Maharashtra has declared war on animal poaching by sanctioning its forest guards to shoot hunters on sight in an effort to curb rampant attacks against tigers, elephants and other wildlife.
The government in Maharashtra says injuring or killing suspected poachers while policing animal reserves will not be considered a crime.
Patangrao Kadam, the state's Forest Minister also announced that 523 new guards will be recruited soon and will be deployed at four forest reserves of the state -- Tadoba, Pench, Melghat and Sahyadri. About half of the worlds estimated 3,200 tigers are in dozens of Indian tiger reserves set up since the 1970s.
The state has also appointed a four-member committee of experts to advise the government on steps to be taken for precautions against poaching of tigers. Steps have also been taken to keep electricity supply in check as one of the reasons for deaths of tigers has been electrocution. The irrigation department has also been alerted to ensure maximum water holes.
As many as 100 new patrol vehicles for range officers have also been allotted. Teams of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) have been deployed in these forests.
A secret fund of Rs 50 lakh has also been sanctioned to give incentives to informers providing tips about smugglers and poachers to the forest officials.
The announcements come a week after an alert issued by the state Forest Department that poachers in Madhya Pradesh have been paid an advance of Rs 40 lakhs to kill 25 tigers in Maharashtra.