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apid Response Unit come to Periyar Tiger Reserve

The mobile telecommunications service provider Aircel and the national English news channel NDTV teamed up with India’s premier wildlife magazine Sanctuary Magazine and the Wildlife Conservation Trust to conduct campaigns, awareness programs and fund-raisers to generate funds that would be used to strengthen tiger protection in Tiger Reserves across the country. As a novel initiative, the funds generated were used to provide Rapid Response Units [RRU] to equip and train Forest Departments to respond during emergency situations like man-animal conflict, anti-poaching patrolling, fire-fighting among others. The Rapid Response Unit consists of a modified Mahindra Bolero Camper with facilities to store a wide range of equipment such as GPS devices, mobile phones, torches, field knives, axes, a generator, sleeping bags, knapsacks, a stretcher, field shoes and much much more. All in all, the RRU has been designed to deal with any emergency arising in and around the Tiger Reserve, at short notice, and to strengthen anti-poaching activities. Some of the main features of the RRU are:

1.Up to 17 forest personnel can reach the problem/conflict area in minimal time.

2.Equipment for tranquilizing wild animals in cases of human-wildlife conflict issues have been provided.

3.Up to six forest guards can camp in remote areas for 3-5 days without any additional support.

4.Several personal-safety-devices have been provided on the vehicle to protect the squad from injury through encounters with wild animals and people alike.

5.Staff can stay connected through walkie-talkies provided with the RRU.

6.It will act as an emergency vehicle, which the villagers can summon in case of any
wildlife-related problems.

In late January, 2012, the RRU provided to Periyar Tiger Reserve arrived at Thekkady and was taken for its first test drive by the Hon. Minister for Forests, Sports and Cinema, Sri. K. B. Ganesh Kumar. The Hon. Minister was greatly impressed with the vehicle and the facilities provided and spoke about the need for providing such vehicles in all the Protected Areas of the state.

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