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Friday, September 23, 2011

Additional Cats Increase Tiger Numbers at Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve

Every time the camera caught a different beautiful pale yellow body painted with long black stripes, they added to the numbers statistically. New camera traps installed in the forest of Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh have recently captured on film a number of new adult males as well as many new tiger cubs tagging along with their mothers. Forest officials estimate that the Tiger Reserve has about 70 adults and 20 cubs living in the reserve. Of the photographs taken, 20% are of tiger cubs roaming along with their mothers. The Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve spread over 3658 sq kms is the largest Tiger Reserve in India located in the Nallamalai hill ranges and catchment areas of the Krishna River. Recently new camera traps with motion and infrared sensor were installed in the dense forest of the reserve. The new technology has revealed delightful news for the big cats and their lovers. “This is the first time the animals have been photographed, giving us an idea of each individual, number of animals, and in which areas the tigers are moving.” K Naik, the head of Project Tiger at Hyderabad and a former field director of the Nagarjuna Sagar reserve said. With the increase in the tiger population, forest officials have taken a number of steps to counteract any danger against them. To prevent the tigers and leopards from straying into human settlements in search of food, the forest department has released 70 deers in the forest, which will serve as prey to the big cats. The big cats often stray in human settlements due to territorial infighting with their clan or in search of food. However forest officials have taken care to prevent any human-animal conflict by paying immediate compensation in case of cattle killed by a tiger or leopard. As such they have successfully prevented cases of poaching and other criminal activities against the animal. The last poaching case in Nagarjunasagar Tiger Reserve was registered in October 2001. The reserve forest consists of 24 villages which are home to 1500 families, mostly Chenchu tribals. Bu they do not pose any danger for the Chenchu tribals are known to co-exist with the natural system, their needs being simple and primitive. Recently a female with two cubs was snapped close to a road open for traffic on the sanctuary’s periphery, and a male was seen near a village. However both incidents were cleverly manipulated back to harmony, before any untoward incident could arise, thus saving both human and animal lives. Cameras have also caught many tigers towards the Gundla Brameshwara Wildlife Sanctuary which has become an extension of the Tiger Reserve. Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve has been renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in 1992 and is a part of Project Tiger. Forest management programmes which have included the village tribals have helped to maintain the forest cover to a large extent. The villagers dependency on wood for fuel is now being fed with alternatives such biogas plants and solar lamps to a small extent. However the major source of danger to the bio diversity of the reserve are the armed extremist, which make it difficult for forest guards to venture in some areas as well as smugglers who smuggle large amounts of timber from the forest. The aforesaid dangers have been present since many years. However it is the persistence and optimistic vision of the reserve’s forest officials and guards that has succeeded in improving the tiger numbers, a fullsome positive result.

Tadoba moots white-topping of roads inside park Mazhar Ali, TNN

Chandrapur: Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) authorities have decided to go for green technology for strengthening the damaged pucca roads in the tiger abode. Park management has forwarded a proposal for white topping, a non-polluting technology, of the pucca roads inside the reserve, to avoid the tar abiding with the norms of NTCA. While TATR is all set for reopening of full fledged tourist services from next month. The park has been partially closed since July 15 and tourist movement was restricted to great extent. While only limited number of tourist vehicles was allowed to move only on the pucca roads, all the interior kuccha roads were closed for safari. The park will reopen fully for public on October 1. The degradation of tar road is a cause of concern. There is a 19-km stretch of tar road between Moharli and Tadoba range. In addition to this there are some small stretches which lead to kuccha roads. "There are over 20 km long tar roads inside the reserve. These roads need repair. But as per the guidelines of NTCA burning of tar inside the park for repair or construction work of pucca roads is prohibited. So, we have decided to go for green technology," said CCF and field director, TATR, Vinaykumar Sinha. Park management has opted for white-topping technology of the tar roads. "It is a concrete overlay, a novel technology which promises to fill all potholes. We have forwarded a proposal to the higher-ups for white-topping and have called experts for spot inspection," said Sinha. He informed that they have plans to rope in support of some big industries through corporate social responsibility (CSR) for the project. He said that there are plans to construct toilets and urinals through green technology inside the park. "There are some pockets in the park where there is least water available for utilization. At such places the toilets and urinals which do not need any water could come handy," Sinha opined.

