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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brave act: 70-year-old fights off tiger to rescue cow -

Bhopal: In a daring act, a 70-year-old shepherd Mangilal of Bhindora village fought off a tiger attack just to rescue a cow. Armed with only a bamboo stick, the septuagenarian not only chased away the tiger but also guarded the cows all night long before handing them to their owner. Notably, the beast has already hunted down 27 cattle in last one month. Narrating on how he encountered the tiger in jungles, Mangilal said, “Like always, I had taken my cattle for grazing near the hill top on Sunday. It was 5 in the evening when I halted with the cattle herd near a mine. I rested near the bushes while the cows drank water. The next moment I saw a tiger that crept into the herd and attacked them.” Mangilal took no time to hit the tiger back with his stick. “As soon as the stick hit the tiger, it left the cow. Thinking that it would attack me, I grabbed the axe kept next to me. However, he vanished into the jungle.” In shock after his encounter with the beast for the first time, Mangilal said, “I have been rearing cattle since the age of 8 years, but I came across such an experience for the first time. The attack had led to the shattering of the cattle. It was an ordeal to gather them back, for which I had to spend the whole night in jungle.” Not only did Mangilal rescue the cow, the 70-year-old sat next to the injured animal fearing another attack by the tiger. “I thought, the tiger would come back again in search for its prey, but it did not. I handed the injured cow to its owner in the morning,” he said. The injured cow belongs to Sarpanch of Mindora village, Suresh Singh Tomar. The Sarpanch said that the tiger has so far targeted seven cows of their village. Concerned over their cattle, Tomar has registered a complaint in Ratibad police station against forest department.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stone-crushing units destroying tiger habitat

Uttam Mukherjee, TNN Oct 15, 2011, 09.31AM IST LOHARDAGA: Once a tiger habitant and a beautiful green hillock with a natural source of sweet water, Bagh Tungri in Jhaljhamira panchayat has now been destroyed as stone-crushing units have come up in the area. The district administration had allowed stone-crushing units of six big and small private companies to come up here. Heavy machines destroyed 50% of Tungri which could have been developed into a tourist hot spot. The department officials said Tungri was given on lease to five companies and hence there was no need for sanctioning lease to a sixth party. On the other hand, there were no public complaints. Villagers of Jhaljhamira and Datri had stopped transportation of stones from Tungri. Recently, deputy commissioner Ratan Kumar reviewed the complaints of villagers through a probe committee and ordered Simplex, the major lessee, to stop work. Now villagers have demanded a complete ban of stone-crushing units in Bagh Tungri. Social activist Manorma Ekka said, "We lost the natural beauty of the hillock as well as its historical and religious value and most importantly its waterfall to mining." "Roads become completely muddy due to plying of heavy vehicles," said a resident, Pankaj Oraon. Since Tungri was not fenced, blasts created several other problems. It damaged fruit-bearing trees and plants grown near it under the National Gardening Mission on over 15 acres of land. As many as 30 heavy vehicles used to ply and several heavy machines drilled and blasted stones every day. Because of irregularities, including lack of demarcation of its lease area, the company was ordered to stop work before Durga Puja, said the DC. He added that the district transport officer had been ordered to lodge an FIR against vehicles carrying over 10 tonnes of load on rural roads. A public notice was also published in newspapers about the action taken for violating norms under damage to public property act.

Yearly tiger census in Sunderbans on the cards

Krishnendu Mukherjee Oct 14, 2011, 02.41AM IST KOLKATA: Population dynamics of Sunderbans tigers may get to see a new light, with the Centre deciding to add another phase of study for a reliable and detailed assessment of number of big cats in the mangroves. Sunderbans Tiger Reserve field director Subrat Mukherji, who attended a meeting with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) officials in New Delhi on Thursday, said more sample sites would be included in the new phase. "Last time camera traps had been laid only across 100 sq km area near Netidhopani. In the new upgraded format, which will be an upgradation of phase III in last census, we have suggested three sample sites covering upper, middle and lower areas of Sunderbans."

