Thursday, June 14, 2007

Insurance for 'protectors' of Gir lions


Insurance for 'protectors' of Gir lions

Times of India


NEW DELHI: Their job is to protect the endangered Asiatic lion, whose only habitat is the Gir sanctuary in Junagadh. Now, forest staff in this wildlife reserve — which has witnessed 19 lions deaths this year — can bank on some protection themselves.


The conservation organisation, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), has initiated a insurance scheme to cover frontline forest staff in Gir and other wildlife reserves of Gujarat against death and injury. A sum of Rs 1 lakh will be given in case of death, permanent total disability and permanent partial disability due to accidents on duty. The insurance premium is borne by WTI.


"This will be a great morale booster for staff," said Victor Meckwan, under-secretary (wildlife). With eight of the 19 lion deaths in Gir due to poachers, conservation officials hope this will embolden forest staff to tackle offenders. "Frontline forest staff face risks while dealing with poachers and rescuing carnivorous animals," said principal conservator of forests Pradeep Khanna.

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