Friday, September 16, 2011

157 contract staff of Palamu Tiger Circle on verge TNN

DALTONGANJ: As many as 157 contractual employees of the Palamu Tiger Circle (PTC) are going without salary for the last five months and are on the verge of starvation. These contractual employees do highly sensitive duties like wireless operation, tiger protection , fire protection, wild life tracking and are in a way the back bone of the PTC. President of Jharkhand State Van Shramik Union Siddhi Nath Jha, who works on contract in PTC said, "Going without salary for the last five months has rendered the whole lot of 157 personnel a broken force in a place which is dotted with challenges and difficult tasks." The employees have a number of demand including early payment of months salary, regularization of services in the cadre of third and fourth grade as per the qualification, Rs 10 lakh insurance cover for life, contract money per month should not be of 26 days excluding Sundays but of 31 days a month for all round the year as these contract employees work more than 8 hours a day every day and hike in contract money for skilled employees who handle sensitive work like wireless operation, tiger protection, tiger tracking, anti-fire management and computer operation. Conservator-cum-field director of PTC S E H Kazmi confirming the non-payment of contract money for the last five months to 157 contractual employees said, "No one can say their demands are not just. They have worked and have a right to salary as per contract." However, Kazmi lamented that the PTC has no wherewithal. "We take interest free loans from the Jharkhand State Forest Development Corporation (JSFDC) and then pay the contract money to these people. This time we could get a loan of only Rs 5 lakh. It is hardly for a month. When offered to these people going without wages for five months, which they declined saying it would further sink them in miseries as they will not be in a position to clear all their debts to grocers, tea vendor and others." Jha reiterated that wages pending over the last five months must be paid to them in one installment.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unified control of core, buffer for TATR FD Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN

NAGPUR: In a move that could go a long way in ensure buffer area management gives priority to tiger conservation, the state government is finally considering giving unified control of the core and buffer areas to the field director of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). The issue will come up for discussion with forest minister Patangrao Kadam during his visit to Nagpur on September 16. Some MLAs from Chandrapur district, who are opposing the move, allegedly to favour timber and mining lobby, have also been invited to the meeting to clear confusion. Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary (forests), confirmed the development. "Unified control of core and buffer areas with the field director of tiger reserve has been recommended by NTCA and practised in other tiger reserves. The same approach seems suitable for orienting buffer area management. Rights of people in buffer will not be harmed," Pardeshi said. A committee appointed by PCCF (wildlife) in October 2010 headed by additional PCCF AK Saxena, APCCF Shree Bhagwan, CCF VK Sinha, CF GRK Rao and Satpuda Foundation chief Kishor Rithe had also recommended reorganization of Chandrapur division in the buffer area and give unified control to TATR field director. "This is a usual reorganization for forest and wildlife management purpose. Britishers have gone from the country in 1947. We've shifted from timber extraction era to conservation field. Indian Wildlife And Forest Acts have been changed and given complete focus on conservation especially from 2002," Rithe said. Rithe further said where tiger reserves have been created, their buffer and core areas have been given to wildlife department to manage. "The Centre is planning to have a separate wildlife department to manage protected areas (PAs) properly," he added. "Now, Maharashtra cannot lag behind. A few politicians who are against this idea will have to think about future of Chandrapur district," Rithe, member of National Board for Wild Life (NBWL), added. Currently, three administrative units viz. Chandrapur, Brahmapuri and West Chanda FDCM divisions have overlapping administrative jurisdiction. Large areas of Chandrapur division fall in the buffer area and only a few compartments of Brahmapuri and West Chanda fall in the buffer. It has been recommended that these compartments may be attached with Chandrapur division and entire buffer of Chandrapur may be constituted into a buffer division attached to the tiger reserve.