Saranda springs tiger surprise

SATURDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2011 23:40 SAYANTANEE CHOUDHURY | RANCHI If the inhabitants of the Asia’s biggest Sal forest, Saranda, and initial evidence are to be believed, then its good news in the offing for wildlife lovers. Contrary to the general perception that big cats never existed in Saranda, there are hints for the first time of a tigress and a couple of cubs living there. A team of wildlife experts has been rushed to the spot to examine tiger pugmarks found recently in the dense forest cover of Jharkhand. The team will also collect excreta and shed fur samples. According to Saranda divisional forest officer KK Tiwari, locals spotted few unfamiliar pugmarks and informed the forest officials. “People even claimed to have seen one tigress and two cubs in the forest,” he added. However, the sighting is yet to be verified. Jharkhand wildlife warden AK Gupta said, “A team of six members — including local wildlife officers and members from Ranchi — have been sent to Saranda to collect samples.” He added that a large numbers of leopards and hyena inhabited Saranda earlier and that the forests often give conflicting signals on the presence of big cats. Saranda is considered an unspoilt world, where nature rules supreme. It is the home of the endangered flying lizard. It is famous for its Sal forests and majestic elephants. However, news of tigers in the area then would definitely be good. “The samples will be sent for forensic examination and results will be available within 10 days. Since there were no evidences of existence big of cats earlier, so we want to get a confirmed report from the forensic laboratory,” Gupta said. The Singhbhum Elephant Reserve is the only elephant reserve which exists in this forest, with traditional routes taken by the pachyderms. “We are also trying to trace the routes of the tigers, if they are in the forest. No big cats have shown their existence even in neighbhouring Dalma forests either. It is possible that the tiger family has migrated from Odisha or Andhra Pradesh,” said the wildlife warden. Gupta added, “Of late, tigers are probably trying out new routes. Few of them might have been isolated towards the Saranda forest and are trying to re-establish themselves here.”

Fisherman killed by tiger in Sunderbans ANANYA DUTTA

A fisherman was killed by a tiger deep inside the forests of the Sunderban Biosphere Reserve on Sunday. Satyabrata Jana of Kultuli had gone fishing with four others in the Gazikhali forest area within the Sajnekhali wildlife sanctuary. They had spread their nets in the waters and were sitting on the land when a tiger attacked the group, Subrat Mukherjee, field director of Sunderban Tiger Reserve, told The Hindu over telephone. “We have received reports of one person being killed by a tiger. They had gone fishing in the restricted area of the forest and did not have a permit for fishing,” Mr. Mukherjee said. Since Mr. Jana was killed in the restricted areas of the forest, his family will not be eligible for the compensation that is given to victims of tiger attacks. Illegal fishing in the restricted areas of the forest is a perennial problem that plagues the region and results in several incidents of man-animal conflict. “The fishermen try their best to dodge the guards of the Forest Department and enter the restricted areas. Since they are flouting the rules they are not entitled to any compensation if any such incidents occur,” said Sarba Mondal, a resident of the Sunderban islands.

Forest dept may lose services of tiger vets Lemuel Lall

BHOPAL: After losing its Tiger State tag to Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh is on the verge of losing the services of expert vets who look after animals in five national parks. Unhappy with the lack of allowances and a cadre, the veterinarians, who are on deputation with the forest department for more than 10 years, want to return to their parent state animal husbandry department. "Even after risking our lives while treating carnivorous animals and working round-the-clock, we get no extra allowances. Even a non-practice allowance is not paid to us," one of the five vets told TOI. "Our counterparts in Animal Husbandry Department work for six to eight hours only and their job does not involve much risk, still they manage to earn a decent salary," he added. "We did a PG diploma in wildlife management from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, before joining as vets. Some of us have even done a PG diploma in wildlife health management from WII, besides specialised courses from South Africa and UK. But in the absence of a cadre, we are still awaiting promotions. We had come on deputation to the forest department in 2000. Our consent was not sought though it is mandatory. We can seek the court's help to return to our parent department, but that will be our last option," he said. The recommendations of the committee formed in 2006 to formulate wildlife health policy are yet to be implemented. Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) H S Pabla said his department does not want to lose the vets on deputation, as they have a rich experience. "I have forwarded a proposal regarding their demands to the state government. We want to have a permanent veterinarian cadre," he added.

