Dehradun: In order to tighten the noose around wildlife smugglers, the Forest Department has decided to form Special Operation Group (SGO) on the line of Police department.

In a first of its kind initiative in wildlife conservation, Uttarakhand is the first state to appoint SGO, which will control the expanding network of wildlife poachers.

The forest department very often seizes skins and other body parts of animals but fails to bust the smuggling racket. Considering this, the department plans to bring SGOs into exercise.

During a press conference, President of State Forest and Environment Advisor Monitoring Council, Anil Baloni informed, “In wake of frequent recovery of skins and body parts of animals and lack of evidence to file case against poachers, SGO is being formed to take charge of wildlife conservation.”

“ACF level officer will command the team. SGO will maintain coordination with state police and intelligence. Steps will be taken to provide the surveillance responsibility equivalent to Police,” added Baloni.

Initially, the SGO will comprise of nine members who will get training from the Central and the state Intelligence agencies.

Presently, Uttarakhand is on the hit list of the wildlife poachers. The alarming situation can be gauged from the fact that till now 54 skins along with the other body parts of animals have been recovered in 2011 alone.

The international mafias, especially those operating from Nepal, are keeping a hawk eye on the existing endangered species in the state.

It is due to this reason that the bordering areas of Nepal like Banbasa, Khatima, Dhaarchula are considered sensitive for illegal activity of wildlife smuggling.