Friday, April 06, 2007

Forest officials step up vigil on border districts


Ahmedabad Newsline


Vadodara, April 4: FOLLOWING recent incidents of poaching of lions in the Gir region, forest officials have stepped up vigil on the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan border areas in Dahod, Panchmahals and Vadodara districts, which have a significant leopard population.


The forest department is also keeping tabs on the movement of a tribal community from Katni district, in Madhya Pradesh (MP) who traditionally move around on inter-state forest routes between MP and Gujarat to collect minor forest produce which have medicinal purposes and are believed to also engage in poaching activities


Vigilance has been intensified at Dahod, Panchmahals and Chhota Udepur forest ranges near Gujarat's borders with MP and Rajasthan. A sizeable population of leopards is found on the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border, and some cases of poaching have been reported from these areas in the past.


Apart from keeping a close watch on the forest routes between the states, the forest officials are also keeping tabs on the transport services, and closely monitoring the highway check posts and local tribal movements.


Talking to The Express Newsline RK Sugoor, Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), Baria forest division, Dahod district, said that early morning checks and late evening vigils have been increased on the forest routes between MP and Gujarat. "Attention is being focussed on Dahod taluka, Jhalod taluka, Baria taluka, Sankheda taluka and Fatehpura taluka forest range on the MP border," said Sugoor. There are regular check points in these five forest ranges, but forest authorites are keeping a special watch on Vasiya Dungri, which is a forest route between MP and Gujarat, he said.


There are three main check posts at Panchmahals forest division, which includes the Khanpur, Kadana and Santrampur forest ranges, which have the maximum leopard population. The areas would be under heavy surveillance, said forest authorities. Some months back, poaching cases were reported from Kadana and Santrampur.


Also, forest officials say they will be keeping a close watch on movements of the members of a nomadic tribal community from MP. Incidentally, in June 2003, some members of the tribal community from MP were nabbed at Chhota Udepur forest range, Vadodara circle.


The Chief Conservator of Forest, Wildlife Research, H S Singh, who was Vadodara Conservator of Forests in 2003 said that these tribals are nomadic and they kill birds in forests for food. "They move with families. While women gather food, men hunt animals," said Singh.

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