Friday, October 14, 2011

17 highways threaten tiger habitats

October 14, 2011 By Rashme Sehgal Correspondent New Delhi The tiger population is facing a growing threat from heavy traffic with the ministry of surface transport demanding environmental clearances for 17 highways across tiger reserves from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF). The Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand is facing a massive problem as over 50,000 vehicles ply through the highway (NH-58 and NH-72) on a daily basis thereby preventing animals from moving from one part of the reserve to another. The MoEF is keen to repopulate this park with tigers but this can only be done if these highways are relocated. Rajaji National Park project director S.S. Rasailly believes that the bifurcation of the park to allow traffic to ply through it has prevented animals from going to the nearby rivers to drink water. Tiger experts believe that one of the main reasons why Sariska tiger reserve became unviable for tigers was because of the construction of the Jaipur-Alwar highway which cuts through it. “Despite the government having constructed a bypass road, truck drivers continue to ply through the Sariska reserve,’ said Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden R.N. Mehrotra. The story has been repeated in Ranthambore with the road connecting Sawai Madhopur to Madhya Pradesh cutting through the Ranthambore tiger sanctuary, he added. The corridors between Kanha-Nagzira-Pench, Navegaon-Nagzira, Tadoba-Melgat are under threat from road widening, encro-achments, mining, power and other developmental projects. “The tiger has to be protected but also the forests. If the forests go, so will the tiger, points out Dr Rajesh Gopal , member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority. The MoEF’s rejection of the NHAI proposal to build a four-lane road between Nagpur and Raipur was based on the recommendation of members of the NHAI who pointed out that the Nagzira Wildlife Sanct-uary and the Navegaon National Park were located on both sides of this contentious patch.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mangrove variety may be behind falling tiger count Prithvijit Mitra

KOLKATA: Tigers in the Sunderbans face a new threat, this time from within. An alteration in the composition of the mangrove forest has made it difficult for tigers to hunt and could be a reason behind their dwindling number, says an ongoing study by the School of Oceanagraphic Studies, Jadavpur University. A sudden proliferation of Baine (avicennia) a" a mangrove variety which is a rich source of food and fodder but has a very high pneumatophore density a" has taken researchers by surprise. Further rise in its number could be disastrous for the big cats in Sunderbans, the study says. Baine has two sub-species a" avicennia marina and avicennia alba. Till the late Eighties, Baine comprised less than 1% of all mangroves in the forest. It now accounts for around 10% which is alarming, said the experts. Its pneumatophores can spread across a radius of up to 20 feet and make movement extremely difficult for tigers. In the slippery and dense terrain where hunting has never been easy for tigers, Baine has been making it even tougher. asBaine has the highest pneumatophore density among mangroves. As it is, tigers get little room to run and catch a pray in the Sunderbans. They have to rely on short bursts to make a kill, catching their pray by surprise. More Baine means even that has now become difficult in certain areas,a? said Pranabesh Sanyal, a member of the research team. Sunderbans has 94 species of mangroves. Goran (ceriops) and Gewa (excoeceria egallocha) comprise nearly 70% of the mangroves. Baineas proliferation can be directly linked to a rise in salinity, said the study. "Among all the mangrove varieties, it can withstand salinity the most. Our study also shows a sharp rise in salinity a" both in rivers and in ground water. The more the salinity, the more conducive it will be for Baine," added Sanyal. There was, however, a flipside to it. Being rich in food value and a good fodder, the mangrove variety could actually be a boon for the residents of Sunderbans. Used as cattle fodder, Baine leaves and twigs were better than straw, the study said. Its leaves are widely used as vegetables in Gujarat and Sunderbans could follow suit. "A toxicity test is now being done to assess its suitability for human consumption. If it passes the test, this mangrove could be a cheap and easy source of food for locals. The latter could also save money by using it as fodder," said Sanyal. Baine could be planted in the creeks along villages, it has been suggested. Since these areas donat have a tiger population, it wonat affect them. But since it has been growing deep inside the forests, it has been largely inaccessible to the local population. "No solution is in sight, for you canat chop them off. That would be detrimental to the eco-system. We must wait for some more time and observe the consequences," Sanyal said. Some experts, however, felt it was still too early to conclude that Baine has been affecting tigers."First, there has been no study to assess the impact of Baine on tigers. Secondly, tigers are remarkably adaptable creatures who can adjust to adverse conditions. The fact that they have survived in the Sunderbans is ample proof of that. But if Baine has indeed been proliferating then we need a proper study. It should be taken seriously," said Shilanjan Bhattacharya, member of the State Wildlife Advisory Board.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Maoist jungle turns Tiger trail DC Bengalur

