JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.

| Last Updated:12/09/2019

Latest News

Archive

Poachers turn gamekeepers in Simlipal reserve

The Pioeer, New Delhi, 18th June, 2013
 
Once notorious for poaching and hunting, Simlipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha has created a history of sort. For the first time, no case of hunting was reported from the reserve during the traditional tribal hunting festivals extending from April to June. In the past, hunting cases would often peak up during this period.
 
Innovative measures undertaken by the authorities and vigorous combing operations have kept tab over both poaching and hunting. The reformed poachers are also being inducted in protection mechanisms of the reserve, which had been in news in the past for mass poaching of elephants for their tusks.
 
The cornerstone of this success story, according to Anup Kumar Nayak, Field Director STR, is “creating opportunities for direct participation and involvement of local people through innovatively devised strategies.”
 
The local villagers residing at the fringes of the reserve are from the tribal communities. They used to go for hunting in a celebrated way between April and June, when two major tribal hunting festivals — ‘Akhand Shikar’ and ‘Rajo’— are held. Hunting is believed to be an essential part of their rituals.
 
Animals like chital and sambar, which essentially form the prey base for the big cats, were hunted for bush meat during these months for community feasting, informed Nayak.
 
However, for the first time this year, the reserve management in order to wean away local villagers from hunting, organised contests and events including archery on the most vulnerable days of the festivals. The winners were rewarded handsomely. “The objective behind this was to constructively engage the local villagers, away from hunting, along with incentives,” added Nayak. 
 
Such steps are accompanied by intense combing operations, which is done by Simlipal Tiger Protection Force (STPF) consisting mainly of local villagers. It was put together by Bhanumitra Acharya, Honorary Wildlife Warden, STR, a decade ago. “ Besides building up an extensive information network, these members of STPF have been instrumental in motivating their fellow villagers against hunting and poaching,” Acharya said.
 
“Former poachers like Dhanu Ram Soren, who once led a group of 1,300-1,400 local villagers, have been inducted in protection squad by the forest department on a regular salary,” Acharya said. He has nabbed a number of poachers in STR and has been instrumental in their transformation.
 
“We are also strengthening eco development committees in the reserve that would not only motivate the local villagers from poaching but also generate sustainable options for livelihood for them,” Sanjukta Basa, also Honorary Wildlife warden of STR, pointed out
 
Sangram, a local organisation, is working with the forest department to bring back the poachers to the mainstream of development. However, the biggest challenge for the forest department is to maintain these reforms and prevent the villagers from reverting.