CHENNAI: The love for the forests and the long walks braving the abnormal weather conditions’ patrolling the thickets of Mudumalai with an only objective to protect the forest and its wildlife has not gone in vain.
Three tribal persons, designated as anti-poaching watchers by the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve authorities, have been recognised by the National Tiger Conservation (NTCA) Authority. The NTCA, the apex body coming under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests recognises field staff for their dedication in protecting the big cats.
As part of the Global Tiger Day celebrations falling on July 29, NTCA will reward the three-frontline staff for their extraordinary performance in protecting the tiger habitats. The anti-poaching watchers (APW) have been in this field for more than a decade and this is first time they are honoured, admit Forest Department sources.
The three APWs to be appreciated by the Centre include Bomman, B Kalan and Madhan. All of them are ethnic tribes of The Nilgiris. They have over 10 years of experience as anti-poaching watchers and nature of the job includes tracking of big cats, monitoring tiger kills, stray of wild mammals and preventing forest fires.
M Bomman, with 13 years of experience as APW is now a proud man recalling the role of APWs in forest management. “The government provides the basic requirements ranging from uniform, binoculars, GPS machines and search lights to us. The provisions and cooking items are also provided, but this recognition and appreciation means a lot to me,” said a jubilant Bomman.
“We take pride in protecting the forests and its wildlife. Though we don’t get adequate time to spend with family, life goes on perambulating the tiger reserve,” he added.
“We have gone through difficult situations, including being chased by wild animals, on the other hand they won’t harm us until we trouble them. We keep telling the trekkers not to scare the animals. It’s a happy moment to know that the Union Government and the state officials have recognised our work,” said B Kalan. This encouragement will help to serve with more passion,” he added.
However, it is not confirmed whether these APWs will receive the reward in person on July 29.
“Majority of the APWs are tribals, who have the knowledge of the forest and animal behaviour. The nature of the job is hectic and they provide the basic intelligence for the Forest Department. Most of the time these foot soldiers are not rewarded and this is a welcome decision by the NTCA,” said N Balaji, an avid bird watcher.