Special force pill for Namdapha
- Evaluation experts suggest involving Lisus to prevent poaching
Guwahati, Dec. 5: A rapid field evaluation on Namdapha tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, conducted by experts, has suggested to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) the need to have a separate protection force by members of the Lisu tribe, who have excellent knowledge of the terrain to help in detection of poachers from Myanmar.
The conservation authority has categorised Namdapha as a poor tiger reserve and had asked experts to carry out a rapid appraisal.
The expert committee report, which was recently submitted to NTCA, said there could even be an agreement with the Lisu community that they would take an active role in preventing hunting and other disturbances.
“There can be forest camps every 10km with regular staff posted along with members of the Lisu community,” the report said.
The team opined that Namdapha tiger reserve is of immense value from biodiversity point of view as it also shelters tiger and other key animals. Illegal hunting is a serious threat to wildlife in the park, and is prevalent among all tribal groups.
The report said poaching was likely to be among the primary factors resulting in the current decline in Namdapha, which is located along the international border with Myanmar and close to hotspots of trade in animal body parts.
“In Myanmar, there is a documented decline of tigers because of hunting for trade. Hunting of tigers is a significant threat to the persistence or recovery of tigers and other large carnivores in Namdapha,” it said.
There are 84 families staying in eight villages in the core area of the tiger reserve. It says contingency staff for protection squad should be hired from local communities, rules on educational qualifications should be relaxed as this often hampers the selection of the right people for forest patrolling duties. The best people for this work are often uneducated, but skilled in the jungle.
Not only in regard to recruiting local people, the committee has also called for a change in attitude of the forest department as there has been a long history of blaming the Lisu with poor efforts at understanding their problems or dialogue.
The committee feels this mindset needs to change to move forward positively to solve the park’s problems.
The biggest problem is in relocation of Lisus outside the park as the leaders of the community have indicated that they were not willing to settle for the Rs 10 lakh compensation and would want adequate land to be notified and demarcated for them in lieu of the occupied land in the park.
Settlements inside the park came up since 1997-98.
“All these problems have also been exacerbated by the remoteness of the area with no road connection, poor communication and infrastructure, low staff strength and motivation, poor official interest in the park with very limited action/management on ground. These also results in further deterioration of morale and functioning of the lower field staff,” the report said.