New Delhi: Voicing concern over rising cases of poaching, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said people's surveillance was the "real power" to check the menace and stressed that those living around sanctuaries should be involved in the effort.
"Poaching is on rise because people are greedy. We have to keep a tab on this. More than 73 tigers were killed in the last one year. It is a huge figure....Illegal trade and money are involved in it...One single horn of Rhino can fetch Rs 1 crore.
"We are killing poachers as well. If there are 23 cases of rhino poaching, we have also killed 22 poachers. That shows our resolve and how we are working in that atmosphere. People staying around are our important asset and must become our partners," he said addressing a meeting of Chief Wildlife Wardens of tiger range states and field directors of tiger reserves.
The Minister also released Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) on issues related to active management towards rehabilitation of tigers, orphan tiger cubs and tiger depredation on lifestock.
"We have decided to have special protection force for rhinos and we will be recruiting people. I will be visiting Guwahati and will ask the Chief Minister to fast track the process. But we will select people who stay around Kaziranga.
"They are friends of rhinos as they know what their movements are. Same is the case with tigers. If we have to create real protection mechanism, e-surveillance is important but people's surveillance is the real power. The essence of capacity building is how to partner with people," he said.
Noting that India has two percent of its landscape covered by 47 tiger reserves, Javadekar said that it was a "huge pressure" and one must take "utmost" care of it.
"Africa's population is 1.1 billion but their land mass is so vast. It is 20 per cent of the global landmass. We have 1.2 billion population but we have only 2.5 per cent of the world land mass. So there is a pressure. Therefore, our job becomes more challenging," he said.
The Minister lauded National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for the success of project tiger and the increase in the number of tigers.
"If 70 per cent of the tigers in the world are there in our country and in the last four years, there has been an increase of 30 per cent, NTCA has done it. Today what we have achieved as India has the largest population of tigers...It is a huge success story," he said.
Environment secretary Ashok Lavasa said that in the last few months, there has been a acceleration in the process of declaring eco sensitive zone (ESZ).
"Already the government has approved 102 ESZ for which proposals had been received from state governments. We are also in the process of declaring some more ESZ. We are hoping that by the end of this month, we would declare more than 200 ESZ," he said.
He said the new challenges are better management in some sanctuaries due to increased population and thought will have to be given to this.
There are also issues of of human-animal conflict which needs to be addressed.