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The year 2012 has been a difficult year for tigers with reports of 48 tiger deaths so far, with 16 lost to poaching (Source: Traffic). Aircel-NDTV Save Our Tigers Campaign has made some humble efforts by providing Rapid Response Units to tiger reserves across the country in the Year-I of the campaign. In Year-II the campaign takes one step further and will attempt to begin the creation of the "Tiger Defense Unit" in major tiger reserves across the country.

The Tiger Defense Unit is a composite of men and machines that will work in tandem and will strengthen the existing protection mechanisms in India's tiger reserves. The Field Director of the Tiger Reserve will be the administrative and technical head of the TDU. He or she will be supported by credible experts, non-government wildlife organisations, scientists and administrators.

A key component of the TDUs will be the Rapid Response vehicles provided to tiger reserves as part of Phase One of the Save Our Tigers last year. Additionally, the campaign will also support other NGOs and individuals working in tiger reserves to monitor the TDU and strengthen the forest department.

The funds raised during the television programme will be utilised for:
  • Monitoring the RRUs from Phase-I.
  • Strengthening and equipping guard outposts (chowkies) inside core areas, and in the buffer zones of tiger reserves.
  • Training and orientation of teams of forest officers and staff appointed to use the Rapid Response Units (RRUs).
  • Providing fresh set Rapid Response Units (RRUs) to parks that have notified buffer zones or are in the process of installing the STPF.
  • Support for non-government wildlife experts and organisations whose track record in working for specific tiger reserves has been well established.
  • Establish and implement protocols for effective patrolling, training, and monitoring of TDUs.

Rapid Response Unit (RRU)
A strike component of the Tiger Habitat Defence Unit: The RRU will comprise a modified off-the-road vehicle, manufactured by Mahindra and Mahindra, which is meticulously outfitted by the Wildlife Conservation Trust to address emergency situations in tiger reserves, including human-animal conflict, wildlife rescue and translocation, forest fires, life-threatening health emergencies for forest staff and 24x7 anti-poaching readiness.

The Field Director will be the operational head of each RRU, which will be in the charge of an officer not below the rank of a Forest Ranger. It will equipped to accommodate six forest personnel with safety equipment. The purpose is to enable personnel of Rapid Response Team (RRTs) to reach trouble spots quickly in vehicles that are stocked with all the equipment they need to handle a variety of emergencies listed above.

The attempt will be to deliver RRUs to tiger reserves based on the following criteria:
  • Tiger reserves that have notified their buffer zones.
  • Tiger reserves which have constituted or are in the process of commissioning the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF).
  • Protected Areas with viable breeding tiger populations or with the potential to harbour viable breeding tiger populations, even if they do not presently enjoy Project Tiger status. Examples might include the Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand, the Nagzira-Navegaon tiger belt in Maharashtra and Sathyamangalam in Tamilnadu.
  • Tiger reserves that have used the RRU effectively in the first phase of the campaign and request additional RRUs for more complete protection of large tiger landscapes.
Each RRU will be tailored to the specific needs of the management, which in turn will rely on past experience and terrain.
Equipping Anti-poaching Camp (APC)
RRU Training
Supporting Wildlife Trust of India (WTI)
Supporting NGOs and individuals
Developing Mobile Veterinary Ambulance