India BARIPADA/BHUBANESWAR : The Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) management plans to use drones to track poachers movement and prevent hunting during Akhand Shikar.
More than 300 personnel including forest officials, tiger protection assistants and seven special squads have been deployed at vulnerable locations in STR and other forest ranges of Mayurbhanj district. Akhand Shikar is an annual ritualistic hunting pratice by tribals. It starts every year on April 14 and continues for a month.
Deputy Director of STR, Jagyandutta Pati said a drone camera has been provided by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to track poachers movement.
Three more drone cameras will soon be supplied by NTCA for the purpose. MODIS, a sensor satellite, is being used since last year to trace the exact location of forest fire and wildlife movement.
Pati informed that senior forest officials including Assistant Conservators of Forest (ACFs) are monitoring the exercise and Dehuris (priests) have been asked not to encourage hunting.
Every year, tribals from Udala, Kaptipada, Karanjia, Jashipur, Khunta Dukura, Shamakhunta sneak into the STR and hunt animals during this period.
Secretary of Forest Department, Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, visited the STR recently and discussed with forest officials about steps taken to prevent poaching during Akhand Shikar and forest fire besides employment generation for forest dwellers, supply of cooking gas and relocation from Similipal.
The STR, spreading over 2,750 sq kms in three districts of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Balasore, is one of the largest national parks in the county. According to last animal census done in 2015, there are 509 elephants in the three territorial forest divisions and the STR core.