India's famous four tiger trails IPSHITA MITRA

"And when my eyes saw the big cat approaching stealthily from the dense bushes, the moment was ecstatic...amidst the dark of the night and twittering crickets, seated on the safari jeep, when our torch lights cast flashes on the striped skin of the royal animal and the tiger emerged in all its radiance...the sight was majestic..." These are the emotions evoked on sighting the majestic big cat in its natural surroundings on a wildlife safari. Delhi-based adventure enthusiast and media professional, Dilasha Seth says "After all it is not everyday that you see a tiger prowling in your backyard...To watch a tiger on National Geographic and to feel its presence at a sniffing distance are two very different things. Hence that gasping moment of awe comes as a reflex response to the palpable experience." Tiger spotting is nothing short of an adventure sport that calls for preparation, patience and positive outlook. Let us explore some of the popular national parks and wildlife destinations that can guarantee you a rendezvous with the Great Indian Tiger. Bandhavgarh National Park : Located in Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India, the erstwhile hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Rewa, the dense Bandhavgarh is known to the world as the home of the big cats. With over 600 species of flowering plants, 50 species of aquatic and 18 species of rare plants, the real thrill of Bandhavgarh is in seeing the tigers roam the jungles freely. Where to stay in Bandhavgarh: Luxurious safari cottages and tree houses make for a welcoming stay at the Syna Tiger Resort. With a blend of earthy folk artistry amid the dense wilderness, the resort serves as a sanctuary to safari-weary travellers. With experienced nature guides to show you around the forest over safari drives and elephant rides, the journey into the wild will surely be a magical one. History has it that the species of white tigers, known as the 'elusive' White Tigers, where first sighted in Bandhavgarh. So if luck comes your way, spotting a white tiger while you are seated on an elephant back can make your day. Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand: A paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, Jim Corbett National Park (that turned 75 this year) is known to house a population of 200 plus tigers along a massive topographical area interspersed with hilly ridges and rolling grasslands. Where to stay in Jim Corbett: Dhikala Forest Lodge - Located at the heart of Corbett, Dhikala is the most preferred stopover for camping and night stay. Conducted tours by nature guides and private jeep safaris are comfortably available at Dhikala at reasonable package prices. Since the fabled grassland of Dhikala is situated at the intermediate zone from Delhi to Corbett, you almost wake up to a morning of deer calls and tiger roars. Time to visit : The best time to visit Corbett is from October mid till late June when the forest zones remain open for visitors. Permits of wildlife safari should be obtained 30 days prior to the date of safari. The tour extends for about 4 hours beginning as early as six in the morning. Sunderban National Park, West Bengal: To drop Sunderbans out from the discussion on tiger trails in India would be sacrilege for this is the kingdom of the Royal Bengal Tiger (one of the ferocious breeds of the carnivore). The charm of Sunderban lies in navigating through the remote reaches of the dense mangrove forest that characterises the world's largest Delta. What sets this vast tract of impenetrable forest situated along the Bay of Bengal apart is the mode of transport used to reach the habitat of the tiger. Sunderban Tiger Camp : Amidst a sprawling 15 bighas of forestland, the 2 hour motorboat ride from the camp calls for a culture-rich journey with local villagers performing to traditional songs and dances. Recalls, Srishty Chaudhary, an avid traveller, "The boat ride is the highpoint of Sunderbans. It prepared you for your meeting with the Bengal Tiger." Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan : Surrounded by the Avaralli and Vindhyachal ranges, the landscape of Ranthambore serves as one of the oft-frequented zones of tigers in India. The size of the park and its environment are two primary elements that determine the population and subsequent chances of spotting tigers. The territorial expanse, deciduous forests, rocky plains, lakes and rivers of Ranthambore confirm a suitable ecological climate for tigers to thrive in. Add to this the comforts of Mughal-inspired tents located on the outskirts of the park for a comfortable overnight stay. Khem Villas, Jungle camp : Equipped with standalone cottages, tents on wooden platform and rooms, a stay at Khem Villas will add a rustic charm to your safari experience. Night-time campfires, jungle and nature walks are some of the pastimes that you can indulge in. Aman-i-Khas is another exotic resort that provides unhindered access to the wildlife of Ranthambore Park while giving you an opportunity to discover the historical forts and rural villages that create this picturesque sanctuary. When to go : Safaris run throughout the day for a span of 2 hours beginning 7 in the morning and again from 2pm in the afternoon. The period from March to June is the best for tiger spotting for this is the time when the animal comes out in search of water. Monsoon should be avoided as the undergrowth is dense denying visibility.

