Monday, January 19, 2009

Most forest circles cannot handle emergencies

Most forest circles cannot handle emergencies
Express India By Shubhlakshmi Shukla

Vallabh Vidyanagar (Anand) The absence of the Rescue Task Force (RTF) with Anand district forest officials has exposed a major lapse on the part of the Forest department in tackling incidents such as the one on Sunday. It is mandatory for the forest department in every district to have a regular veterinary doctor who has the licence to use tranquilisers. But Gir sanctuary is the lone place equipped with facilities such as the RTF and veterinary doctors.

Anand forest officials on condition of anonymity said that they had to make 20 phone calls to get the tranquilisers. Also, they could manage only one expert from the Sayaji Baug zoo. Anand, which is a non-forest area, has no territorial or wildlife forest circle. This forced social forestry officials to call experts from Vadodara and Sayaji Baug. Officials from the nearby forest circles had tranquiliser guns, but all the darts were outdated. A forest official of the Vadodara circle said, "Such incidents are rare. While we had a tranquiliser gun with the Baria division, all the darts were outdated. Besides, tranquiliser guns are very costly, with one dart costing nearly Rs 1,000." At the Anand Veterinary Hospital, none of the doctors has the licence to use tranquilisers. Dr R G Jani of the hospital is a Wildlife Health Coordinator for the Western zone appointed by Government of India. He too does not have the licence. When asked, he said, "It is the Forest department's responsibility."

Forest officials, on the other hand, shrugged off responsibility, saying they never expected such an incident. It may be mentioned here that a leopard had been spotted at the Anand-Borsad Road earlier also.

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