October 11, 2011 By Bala Chauhan and other correspondents Was the bullet which felled constable Mahadev S. Mane fired by a sharpshooter trained by the cadre of the banned outfit, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam? For the second time in a week, authorities have raised the spectre of links between Naxalites and the LTTE. A letter demanding a ransom of Rs 10 lakhs from excise minister M.P. Renukacharya was suspected to be mailed by sympathisers of LTTE last week. Official sources told Deccan Chronicle, that Mahadev Mane of the Anti-Naxal force was killed by a sharpshooter from a distance of 70 feet at Manjilakadu during a combing operation launched on a tip-off by the intelligence wing that a group of 10-15 Naxalites was camping in the area. Evidently, the sharpshooter was trained by LTTE men as the presence of Maoists in the Western Ghats had dwindled following a sustained operation by ANF, sources added. “We strongly believe that the strength of Naxalites has reduced to around ten. Even these 10 might not be trained sharpshooters. We suspect that one or two LTTE men might have come down to train the new group or someone from here, who underwent training at a LTTE camp might have been involved in shooting Mane” the sources added. The state government, however, has decided to tread cautiously than rush to the Union government for additional forces to tackle Maoists trained by the LTTE. “First, we want to ascertain whether our suspicion is right or not. If we are convinced of an external hand, then we will approach the Centre,” the sources added. Ballistics report: It’s an AK-47 Highly placed sources revealed on Monday that the initial ballistic report of Saturday night’s encounter with Maoists some 16 km from Belthangady showed that the Karnataka State Reserve Police constable Mahadeva S. Mane was gunned down either with high velocity weapons like an AK-47 assault rifle or a self loading rifle (SLR). The Internal Security Division — a specialised wing of the police force — is conducting a ‘three hour radius’ investigation to track the Naxalites’ escape route after the four hour gun battle. Although he was not sighted, top Maoist cadre Vikram Gowda’s group is suspected of being involved. “We heard a woman’s cry,” officials said, adding that they were hunting for an injured woman. “Anti Naxal Forces say, some 10-12 cadres in the Maoist team included women from the Malekudiya tribe in Dakshin Kannada,” the official source said.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ranthambore tiger protectors left in lurch