Monday, September 12, 2011

With 200 tigers, Corbett turns a proud 75 IANS

One of the nurseries of India's tiger conservation movement and Asia's first endeavour to have a national park, the Corbett National Park turns 75 this year, marking a string of successes despite a few incidents of man-animal conflict. Some 200-plus tigers, or almost one in every eight of the big cats surviving in India, live in Corbett landscape, which is almost 2,000 square kilometres of grasslands and Sal forest covering the reserve and adjoining jungles in Uttarakhand's Shivalik foothills. The tigers are not the only attractions; the resort hosts a wide gamut of animals, including leopards, elephants, sloth bears and various deer species including spotted deer, sambar, nilgai, hog deer, and barking deer. The reptiles include the Indian marsh crocodile, gharials (alligators), the king cobra, common krait, cobra, Russels viper, python and monitor lizards, while more than 600 species and subspecies of birds are found. Founded in 1936, the preserve was named after famous hunter and conservationist Jim Corbett, who was also one of its founding members. To mark its platinum anniversary, the management has planned a range of activities which will continue till December. A series of activities have already been held, while many more are on the anvil. "We are planning to release reports on conservation, and an archival film on Corbett tigers is also being made," park warden U.C. Tiwari said in an interview. "Our Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal has also announced plans to invite Indian cricket captain (and the park's honorary warden) M.S. Dhoni in November," said Tiwari, adding special safaris for school students is also being organised. Considered one of the best-managed parks in India, the park has withstood many challenges: from the onslaught of poaching to changes in the ecosystem and now man-animal conflict. The Corbett Park was brought under Project Tiger when this flagship programme to save the big cats was launched by India in 1973. The Corbett Tiger Reserve today spreads over 1,280 sq km, also covering the 520 sq km Corbett Park. However, with the expansion of the reserve over time, giving wild animals more roaming space has led to an increase in man-animal conflict in recent years since it brought them closer to human settlements. Last year at least six people were mauled to death by tigers in the Sunderkhal area, adjoining the reserve, which is an important corridor that helps wild animals to move between the reserve and the adjoining forests. Over 400 families live in this corridor. The government has been mulling to shift them to safer places but nothing concrete has been decided yet. In addition, developmental activities too have taken a toll and threatened to damage the park's sensitive ecosystem. "There has been a spurt of tourism activities, which is a big challenge. We need to have some regulatory measures to tackle it," says C.K. Kavidayal, deputy director of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. "Besides this, there is always a threat of poaching with the increasing number of tigers. We track all these factors, and the credit goes to our staff," he said. "People who venture into the forest for fodder and fuel wood become vulnerable to predator attacks, now more so when the tiger numbers have increased. But incidents like last year's have never happened around Corbett before," Kavidayal said. "There are two major corridors connecting the reserve with the adjoining forests. Our task is to recover them so that wild animals could move between these forests," Tiwari said. One of the corridors connects the reserve with the Ramnagar forest division and the other connects the Rajaji National Park, also in Uttarakhand, through the Lansdowne forest division. These corridors are vital for the survival of wild animals that roam these forests in search of food. According to the latest tiger census report released by the government in March, Indian tigers in the wild are around 1,500. A similar report in 2008 showed India had about 1,400 tigers.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Two trapping cameras stolen from Palamu Tiger Reserve

TNN | Sep 9, 2011, 11.09PM IST DALTONGANJ: Unidentified people have stolen two trapping cameras from the Garu range of the Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR). The theft took place between August 25 and September 2, said a PTR source. This cameras have a range of 100 metres. The cameras were stolen from Jaigeer and Ramandaag both fall under the Garu range of the PTC and PTR. Garu police station has been informed. Two dozen trapping cameras are installed in the PTR on the basis of presence and movement of wildlife animals to record their movement. The cameras are generally installed in areas frequented by animals. The installation of trapping cameras in Garu range is more than any other place as the area is considered to be a haven for wildlife animals. S E H Kazmi, the conservator-cum-field director of the Palamu Tiger Circle (PTC) PTR comes under PTC has confirmed the theft of the two cameras. "This cameras have no commercial value at all. It is not a studio equipment and cannot take family pictures," he said. Asked as to what could be the reason for the theft when the cameras have no resale value, Kazmi said, "When a person comes close to this camera, it flashes. It sometimes irritates the visitor as one fears his presence is being recorded. So he just takes it away." Sources said elephants had so far not broken or smashed any such trapping cameras as the elephants had in the past pulled down "mile stones" with great interests.Kazmi narrated one instance in which a big cat got irritated when this camera flashed on it.

