India – The state forest department has decided to have one more zone for effective monitoring of wild life sanctuaries in the state. This will be which will be the north Gujarat zone – fifth in the state. Wild life sanctuaries like Wild Ass Sanctuary, Nal Sarovar and Thol will come under this zone.
This move comes after the forest department set up a task force in the aftermath of lion poaching incidents in Gir. Officials in the department felt the need to adopt a focused approach, backed with technology since resources in the Gir sanctuary were over-worked.
Now, the department has carved out north Gujarat as a separate area for better forest management. Eleven new posts, including that of conservator of forests, will be created for upgrade of national parks and sanctuaries in north Gujarat area.
Forest officials say that there was a possibility that Jessore sloth bear sanctuary in Banaskantha too might be covered in this zone. Officials said that a provision of Rs 4.61 crore has been made for the use of modern technology for the conservation of wildlife in sanctuaries. It includes the cost of engaging a consultant for the development of specifications, system requirement study, development of geographical information systems (GIS) database, and control room applications along with hardware and software.
Officials further stated that while the ground staff in the Gir sanctuary will be provided with geo-communications hand-held field units, a Gir management cell will be set up for the implementation of special measures in the lion-specific areas of Saurashtra.
A senior official said that so far the control over wild life zones was not uniform such that an official in Junagadh would be covering the wild ass sanctuary over a jurisdiction extending up to Velavadar in Bhavnagar. Chief conservator of forest ML Sharma says this new zone will strengthen the administration and will also help in proper co-ordination . Moreover, it will help in closely monitoring the situation.