ITANAGAR, Nov 23: After three people were arrested with a tiger skin at Biswanath Charali, in the northern range of Kaziranga Tiger Reserve on November 16, the officials of Pakke Tiger Reserve rushed to be part of the investigation, after reports of the tiger being allegedly poached from Pakke Tiger Reserve surfaced.
The Forest Department of Pakke Tiger Reserve has also taken a lead role in working with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau where they clamped down and arrested another highly organised poaching gang last month.
They recovered 44 bear gall bladders and tiger claws which were reportedly poached from all over Arunachal and were part of the route of well-oiled international poaching network.
“There will be zero tolerance and no stone will be left unturned to stop Arunachal’s forest and wild animals that are being massacred for commercial purposes,” said Tana Tapi, the Divisional Forest Officer of Pakke Tiger Reserve.
Middle-men have been arrested and the department is close on the heels of tracking the poachers who killed the tiger, as the middle-men reported that this tiger was from Arunachal Pradesh. The arrest and interrogation of the concerned poachers will confirm the location of the tiger killing.
In the meanwhile, the Pakke Forest Department already has a camera trap database of each tiger individual from the 10 years of rigorous camera trapping to ascertain whether the hunted tiger was a resident tiger or a dispersing young male into the adjacent forest. The department also plans to seek the help of the Wildlife Institute of India which has a database of 30,000 camera trap images of tigers from all across India to ascertain the location of the tiger.
The core of Pakke Tiger Reserve has active anti-poaching efforts that are conducted to secure this area. Consequently, animal population in the core has shown rapid prey and predator recovery from over-hunting in the past, tiger population is also showing a recovery.
Last year there was news of a tiger that had dispersed to the adjacent reserve forest in Papum and was killing cattle. Since the adjacent and buffer areas are also important for peoples’ livelihoods and wildlife, it is important to minimise disturbance so that humans and wildlife can co-exist in these areas. Working across forest divisions and Nameri Tiger Reserve adjacent to Pakke will help secure the future of this landscape that is under immense threat.
Joint patrolling between Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary and Pakke Tiger Reserve is already being conducted. The Khellong Forest Division actively participates in environmental education initiatives held by the Pakke Forest Department, and last year weapons’ training was conducted for the staff of Pakke and other staff from Nameri and Eaglenest. Much more needs to be done to protect this landscape which is part of the Eastern Himalaya Global Biodiversity Hotspot.
The staff of Pakke Tiger Reserve have been deployed for combing and anti-poaching operations that have been operating in full-force in the last week to stop the illegal timber operations that have been happening in the Papum Reserve Forest, adjacent to Pakke Tiger Reserve. The recruitment of Special Tiger Protection Force and the unified control of the buffer zone around the core of Pakke Tiger Reserve will help further strengthen protection measures.