in 13 reserves to save tiger



THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS
Imran Khan, 27th August, 2009

BANGALORE: Alarmed over the spate of tiger deaths in the country, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has planned to raise a Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), on a par with the Central Paramilitary Forces, for the protection of tigers in the country. Initially, out of the 37 tiger reserves, the NTCA has selected 13 reserves where STPF will be deployed, with Bandipur in Karnataka also being earmarked for three platoons of the STPF.

In a letter addressed to all the chief wildlife wardens of the 13 tiger reserves, NTCA chairman Rajesh Gopal has mentioned that due to the endangered status of the tiger, a Special Tiger Protection Force needs to be raised. He added it will be done with the active involvement of the forestdwelling communities.

Giving details, the chief wildlife warden of Karnataka B K Singh said, ?Recently a meeting was convened in this regard, where we discussed about the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF).? Singh said each of the three platoons to be deployed at Bandipur will consist of one range forest officer (RFO), six foresters and 30 guards. Singh said all three RFOs will come under the tiger force assistant conservator of forests, who will head the company.

Though STPF would comprise of only forest personnel, but around 30 % of the Special Tiger Guards would comprise of forest dwellers. Singh, however ruled out any ex-army people being part of the force.

BK Singh added, an annual budget of around Rs 3 crore has been set aside per company and a total of around Rs 50 crore for all the 13 companies.

He said within 15 days, everything will be finalised and in six months, the recruitment will be completed.

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