National Tiger Conservation Authority Current Affairs - 2020

Kaziranga National Park: Special Rhino Protection Force deployed

An 82-member Special Rhino Protection Force which is trained to combat poachers and understand animal behaviour was recently deployed in Kaziranga National Park (KNP).

About Special Rhino Protection Force

Background: The process of setting up special force was initiated in 2015. In July 2018 members recruited were given appointment letter after which they were trained at Forest Guard School in eastern Assam’s Makum. All recruits also underwent weapons training at 9th Assam Police Battalion in Nagaon district of Assam.

SRPF: Basically SRPF is a tiger protection force that was named after the rhino since threat of poaching is more for one-horned herbivore.

Raised by: This Special Force has been raised by initiative of both central as well as state governments so as to control rhino poaching in tiger reserve. The state government of Assam would be paying salaries of SRPF members and amount would be reimbursed by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which recommended setting up of this special force.

Members: It consists of 82 personnel among whom eight are women. Out of 82 SRPF personnel, 60 have been assigned ranges under Eastern Assam Wildlife Division on southern bank of river Brahmaputra.

Task: SRPF personnel will be posted under 8 ranges of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) to control rhino poaching as well as protecting striped cat (tiger poaching) since Kaziranga is also a tiger reserve.

About Kaziranga National Park

Background: The 430 national park is located in Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam. In 1968 it was given National Park status and in 1985 it was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) for its unique natural environment.

Known for: It is home to World’s largest population of One Horned Rhinoceros i.e. about 68%. The one-horned rhinoceroses are listed as vulnerable on IUCN Red list of Threatened Species. It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species.

It encompasses 8 ranges under two wildlife divisions: (1) Eastern Assam and (2) Biswanath along the river Brahmaputra.

Cheetahs from Namibia to be kept at Nauradehi Sanctuary: NTCA

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has stated in the Supreme Court that Spotted Cheetahs being translocated from Namibia would be kept at Nauradehi sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

NTCA even stated that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)  has given no objection for the translocation and the decision to reintroduce spotted cheetahs in India was supported by Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

Cheetah Extinction from India

India’s last spotted cheetah had died in 1947. In 1952, the animal was declared extinct in the country.

Cheetah Re-introduction Project

The central government had set up an expert panel for reintroducing the cheetah in India. The panel recommended that the home of the fastest animal could be Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh, Velavadar National Park in Gujarat and Tal Chapar sanctuary in Rajasthan.

NTCA, a statutory body under Union Environment Ministry had committed Rs.50 crore to State for this project in the year 2011. Cheetah Re-introduction Project was conceived in the year 2012.

But the activists went to the Supreme Court against the decision. Supreme Court appointed a panel to review the project. The Supreme Court appointed panel advised against the reintroduction citing India does not have habitat and prey density” to support cheetahs. The report even accused government-run institutions of “incorrectly compressing” data to get the approval of the apex court to seek the reintroduction of the big cat from Africa. As a result, the project had gone into dead storage.

In the year 2018, the government of Madhya Pradesh wrote to NTCA to revive the project. The NTCA has approached the Supreme Court seeking a clarification that there is no blanket ban of the apex court on re-introduction of cheetahs in the country.