Officials of Maharashtra's tiger reserves get lessons in site security

Written By Unknown on Senin, 23 Februari 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Officers of the Special Tiger Protection Task Force (STPF) who keep vigil at tiger reserves in Maharashtra are receiving lessons in site security training from international experts in law enforcement. The force is employed at the Pench and Tadoba-Andhari reserves.

The course began Monday, February 23 and will end March 3. Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) in association with Panthera has invited experts to conduct the seminar which it claims is the first of its kind.

Twenty four STPF officials, 12 from each reserve, have been handpicked for the course by their field directors. The sessions cover various aspects of patrolling, including patrol tasking and planning, camouflage, concealment and crossing obstacles. The staff is being trained in basic self-defence and will learn to communicate properly while working in a team.

The goal of course is to reduce the incidence of poaching. Dr Anish Andheria, WCT president, said, ""We are here to support the forest department. Each STPF personnel who undergoes this training will be equipped to pass on his learning to other staffers in the department.''

The training programme is expected to achieve four-pronged results. Law enforcement in reserves will improve and staff will be able to respond to emergencies in a timely and effective manner. WCT says this is particularly important in conflict situations where staffers need to ensure that neither human beings nor animals are killed. STPF staff will become proficient in self-defence techniques and can train other members. Recently, an STPF guard suffered grievous bullet wounds during a hand-to-hand battle with poachers in the Pench Tiger Reserve. Panthera says properly trained frontline staff will be able to minimise injuries to themselves during hostile situations.

Both Pench and Tadoba-Andhari are part of the central Indian landscape which is reportedly home to 688 tigers as per the All India Tiger Estimation report. This is approximately 31% of the tiger population of India, making it one of the most important tiger conservation units in the world. Pench and Tadoba are the only two tiger reserves in central India to have taken the initiative to constitute the STPF dedicated to protecting wildlife and mitigating human-animal conflict.

WCT has also donated patrolling vehicles and equipped anti-poaching camps. Its wildlife crime prevention training programme is part of the core curriculum in forest training institutes in Maharashtra and MP. This workshop has benefited over 4,000 guards in protected areas across the country. Similar seminars will be held in other reserves as well, and the first batch of trainees will be involved as training assistants in future programmes. A follow-up session will conducted for these 24 officials in October-November 2015 to assess and reinforce their skills. Conservation Trust,Tiger reserves,Special Tiger Protection Task Force,Maharashtra

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