Real Conservation in Action

Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on


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NGOs working with the Karnataka Forest Department removed over 100 wire snares from Bandipur-Nagarhole using the simplest of devices... a magnet attached to a stick to find the snares.

What a solid initiative. It is time that such quiet work was taken up by more individuals and organisations, in conjunction with the foot patrolling protocols of different PAs. One of the reasons that poachers have got the upper hand in the past two decades is fact that the World Bank's Ecodevelopment Project began to shift the attention of protection staff away from patrolling to "rural development" in one form or the other. Millions of dollars were borrowed and lost. Lots of vehicles and computers were purchased. But the simple... forest block by block patrolling was forgotten. It hardly helped that State Revenue Departments refused to allow new recruitment, so the average age of forest guards began to rise. Expecting 50 year old guards to patrol their beats day and night was like asking porcupines to fly. The result? Young and motivated poachers ruled the forests, while the protection staff retreated... even as meetings were held in Washington and Delhi where lofty resolutions were passed. Reclaiming paradise will not be difficult. As a first step it needs us to bury our differences for a few years, refocus on foot patrols, fill vacant posts, train and equip younger guards and hit back at poachers the way they do in Kaziranga and Orang. The tiger, or rhino, or elephant do not need our sympathy they need our involvement in the protection of their habitats... from poachers and from leaders who have learned to steal money through mining, timber felling and by gifting forest lands in exchange for votes.


 Wildlife activists who have been combing the state's two major forest reserves - Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks - over the past eight months have found more than a hundred metal snares and spring traps laid mainly for the tigers and leopards.

It's an alarming find, especially considering that NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) has cautioned the state forest department against the entry of tribal people from Madhya Pradesh into state.

It is estimated that around 180 tigers live in these reserve forests.

The snares were detected and removed by the activists of the Anti-Snare Perambulation (ASP) drive being carried out by Voice for Wildlife Trust and Wildlife Trust of India in association with the state forest department and Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) sleuths.

A snare is like a land mine which remains active for years. "Snares remain active for a long time and are always a threat to wildlife, especially tigers and leopards," said Sudheer K S, managing trustee of Voice for Wildlife Trust. "We have recovered over a hundred of them from Nagarhole and Bandipur national parks during the past eight months. This is an alarming figure."

The drive was launched in Bandipur and Nagarhole in last September with an aim to search and remove the snares laid on the forest paths spread over an area of 1,500 square kilometers. The exercise includes walking on forest paths on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Each team has around 20 members including volunteers of the two NGOs, forest department staff and STPF sleuths and covers around 20 km every week.

The exercise is being conducted up to two kilometres from the boundary of forests. The teams have so far recovered over 60 live snares, 45 snare holds, and 25 spring traps, said Sudheer.
"I's definitely an effective move. A new group of volunteers have joined us in the drive. However, not all snares are laid by poachers to hunt tigers. They are also used by local villagers to trap small animals and are put in the morning and removed in the evening," said