| File picture of a tiger in Namdapha |
Guwahati, July 30: A microlight aircraft will soon be hovering over Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, helping forest staff in surveillance and protection of big cats in the country’s easternmost sanctuary.
The Centre’s decision to introduce the microlight aircraft at Namdapha was announced by minister of state for environment and forests (independent charge), Jairam Ramesh, at a conclave of tiger reserve directors held at Sariska in Rajasthan on July 25 and 26.
“The announcement by Jairam Ramesh at the Sariska meeting is a big development for us as over 30 per cent of the reserve is not accessible through land routes,” Namdapha’s field director Yogesh told The Telegraph.
Yogesh had attended the Sariska meeting which deliberated on the challenges being faced by tiger reserves across the country.
An official in the ministry of environment and forests said over phone that the minister has taken keen interest in getting the microlight for Namdapha as “he has a soft corner for the Northeast”.
The total area of the Namdapha tiger reserve is 1,985 square km, spread over hills and dense forests.
Yogesh said the number of tigers in Namdapha, as estimated in the 2006 census, is 14 but pugmarks of four “new” tigers have been sighted in the last couple of months by an expedition team.
Once Ramesh’s plan is implemented, Namdapha will be the first tiger reserve in the country to get a microlight aircraft.
“There are different types of microlight aircraft whose costs vary. A final decision is being taken on this issue,” a ministry official added.
The official said a couple of other tiger reserves are likely to get similar aircraft for surveillance.
Incidentally, Namdapha is among the three tiger reserves in the Northeast — the other two being Dampa in Mizoram and Manas in Assam — which were graded “poor” by the National Tiger Conservation Authority recently.
Encroachment by the Lisu tribe and militancy are stated to be major problems in Namdapha. Both the factions of the NSCN also have camps in the park.