| Pakke tiger reserve. Picture: North Bank Landscape Programme-WWF |
Guwahati, July 26: It will be a moment to treasure for the 40 members of the Pakke tiger reserve strike force on Monday when they get thank you cards from across the world in recognition of their impeccable wildlife protection record.
They received the third highest number of messages in the world, preceded only by a tiger reserve in Indonesia and Kanha in India. After all, theirs is a record that is not easy to beat — keeping the reserve free of poachers since the force’s inception in 2008.
Each card, received from various corners of the globe as part of WWF-India’s Cards4tigers campaign (panda.org/cards4tigers), is a pat on the back for each of these ex-armymen and local youths who have kept poachers at bay since they stepped out into the jungle five years ago.
In a postcard from New Zealand, Liam O’ Connor said, “I think you are doing a wonderful job in trying to stop poaching.”
In another from Australia, Nyla and Vernon Vaz said, “Thank you for protecting our forests, our wildlife and especially our tigers from poachers and from all other threats and dangers they face.”
The event is the Global Tiger Day that is observed annually on July 29 to raise awareness about and support for conservation of wild tigers. Several countries, including India, Bhutan, China, Nepal and the UK, are observing the day with various activities.
WWF-India is holding five events simultaneously in four tiger landscapes to honour forest guards as well as to raise awareness regarding the challenging work they do for tiger conservation. All events are being held jointly with the forest departments concerned.
In Arunachal Pradesh, parliamentary secretary (department of science and technology) N. Rebia, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) N.N. Zhasa and Pakke tiger reserve divisional forest officer Tana Tapi will attend the event. Students will present the postcards received from around the world to the strike force members.
The venue for the two-day programme will be the V.K.V. Boys School at Seijosa near the reserve. On July 28, various competitions, including skit, painting and story writing, have been planned involving students from four schools near Pakke. The prizes will be awarded the same day.
“We intend to bring young students and the hard-working strike force on one platform so that they can exchange knowledge. The students will also become aware about the efforts being made to protect the very important wildlife reserves,” Pallavi Chakraborty, project officer (species) WWF-India, North Bank Landscape Programme, Tezpur, told The Telegraph.
Pakke wildlife sanctuary is located in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and continues south, connecting to Nameri tiger reserve in Assam. It was declared a tiger reserve in 2002 by National Tiger Conservation Authority of India and is the 26th tiger reserve in the country. Six individual tigers were camera-trapped in the reserve during a recent monitoring exercise conducted by the forest department and WWF-India.
Development activities, poaching and indiscriminate illegal logging, leading to habitat loss, are some of its most prominent threats. But the forest personnel have never let these factors harm wildlife in the reserve.
“A ‘strike force’ comprising former army personnel and local youth, well versed in guerrilla warfare and having extensive knowledge of jungle craft, had been set up as a quick action team. They have done a good job of protecting the reserve. Most importantly, there has been no poaching incident in the reserve in the past five years,” Tapi said.