The Indian government is hiring retired army personnel in a desperate effort to save the Bengal tiger from the organized poaching gangs which have decimated its population in the wild.
The plan, part of an effort to save the species from extinction, will have soldiers who have returned to their home villages paid to guard wildlife sanctuaries.
The announcement comes shortly before the Wildlife Institute of India releases its report on the state of the Bengal tiger in December. The report is an emergency survey commissioned following the extinction of the tiger in the Sariska reserve in Rajasthan, the result of poaching gangs. The report will show that the number of tigers in the wild has dropped sharply.
The plan to hire soldiers follows reports of problems in India’s Forest Service, where a lack of staff has resulted in poaching gangs operating with impunity. Soldiers, with knowledge of tracking, weapons, and enforcement, were seen as an effective, if not ideal, solution.
“It is not a ‘magic bullet,” said Belinda Wright, a leading conservationist, “But we believe the former soldiers can make a valuable contribution to protecting the most charismatic mammal on the planet. The entire world is now watching India to see how we deal with this crisis.”
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