Sunderbans left out of WWF 'tiger tour' Jayanta Gupta

KOLKATA: The WWF will organize two Wild India tours - one in December this year and the other in March next year - with the catchphrase "The search for a big cat on the brink". But surprisingly, one of Bengal tigers' unique habitats - the Sunderbans - does not feature in the itinerary. Evidently, tourists would miss out on the opportunity to explore the world's largest mangrove delta or look for the striped cat within the clumps of hetal. Instead, the tourists will spend a day in Kolkata, getting a feel of the city's literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage and its 'creative energy', before flying to Assam for a four-day trip to Kaziranga. According to sources, the idea is not to bring large groups and take them around the country. There will be about 14 people in each group. "The WWF is only interested in those who are keen to visit the tigers' habitat. The organization is dedicated to bring the wild tiger back from the brink of extinction and doubling its numbers. Tourists will see for themselves how protection of the big cat leads to care for forests and grasslands that shelter other animals, sequester carbon, filter water and provide food to humans," an official said. According to him, the Sunderbans has been left out as a day-trip to the mangrove forests is out of question. "Even if we were to arrange a two-day trip to the Sunderbans, there is no guaranteeing that a tiger can be spotted. Logistics is also a problem. Given the high-end tourists who would be part of these tours, making proper arrangements for them may also be a problem," he said. After all, the tourists are paying over Rs 4,00,000 per head for the two-week trip. This excludes air-fare to and from Delhi. The tour will start from Delhi. The next four days will be spent at Kanha. From there, they will be flown to Kolkata where they will spend a day before flying to Jorhat for the onward trip to Kaziranga. The tour will involve tiger searching expeditions under the leadership of experienced guides. Apart from tigers, tourists hope to see one-horned rhinoceros, Sambar deer, wild buffalo, elephants and monitor lizards. The WWF has promised that accommodation will be arranged at remote lodges that are in harmony with the surroundings. "Kanha has been selected as it offers India's best tiger viewing. Other animals that may be spotted are chital, sambar, common langur, wild boar, Indian bison, sloth bear, Asiatic jackal, wild dog, rhesus monkeys and leopards. This park also has the largest population of Barasingha, the endangered swamp deer with beautiful antlers. The tourists will be put up at the Singinawa Jungle Lodge in Kanha," a person associated with the tour said. At Kaziranga, they will be accommodated at the Diphlu River Lodge. The tourists will take jeep rides and attempt to spot wild buffalo, hog deer, Hoolock gibbon, elephants, pythons and tigers. There wouldn't be any problem in sighting the one-horned rhinoceros that abounds. The tourists would also be on the lookout for gharial and dolphins in Brahmaputra.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Orissa Similipal staff plan a foolproof count

BARIPADA: Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR), India’s second largest tiger reserve, is preparing for the national tiger count in November. This national park is in the news for its dwindling number of tigers and frequent elephant deaths. �Sources said the tiger reserve officials are planning to use both camera trap and pugmark methods to count the big cats. On earlier occasions, only pugmark method was used and it varied largely from the camera trap counting. Using pugmark method, the authorities had counted 101 tigers in STR in 2004. In 2009, the number came down to 61, including 16 males, 31 females and 14 cubs. But the report of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institution of India (WII) indicated that STR has an estimated 23 (12-34) tigers as per 2010 census, which was conducted by camera trapping methods. �Regional Conservator of Forests (RCF) Anup Nayak said NTCA this time was planning to count the big cats through both the methods. “It will be finalised after a meeting followed by a training of officials for the counting,” he said. �Sources said NTCA will prepare a protocol to be followed by all tiger reserves and it may rope in some NGOs besides the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). This time, the officials want a fool-proof count which shouldn’t be confusing like previous years. �Field trials have already begun __ the staff are getting good pictures from cameras put up at nine places. “We had fixed six cameras at Upper Barhakamuda, two at Jenabil and one at National Park. All have several pictures of tigers,” said a forest official. He said the WII last time also had used 10� cameras on a trial basis. �Besides tigers, the STR is home to about 432 wild elephants. The national park, with a total area of 2,750 sq km, is a treasure house of 1,076 species of plants belonging to 102 families.

