Saturday, August 22, 2009

Underpaid van sahayaks a threat to lions?

Underpaid van sahayaks a threat to lions?
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

The attack on JB Vadi, range forest officer of Adhala, has revealed that despite several poaching incidents, lions are being guarded by people who are not only taking their jobs casually but are actually indulging in illegal practices.

Officials said the government had appointed over 130 van sahayaks after the 2007 poaching incident involving eight lions. The intention was to strengthen security of lions in Gujarat.

However, Thursday's incident has revealed that van sahayaks, who are paid just Rs 2,500 per month, are vulnerable to corruption. Van sahayak BG Savalia allegedly took money and allowed people to enter without permission.

A person can enter the sanctuary without legal permission, but has to pass through in the given time frame. But, by taking bribes van sahayaks are allowing people to get into the protected sanctuary and get out from the same check post. This is the practice in the stretch towards Tulsishyam where people want to stay the night.

Another officer said this was very dangerous for lions. A poacher can easily get into the jungle by paying a bribe and disappear.

There would be no record of his entry. Earlier this week, a cub was reportedly found caught in a trap. According to an official it was the work of a local or a novice. But, beat guards and van sahayaks had not noticed this.

"What can we expect from a person who is paid just Rs 2,500 per month. This is a paltry sum as the job of a forester or beat guard is a 24-hour on," added the official.

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