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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tiger trail

Dec 29, 2011, 12.00AM IST The latest tiger population census showed the numbers rising from 1,411 in 2008 to an estimated 1,706. Yet the National Tiger Conservation Authority seems not to be taking any chances. It`s to conduct yearly censuses in India`s 39 tiger reserves, besides the customary headcount every four years. While it`ll provide equipment like camera traps to capture data for analysis, field workers will train for upgraded tracking exercises. With periodic alarms raised about vanishing tigers - recall Sariska or Panna - and credible information about their plight in our tiger belts often hard to come by, the move makes sense. Annual counts will make the conservation effort more accountable, simply by keeping field personnel on their toes. While success in tiger conservation has been uneven across India, 12% of tiger habitat has been lost in just four years thanks to encroachment. Poaching remains lucrative business, not least due to enduring demand for tiger parts in places like China. Nor is the poacher-forest official nexus a secret. It`s no wonder tiger-rich Karnataka is to form a Special Tiger Protection Force, a first in India. Taking on poachers and smugglers, STPF patrols must feature in other tiger-dense states too. Let`s also boost well-regulated tourism to nurture both tigers and the ecosystem that the big cats are part of. By attracting resources and attention to commercially packaged reserves, conservation will offer its own economic incentive. The more cocooned protected zones are, the less transparently they`re managed. Let`s make the tiger accessible to wildlife enthusiasts. That way, we`ll spread awareness about the endangered animal and raise collective stakes in its protection.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Namdhapa Park to have a tiger protection force

PTI | 12:12 PM,Dec 28,2011 Utpal Boruah Itanagar, Dec 28 (PTI) With the Arunachal Pradesh governmment deciding to raise a tiger protection force, the sprawling Namdapha National Park, a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, can expect the rampant encroachment and poaching to come down substantially. The tiger reserve, spread over 1985 Sqare km in Changlang district, has been facing the twin problems for much too long to be ignored and the raising of the force would be of great help, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest B S Sajwan said told PTI. The force would be set up on the lines of one for the Pakke Tiger Project of East Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh, Sajwan said. “With this, not only will the unemployed youths in the buffer zones get employment, but the reserve and its habitat can be kept from the clutches of poachers and encroachers,” he observed. The state government is also keen to thoroughly revamp the tiger reserve with a slew of development projects to be undertaken soon. The main problem faced by the Namdhapa Tiger Reserve since 2005 is the encroachment into its core area by 444 Lisu families of Vijaynagar Administrative Circle, adjacent to the reserve, belonging to 84 families at five locations. The authorities had carried out evictions in the past, but the success rate was low owing to lack of manpower and resources. Presently, the staff comprised a mere 24 forest guards and eight foresters manning the park which has a core area of 1,807.82 square km. The remaining 177.18 square km is a reserve forest.

No merger of Project Tiger with other schemes: MoEF

TUESDAY, 27 DECEMBER 2011 22:34 PIONEER NEWS SERVICE | NEW DELHI HITS: 73 The Planning Commission’s proposal to merge three Centrally-sponsored schemes of Project Tiger, Project Elephant and the Integrated Development under Wildlife Habitat into one, has been junked by the Ministry of Environment & Forest (MoEF). Members of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision of Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan was conveyed in a recent Standing Committee meeting of the board. Maintaining that it has come as a relief, the members pointed out that the nature of schemes of “Project Tiger” and “Project Elephant” are completely different from each other with their own respective identities. Their mergre would have created an adverse impact on the conservation of both the National Animal as well as the National Heritage Animal, they felt. Concerns were raised when the Planning Committee set up a subcommittee, chaired by its member BK Chaturvedi, to restructure the three Centrally-sponsored schemes. According to sources, Chaturvedi had discussed the issue with MoEF, to work out a solution for ensuring flexibility and efficiency of the schemes. Indrani Chandrasekharan, adviser to Planning Commission, wrote to MoEF secretary T Chatterjee to take action in the matter. The sources maintained that she had even gone a step ahead stating that the mergre was also proposed to include the conservation of lions and rhinos. This rang alarm bells among the NBWL members who wrote a strongly-worded letter to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia mentioning of the serious implications of the mergre of the three schemes. The letter was signed by MK Ranjitsinh, Bittu Sahgal, Kishor Rithe, Prerna Bindra, TR Shankar Raman, Divyabhanusinh Chavda, Biswajit Mohanty, Asad Rahmani and Bibhab Kumar Talukdar. The members pointed out that as per the figures of 1700 big cats announced early this year, India is the home range country of more than half the tiger population of the world. It also has the largest number of Asiatic elephants. The importance of Project tiger can be assessed from the fact that it was initiated at the instance of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi way back in 1973 and had existed much long before than MoEF itself that was established in 1985.