Tigers missing from the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan may be old news. But the latest to make news in the premier tiger reserve is the “disappearance” of above Rs 25 lakh from the Staff Welfare Fund, created to provide urgent financial relief to the front line staff in times of crisis and emergency. Part of the money was raised from the sale of about 5,500-6,000 copies of “The Ultimate Ranthambhore Guide”, a book published and co-authored by Sanjana Kapoor priced at Rs 175 each. Bulk of the fund was, however, raised from handling charges levied on tourism activities and Safari trips in the park. With the money allegedly diverted for “non-welfare activities” like construction of anicuts, ponds, bore-wells etc without any tender, the intended beneficiaries of the fund have been left high and dry. The families of at least 10 deceased staff during the last two years could not be paid money for the funeral while the ailing staff lacks the funds for treatment. Brain child of then DFO Ranthambore GV Reddy, the Ranthambore Staff Welfare Society was constituted to reach out to the ground level field staff, including forest guards, cattle guards, foresters etc. “The fund raised from the local level was purely meant to cater to their needs considering the difficult situations they are constantly exposed to”, said Reddy who is presently the Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), Kota. The fund was expected to meet the immediate needs of the affected till there was compensation available from the Government, he added. Giving a boost to the fund collection drive was theatre personality Sanjana and her tiger conservationist husband Valmik Thapar. “We could raise nearly Rs 9 lakh- Rs 10 lakh from the books sold”, says Rajesh Kumar Sharma, senior member of the board. However, in a blessing of sorts for the Society the forest department decided to outsource the handling charges for park Safaris @ Rs 5 and Rs 10 for small and large vehicles respectively. “Unfortunately the fund could hardly benefit us”, lamented Sharma. It got diverted for various construction works and other activities in the park, which otherwise should have been carried out from other available sources, he added. While stressing that the money was not meant for such type of works, the sources further pointed out, “Though the money was for our welfare, our consent was not taken in most cases on the expenses incurred and the money got drained out rapidly,” they complained. A balance of Rs 83,000 is all that is left today, said sources. It is much easier to withdraw the money from this fund, as there is less accountability involved (than for instance from the Ranthambore Foundation) and the staffs can be coerced to submission, the sources added. With the result, the beneficiaries are left in dire straits. A forest guard who did not wish to be named said that he had sustained serious injuries after being hit by the local grazer community near the park and now is struggling with .paralysis on the left side of his body. “Today, at least Rs. one lakh is required to continue the treatment, but where is the money?” he asks. The Chief Wildlife Warden UM Sahai, however, expressed ignorance on diversion of funds. “I will see to it”, he said. Despite repeated attempts, the present DFO YK Sahoo could not be contacted for his comments.

Probe tiger deaths? “CBI has better things to do”

Jabalpur: The Madhya Pradesh High Court has dismissed a PIL seeking a CBI probe into tiger deaths inside Panna Tiger Reserve, saying the investigating agency has "many better things to do". The court was hearing the plea by Bhopal-based NGO Prayatna requesting CBI inquiry into the alleged disappearance of tigers between 2007 and 2009 from the reserve, about 250 km from here. The application cited recommendations made by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to the Madhya Pradesh government for handing over cases related to alleged disappearance of the big cats to the probe agency. "This PIL seeks CBI investigation in this case into the alleged disappearance of some tigers from a forest sanctuary. The CBI has many better things to do. The petition is dismissed," a bench of acting Chief Justice Sushil Harkauli and judge K K Trivedi wrote in their order on September 30. The Panna Reserve, spread in about 542.67 sq km area, is the 22nd tiger reserve of the country and spreads over Panna and Chattarpur districts of the state. According to an internal report by the Madhya Pradesh government, there was no tiger in the Panna Reserve in 2009 census carried out by the authorities there. The report says that there were about 20 tigers in 2006. It cited an example of "fence eating the crop" and strongly recommended a CBI probe in the alleged disappearance of the striped cats. About 19 cases of tigers poaching were noticed by the authorities in the Panna Reserve. PTI

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mahabaleshwar farmers oppose tiger reserve TNN

