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Paramilitary: Fighting For The Tigers
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January 10, 2012: India is in the process of giving combat training to a battalion worth of game wardens in order to protect 1,700 tigers from poachers. Some 500 game wardens are being trained to serve in units of the Special Tiger Protection Force and nearly a third are already on the job. The three month "commando course" is a combination of combat training, how to handle weapons, and survival in the jungle. This includes training in tracking down small groups of poachers. Half the tigers on the planet are in India, where 19 special tiger reserves are set aside for the rare big cats. The paramilitary forest guards of the Special Tiger Protection Force are charged with finding and arresting, or killing, all the illegal hunters in the special tiger reserves.

Often the poachers go after the game tigers feed on. The lack of prey sends the hungry tigers out of the reserve into populated areas. There, the tigers are a threat to people and are often shot dead (either by game wardens or local hunters). So the Special Tiger Protection Force goes after all poaching inside the tiger reserves. This is where the combat training comes in, because poachers usually travel in groups and have gotten into the habit of firing on game wardens, to scare them away. If that doesn't work, game wardens are sometimes killed by poachers.

The Indian approach to aggressive and heavily armed (often with AK-47s) poachers is not unique. African nations have been having the same problem for decades. In some African countries, the use of paramilitary game wardens has solved, or at least greatly reduced, the poaching problem.

The reason so many modern poachers are carrying assault rifles and ready to shoot it out with game wardens is because the animals they poach are very valuable. It's all about East Asian cuisine and folk medicine, and the growing number of wealthy East Asians who will pay a lot of money for particular parts of rare animals (tigers, rhinos, bears). Then there's the elephant and their ivory. While the trade in ivory is illegal, this does not stop the demand (via poachers and smugglers). Out of all this new demand we get combat trained game wardens and game reserves that often look and sound like combat zones.


Next Article → SUBMARINES: It's Worse Than It Sounds

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TG1533       1/10/2012 9:45:35 AM
Isn't it just cheaper to legalize the farming of tigers on private land?
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JFKY       1/10/2012 10:28:31 AM
Isn't it just cheaper to legalize the farming of tigers on private land?
Shhhh! Bite your tonge, that's crazy talk....
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bikebrains    Big Cars   1/10/2012 11:48:01 AM
"Half the tigers on the planet are in India, where 19 special tiger reserves are set aside for the rare big cars."  should read  "Half the tigers on the planet are in India, where 19 special tiger reserves are set aside for the rare big cats."
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heraldabc    SUVs are an endangered species, too.    1/10/2012 11:50:01 AM
Fair is fair.
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antares    Just what we need   1/10/2012 5:05:13 PM
Just what the world needs: game wardens with commando training.
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trenchsol       1/11/2012 5:46:29 AM
Last week a leopard (not tiger) killed one and wounded five in an Indian city. From what I understand it is not some small town, but a large urban center.
A person who was killed was a lawyer talking to a cell phone. Perhaps a new round of lawyer jokes may be expected.....
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Reactive       1/11/2012 6:29:36 PM
The future doesn't look good for the Tiger imho, the Indian Govt has done nothing to curb the cultural desire to have unsustainably large families - which means breaking taboos like contraception etc, has an incredibly arduous and ineffective criminal justice system where trials take years with a low conviction rate (bribery etc) and of course sentencing is weak.
So it's pretty much inevitable that the remaining wilderness (even reserves) will gradually be reduced to a size that is unsustainable or where pollution is so great that few prey species can live there - Tigers need a large range to be successful in the wild and the critical point where numbers are in terminal decline has probably already happened - so ironically it will be captive breeding programmes elsewhere that save the Bengal Tiger.
So thanks to the Chinese treating absolutely anything that moves as a delicacy (I've experienced this first hand) or grinding it up into a traditional remedy for just about anything (particularly sad seeing huge bags filled with seahorses), and the Indian state's incredible inefficiency this Bengal Tiger subspecies is probably doomed in the wild - the irony being that if the PRC actually gave a damn about the animal it would be relatively easy for them to stop their portion of the tiger products trade - as with Pandas where interference or harm is now a capital offence. 
It's funny that a country for whom the Tiger is a key national symbol that India has done so damn little up to now, I doubt this will make a bit of difference, there's just not enough habitat left to protect.
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