Vigil to be increased against illegal electric fences, snares

electric fences
The carcass of a leopard which was electrocuted.

Hyderabad: Following the recent incidents of death of humans and wild animals from electrocution, including the use of electrified snares by poachers who killed a tiger in the Kawal Tiger Reserve, the State Forest Protection Committee has decided to increase vigil against the menace of illegally erected electrified fences and snares.

For the first time, officials of the power distribution companies in the State were also invited to the meeting this past weekend which discussed the issue, among several others.

The meeting, attended by senior State government officials along with Forest and Police Department heads, also decided to recommend to the government the setting up of two specially trained and armed Special Tiger Protection Force companies, comprising 112 personnel, one for Kawal Tiger Reserve and the other for Amrabad Tiger Reserve in the State.

It may be recalled that back in 2015, the National Tiger Conservation Authority had in 2015 approved the setting up of STPFs for Telangana. The STPF will be tasked with daily monitoring of tigers, tracking their movements in the two reserves and trained for rapid action in the event of poaching threat to the big cats.

Close monitoring
With respect to curbing illegal electrified wire fences, the meeting decided that in addition to the Forest Department already coordinating with the Police Department to curb poaching and wood smuggling, it will take the help of the two power distribution companies in all forest areas to monitor tripping of power, which usually occurs when an animal or a human comes in contact with such a fence.

“It was also decided that if any of our personnel find illegal power drawing through wire hooks, they will inform the local power department officials who will then book cases under provisions to curb pilfering of power,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests PK Jha told Telangana Today. “At the district level too, from now on, the forest protection committees will include local electricity officials and forest range officers as they are the ones who have direct knowledge of field situation,” he said.

Widespread menace
The menace of illegally electrified fences is widespread in the State and they are usually erected by farmers trying to prevent deer and wild boars from raiding crops. In some instances like the ones that saw light in Pembi Forest Range of Kawal Tiger Reserve recently, poachers too resort to this method to kill wild animals.

Each year, hundreds of such electrified fences are removed in the forest areas in the State in addition to wire snares that are laid by poachers to kill wild animals, including big cats.