Tigers stage comeback in Jalgaon after a long gap Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN

NAGPUR: It should sound a good news for wildlife lovers. Tigers have staged a comeback in Jalgaon district in Dhule territorial circle after a long gap. However, Khandesh Nature Conservation Society (KNCS), working for tiger conservation in Jalgaon forest division, claims tigers were very much there but there was no serious monitoring by the department. Wadoda range forest officer (RFO) DR Patil has been monitoring a tigress with a cub for the past three months. Patil also claims presence of a male tiger in his range. The tigers have made densely forested Purna backwaters their home. "This is after 2001 that tigers have staged a comeback in Jalgaon division. In 2001, there was tigress with three cubs," Patil said. It seems tigers move from Melghat-Ambabarwa-Yawal-Western Ghats. However, Abhay Ujagare and Vinod Patil of KNCS say presence of tigers is there in Jalgaon district since 1993 but due to lack of serious monitoring their existence could not be ascertained. However, if official tiger figures are to be considered, there were 7 tigers in Yawal Wildlife Sanctuary in Jalgaon, followed by 3 in 1993, 4 in 1997 and 1 in 2001. Since then no tigers were recorded in the protected area (PA). Besides, the last official record of tigers in Jalgaon division was in 2005 when three tigers were recorded. "In past few years the newly added Wan and Ambabarwa to Melghat tiger reserve has improved protection and management. Several evidences of breeding tigresses have been recorded in camera traps from this cluster," said Kishor Rithe, member of National Board for Wild Life (NBWL). Rithe said there were unconfirmed tiger sighting reports in the past two years by villagers and local nature lovers in Jalgaon district. Presence of tigers shows that they are dispersing towards west in Jalgaon district. The forest range Kurha (Wadoda) includes Kurha, Charthana and Dolarkheda rounds. The area of three beats North Dolarkheda (2,100 ha), South Dolarkheda (1,500 ha) and Sukali (1,450 ha) of Dolarkheda round in Kurha range is the most potential area for tigers having 10 perennial waterholes. Rithe's Satpuda Foundation has urged the state government to provide necessary wildlife management inputs to this area. If you peep into history, tigers and lions used to live together in Gujarat. Tigers disappeared from Gujarat in the 1980s whereas lions could manage to survive. The last tiger seen in Gujarat is reported from Dang district bordering Maharashtra. Satpuda mountain is spread up to Dang district where it meets Western Ghats and Aravali mountain. The tiger habitat continuity link is considered from Kanha-Pench (Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh)-Satpuda-Melghat and Yawal. Local bird watcher Anil Mahajan from Varangaon (Jalgaon) had recorded a dead cub last year. This is a proof that tigers are breeding in Jalgaon district and earlier claims made by KNCS were also true. Conservationists were dreaming in last 20 years that tigers would again disperse towards west to Melghat. The state expert committee to declare critical tiger habitats (CTH) ex-PCCF B Majumdar, ex-APCCF Nandkishore and Kishor Rithe had recommended a compact cluster of Wan, Ambabarwa and Narnala sanctuaries adjoining Melghat to be included in MTR, which was accepted by the state and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tiger tourism focus shifts to Ramnagar, Terai West

The State Government is planning to encourage tourism in the buffer zones of Corbett National Park so as to lessen the negative effect of tourism in the core zone of the park with the start of the tourist season on November 15.

The authorities hope that in addition to improving the environment and reducing wildlife crime in the core zone, encouraging tourism in Ramnagar and Terai West forest divisions will also help in the socio-economical development of the local residents.