PUNE: Thousands of farmers in Mahabaleshwar gathered on Sunday afternoon to oppose the Sahyadri Tiger Project, which was initiated last year by combining the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and Chandoli National Park in Satara as they fear it would hamper developmental activities. The meeting was held at Taldeo village, about 15 kms from Mahabaleshwar. Balasaheb Bhilare, member of the Satara Zilla Parishad, said, "The tiger reserve project is most likely to affect people of Patan, Javali and Mahabaleshwar. For us, the only source of income is farming and tourism. If our lands are marked under the reserve, farming activities will stop and the affected families will have to find new sources of income." The villagers also posed the question of security before the guardian minister. Bhilare said, "What security would villagers around the reserve get? They will be most exposed to the reserve and if animals walk into the village, it will pose a danger to them." The conservation plan, which was declared by the state government last year, will come up in an area of 740.5 sq km spread across the districts of Satara, Ratnagiri, Kolhapur and Sangli. The tiger reserve will focus on conservation of habitat, breeding of tigers and ensure food and water availability for tigers. Pramod Shelar, president of the Mahabaleshwar Taluka Sarpanch Sanghtna, said, "When farmers and villagers need to construct a house, there are several restrictions imposed. At the same time, the government is giving space for animals when human populations are multiplying every year. The government has still not relocated villagers displaced by the Koyna dam. The same situation will prevail with the tiger project as well." The land for the reserve is divided into buffer and core areas. The core area will not have human habitation, while in the buffer areas animals and humans can coexist. The reserve includes 83 villages in both the sanctuaries that cover four districts - Satara, Ratnagiri, Kolhapur and Sangli. Many villagers have already been shifted and the remaining will be relocated soon. Meanwhile, Nimbalkar has assured villagers that the issues will be taken up and discussed with the government and a solution will be arrived at after a proper study.

CBI probe demanded to crack poachers, officers nexus in Panna TNN

NAGPUR: Even as wildlife week is being celebrated amid fanfare, Prayatna, an environmental action group from Bhopal, has demanded a CBI probe into missing tigers in Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh. In a letter written to MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on October 1, Ajay Dubey of Prayatna has said that nexus between Panna reserve officials and poachers, as a cause of decimation of tigers in Panna, needs to be probed. "Observation of wildlife week should not turn out to be a fashionable and meaningless event. Poaching is posing a grave threat to tigers. Due to poaching and other reasons, MP has lost its 'tiger state' status. Now, only 257 tigers are left in the state," Dubey warned. Decimation of tigers in Panna is the main reason behind this. Earlier, a demand for a CBI inquiry from several forums was ignored. "It puts a question mark on the attitude of the government on the protection of tigers," Prayatna said. "It is very painful that the government, instead of taking any action against offenders, is interested in protecting the culprits who are highly placed and influential," it alleged. In 2007, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had written to the government to institute a CBI inquiry on poaching in Panna, but no action was taken. NTCA's PK Sen committee had revealed that poaching was one of the main reasons behind decimation of tigers in Panna. A similar demand was made by the NTCA in 2009. On March 3, 2010, forest minister Sartaj Singh had announced a CBI inquiry, but it never happened. Former additional chief secretary MK Roy and director of Panna reserve R Srinivasa Murthy had also submitted a report to PCCF (wildlife), MP, HS Pabla admitting that there is nexus between officials and poachers. According to him, officials buried poaching cases by allegedly accepting bribes from the offenders. Murthy has also stated that 2002 to 2007 was a turbulent period as many tigers went missing in these five years. Dubey has also questioned the MP Government's inaction in not notifying buffer zones around tiger reserves, which is mandatory as per the amended Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

