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International standards of patrolling taught to guards

Guwahati, March 16: Kameswar Boro and others have been patrolling the wilds of Manas in the same traditional way all these years. For the first time in their career, forest staff were given a stint in international standards of patrolling in which there are different patrol formations for different vegetation and different situations.

There are basically two standards in international patrolling. There is an extended line patrol formation when the grassland is more or less of the same height as that of a person with average height. Such a formation allows team members to be in visual contact.

On the other hand, when the grassland is taller and denser and blocks visibility, there is a single-row patrol formation.

Kameswar and his colleagues were part of a two-week training programme on basic patrolling techniques and data management for the forest staff of Manas National Park. It was held at the Bhuyanpara range from February 29 to March 12.

The training was given under the Integrated Tiger Conservation Programme of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with help from Wildlife Conservation Trust of India, NGOs Awely of France and Panthera, besides the BTC forest department.

The programme promises to double the number of tigers at Manas in the coming decade. "New innovations were taught to foresters who were earlier used to the traditional style of working. The forest staff have learned a lot during the training and covered a large area of the park, which is very satisfactory. We shall provide all necessary support to this team of forest guards to continue their improved patrol," field director, Manas tiger reserve, H.K. Sarma, told The Telegraph.

The official said the training was a perfect blend of classroom sessions, live exercises, role plays and extensive patrolling inside the park that helped them emerge as more skilled and "confident comrades" of conservation and protection.

Training a group of young men on serious patrolling techniques, combat, first aid and animal attack involves a lot of active work. "It has been a wonderful learning with new tools and techniques offered by the experts and we look forward to implement the learning very soon," forester of Manas National Park, Mrinmoy Hazarika, said.

The participants were taught specialised combat skills by use of which any offender can be rendered harmless and taken physical control of within seconds. A Belgian Shepherd sniffer dog, Babli, and two dog handlers have also been included. "No entry" signs with strong messages have been put up at all major points to inform people that this point onwards, it is a national park and their entry is illegal.

An electronic database is being compiled with the data collected during patrolling, of the offenders that are found to illegally enter the park premises. The database contains everything - the offenders' identification marks, fingerprints and contact details.

For trainer Craig Fullstone of Panthera, this has been a rewarding time. "I genuinely and sincerely state that this is the most enthusiastic group of men I have trained in my entire career. We have had no absences and no excuses even after all the rigorous patrolling," Fullstone said

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