Protection Staff Workshop, 2011
The next morning we left for Rasimanal for the first batch training along with Sanjeev, Ananth and Aparna who joined us at Anchetty FRH reaching a few minutes before the scheduled start time of 9 a.m. However, hardly any of the participants had arrived and they all trooped in gradually and changed into their uniforms and the workshop began at around 10.30 a.m..
After lunch, Mr. Praveen Bhargav spoke about some of the key provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act and how the staff should use them. A demonstration on usage of weapons and their maintenance was given. Real-life situations, when staff have to use weapons in the dark, were enacted by blindfolding them and asking them to pick the correct weapon from the lot, pick the appropriate ammunition, check if the weapon is loaded or not, remove the magazine and load cartridges etc.
The workshop ended with a fervent appeal by Mr. Chinnappa to all the participants to do their job sincerely and protect the forests so that the next time he visits Melagiri, it will be thriving with wildlife. He also extended an invitation to all the participants to visit Nagarhole NP so that he could show that how a forest can be restored from the brink of destruction and also give training in field-craft.
After the workshop got over, ACF Madhu escorted us to Hogenekkal falls since Mr. Chinnappa had heard of this but had never seen them. Returned to the FRH after that and after a early dinner, we retired for the day. George joined us late that night at 11 p.m., completely drenched!
12th morning, though the program for the 2nd batch was supposed to begin at 9 a.m., was delayed by by the forest department staff. After confirming the timings with the Urigam Ranger, we reached Uganiyam at around 10.15 a.m. and began the session.
It was conducted on similar lines as the previous day. The only difference was that this set of participants seemed a little more aware of the WPA, were better able to handle the weapons and the sessions were more interactive.
Towards the end, ACF Madhu spoke from his experience and related couple of incidents to motivate the participants. Sanjeev gave the vote of thanks and handed over souvenirs to Mr. Praveen Bhargav and Mr. Chinnappa.
Handouts were given to all the participants containing important provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, Gun Safety guidelines. A copy of English & Tamil versions of 'The Truth About Tigers' DVD was also given to the participants, courtesy Mr. Shekhar Dattatri.
- Some of the staff from the 1st batch need training in weapon handling
- APCs are under-staffed and probably under-equipped also
- Checkpost is manned irregularly, probably only when some FD official is visiting.
- Watch towers do not have any watchers, including the new one just before Gerhatti
11th August 2011:
Hosur, Rayakottai and Krishnagiri Ranges. 45 guards/watchers/foresters. Officers: ACF M. Anandakumar, ACF A. Madhu, ACF Padma, RFO Vishwanathan (Anchetty)
12th August 2011:
Denkanokottai, Jowlagiri, Anchetty and Urigam Ranges. 35 guards/watchers/foresters. Officers: ACF M. Anandakumar, ACF A. Madhu, RFO Vishwanathan (Anchetty), RFO Ramachandran (Denkanikottai), RFO Soligounder (Jowlagiri and additional charge of Urigam)