6 tiger cubs are Melghat's new guests Vijay Pinjarkar

NAGPUR: While recent lynching of Navegaon National Park tigress in Bhakru Tola in Chhattisgarh by a furious mob came as a rude shock, there is a good news from Melghat - sighting of six new cubs has thrilled wildlife buffs and officials. "In the past couple of months, tigresses with two cubs (around 6-8 months) each have been recorded in camera traps by the field staff in Sonala range in Ambabarwa wildlife sanctuary, part of Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR), Dhakna and Raipur ranges," revealed an overjoyed AK Mishra, field director and chief conservator of forests (CCF), MTR. He adds, two months ago, driver of a forest vehicle sighted a tiger with a kill in Semadoh tourism zone. He also recorded the movements on his mobile. However, several such claims are not considered unless authenticated. Tigers have always remain elusive in MTR, fondly called as the 'Kipling Country' and known for its mystifying landscape with high hills and deep valleys. Sighting of cubs in three places at a time makes big news in Melghat. Till now, such reports in the region could be heard only from Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district which has a distinction of producing 12-15 tiger cubs every year. Melghat, where sighting of tigers is like cracking jokes, has made a major turnaround over the last two years. The last such record of tiger sighting was in February 2009 from Narnala where a tigress with three cubs was sighted. "With the new additions, we expect tiger numbers to go up to 50-55," Mishra says. However, the NTCA-WII estimation of 2010 puts the tiger count in Melghat at 39. About the success, Mishra says strengthening protection and group patrolling, awareness among villagers by distributing pamphlets and educating them and imposing curbs on grazing have led to improving the situation. "Controlling forest fires is our big successes. From 7.5% with 401 cases, the number of incidents has been brought down to 3.2% with 177 cases," said Mishra. "In the past two years, we seized around 500 cattle and filed cases in the court against illicit grazers. Such measures are yielding results," Mishra says. The field director said relocation of three villages - Barukheda, Amona and Nagartas in Wan sanctuary and partial relocation of Vairat and Churni villages in Melghat sanctuary has also helped in reducing grazing pressure of 4,500 cattle. In 2006, MTR in Amravati was rated as 'poor'. However, in 2011, it has bounced back and has been graded as 'good' by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The result of 2011 management effective evaluation (MEE) puts MTR in line with high-profile reserves like Corbett, Dudhwa, Ranthambore and Manas. Even tiger conservationist Kishore Rithe, who works in Melghat, admits protection mechanism has been revamped and is very systematic despite shortage of trained and good staff. "Villages in core are willing to resettle. If MTR hands over tourism management to communities, it will help improve livelihoods and thus increase public support for tigers," he adds. Melghat's sweet success * Better protection measures, foot patrolling monitoring mechanism * Resettlement of 3 villages done in 2001-02 and 5 (two partially) in 2010 * Getting young forest guards posted in sensitive areas * Concentrating on threats like overgrazing, encroachments and forest fires The area MTR 1,676.93 sq km Gugamal NP 361.28 sq km Melghat WS 788.75 sq km Wan WS 211 sq km Ambabarwa 127.11 sq km Narnala WS 12.35 sq km Buffer Zone & MUA 1,268 sq km (MUA: Multiple use area. NP: National Park. WS: Wildlife Sanctuary)

Project Tiger on endangered list

India’s first wildlife protection programme — Project Tiger — launched 38 years ago may cease to be if the planning commission’s move to downsize centrally sponsored schemes is accepted. The panel has asked the environment ministry to merge Project Tiger, initiated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1973, with other programmes such as the Project Elephant to have one scheme for wildlife protection from the next fiscal. The project was started even before the environment ministry came into existence. There was need to protect endangered species specific to states, including lions and rhinos, panel’s environment adviser Indrani Chandrasekharan told the ministry. It means that 20 % of the funds meant for wildlife conservation will have to be allocated for protection of state-specific endangered species. Nine non-official members of the National Board for Wildlife, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have termed the move retrograde. “All of us are of a unanimous opinion that such a merger would adversely impact our efforts to conserve... our national animal, the tiger,” the members said in a letter to panel’s deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia. The National Tiger Conservation Authority, which administers Project Tiger, got more than Rs600 crore in the 11th plan. The effort is said to be one of the main reasons for tiger population seeing an increase in 2011, after witnessing a decline for almost seven years.