Speaking to The Pioneer, the State Forest and Environment Advisory Committee vice-chairman, Anil Baluni, said that more than two lakh visited Corbett National Park during the tourist season that ended in June this year. Though the tourism activity has some positive effect on the national park, it is also exploited by poachers who increase their activities in the core zone during the tourist season.

In order to decrease the pressure of tourists in the core area and to prevent wildlife crimes, the department will encourage tourism in the buffer zones from November 15 when it reopens for tourists. The wildlife including tigers, elephants, other creatures and the environment which attracts tourists to the national park can also be enjoyed in the Ramnagar and Terai west forest divisions.

Both guides and tourists will be encouraged to view the attractions in these forest divisions as this region will remain open for tourists throughout the year unlike Corbett which is open to tourists from November 15 to June 15. Baluni stressed that the State wants at least one person from each family living in Ramnagar to benefit directly from tourism activity as their development will correspond to the welfare of wildlife and environment in the national park and its buffer zone.

The tiger population in the Corbett Tiger Reserve landscape is estimated to be more than 200 with at least 30 tigers believed to be present in Ramnagar forest division. This area is also important as, according to the latest tiger survey conducted by the Wildlife

Institute of India, it is one of the few places in India where the tiger population has increased outside protected areas. Ramnagar was declared a tourism city by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' earlier this month.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Brahmapuri, TATR officials' 'no' to mining in Bander Vijay Pinjarkar -TNN

NAGPUR: The Brahmapuri forest division and Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) officials have said 'no' to proposed mining in Bander coal blocks near TATR in Chimur tehsil in Chandrapur district.

A proposal for open cast and underground mining by Bander Coal Company Private Limited (BCCPL), Mumbai, a joint venture of Amar Iron & Steel, Yavatmal; Century Textiles Industries, Mumbai; and JK Cements Limited, Kanpur, was pending since May 2010 to seek comments of deputy conservator of forests (DyCF), Brahmapuri, and TATR field director prior to getting environment clearance. The company had issued several reminders to seek comments of forest officials.

In their comments forwarded to the senior officials, DyCF Brahmapuri and TATR field director have opined that coal mining should not be allowed in Bander, whether it underground or opencast.

It is reliably learnt that both the officials concerned have clearly said 'no' to mines in Bander. "It is the only corridor left on the northern side connecting TATR and Melghat landscape through Nagpur, Wardha and Bor wildlife sanctuary. The existing coal mines in Murpaar have already damaged the tiger corridor. More mining would completely destroy the entire corridor," the officials said.

They have further said that proposed mining area is a good tiger habitat and in the past 3-4 human deaths have been reported due to man-animal conflict. The forest is such a rich habitat that it cannot be restored once damaged. Now the senior wildlife wing officials in city have to take a call. A three-member National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) committee comprising Kishor Rithe, Urmila Pingle and GN Vankhede in its report last year had also opposed to the proposed mining.

BCCPL was allotted coal blocks in Bander on May 29, 2009 to extract 175.110 million tonnes of coal. Although the proposed mining area falls in Brahmapuri division, the coal blocks are between 7.5km and 9km from the TATR boundary. Over 1,170 hectare of forest land will have to be diverted if mining is allowed.

Bandu Dhotre, president of Chandrapur-based NGO Eco-Pro, had also raised the issue with union environment minister Jairam Ramesh on July 19, 2010 requesting him to save the only corridor connecting TATR-Melghat.

"Khadsangi reserve forest and adjoining forest area, located towards the northern side is the narrowest bottleneck among all. Already degraded due to human habitation and agricultural activity, it will be disastrous to allow mining in Bander," Dhotre said.

He said that the buffer area of TATR is demarcated only up to 7.5km from the TATR core boundary. Therefore, apparently mining area seems to fall outside buffer area (touching the buffer boundary).

In 1999, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had rejected proposal for the same blocks citing its adverse impact on wildlife around Tadoba. Now, after 10 years, the corridor is already degraded and shrunk. It will be highly irrational to re-llot, the once rejected block for coal mining when wildlife problem remains the same, experts felt.

Sources said that TATR management plan had identified this area as a threatened degraded corridor and proposed its restoration. Under such circumstances it will be unwise and disastrous to degrade it further by allocating it for coal mining.