The Indian Army has been conscripted in the fight to keep its national animal, the tiger, safe from poachers.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority requested soldiers to help them monitor potential poachers along the Indo-China border areas of the country. This comes after the NTCA’s request for the use of drones and CCTV cameras hear high security zones was rejected by the Ministry of Defence.
The NTCA, a statutory body under the country’s ministry of environment and forests, was denied permission by the defence ministry to place drones near international borders and areas by housing defence installations and ammunition depots.
While the NTCA is already using drones and CCTVs and virtual fences to monitor tigers in and around the country’s 44 reserves, it wanted permission to use high tech to provide access in areas where forest guards do not have access to such as difficult terrains and dense forests.
In those areas where forest officers are denied drones, the NTCA now wants armed forces to help with tiger monitoring.
We are preparing a formal proposal which will be sent to the defence ministry by June. We have asked them if their men can fly the drones and collect information regularly in sensitive areas. They can inform the forest officers immediately if they have any suspicion or see human movement inside the core areas,” – senior NTCA official.
But whether or not the defence ministry will allow its soldiers to operate drones is unknown. The request had been made before for soldiers to use drones in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park. Last year, a large number of one-horned rhinoceroses were killed by poachers last year.
The defence ministry denied the use of drones based on security grounds.
But the tiger conservation authority is pressing on with another request because it has shown that drone have been successfully used in tiger reserves in other places and is arguing that a shortage of forest guards requires them to find other innovations to save tigers.
India is home to the largest number of tigers in the world and according to the 2010 tiger census, there are 1,706 tigers in the wild.
Poachers remain the biggest threat to tigers. In 2013, 67 tiger deaths were reported.
Already this year, 22 tigers have died of various reasons.
h/t: New Indian Express