NTCA to conduct tiger census in India annually

The annual census would be conducted in the tiger reserves of India, including six in Madhya Pradesh, namely Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Satpura, Panna and Sanjay Dubri tiger reserves, sources added. However, the ongoing practice of counting the big cats in the forest areas every four years would also continue in tandem, they said. In Madhya Pradesh, the census would be conducted in cooperation with the Wildlife Institute of India ( WII). However, logistics for the exercise is yet to be put in place, sources said, adding that cameras and others equipment for the task had not been purchased so far. "We are going to collect the data on the big cat using cameras on the transit routes and then analyse it. We have been assigned the task of collecting and analysing the data," sources said. According to them, as a prelude to the census operation, a two-day regional training workshop for the forest department officials in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra has been organised in Panna Tiger Reserve from tomorrow. "More than 100 forest department officials from Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will take part in the workshop," they said.

Plan for tiger reserve to be sent to Union Ministry for approval

S. RAMESH A tiger that was captured in monitoring cameras installed in Sathyamangalam forests in Erode district. Photo: Special Arrangment Forest Department has identified core and buffer zones The proposal for the creation of a tiger reserve in Sathyamangalam forests has reached an advanced stage and is expected to land in the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for approval by the end of January 2012. The Forest Department has completed identifying the core and buffer zones for the tiger reserve, a significant step before the creation of an exclusive protection zone for the big cats. A total of 1.41 lakh hectares in Sathyamangalam forests have been earmarked for the reserve. Of the total area, the core zone comprises 91,726.9 hectares. The forest officials are now studying the cattle and human population in the area. “We have seven forest settlements and 12 revenue settlements inside the area. The data collection is nearing completion and we are going to conduct a stakeholders meeting with the participation of residents from these settlements soon,” Conservator of Forests, Erode Circle D. Arun told The Hindu. “The forest region in this part of the State has a healthy tiger population. The Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary is home to at least 28 tigers and this has been confirmed by the study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),” Mr. Arun said. The creation of the reserve will enable the wildlife managers to ensure greater protection to the wild cats. Tourists and the minimal construction activities will be allowed only in the buffer zone, while forest officials alone will be permitted entry in the areas falling under the core zone. The authorities in the Central government are very positive on the creation of a tiger reserve in Sathyamangalam. “We have submitted a proposal to the union ministry seeking Rs. 32 lakh to install cameras in different parts of the forests. Currently, the WWF has installed cameras covering about 250 sq km area. We need to cover more areas and monitor the movement of tigers for further data collection and analysis. The camera trap images will also help us identify the movement of poachers. We expect the Centre to sanction the proposal very soon,” Mr. Arun pointed out.

MoEF defers clearance for Suryachakra power plant in MP

Press Trust of India / Hyderabad December 28, 2011, 10:53 IST In a setback to Suryachakra Power Venture, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has deferred clearance for a 1,320-MW coal-based power plant being developed by the company in Madhya Pradesh as it apparently falls within the buffer zone of a tiger reserve. Suryachakra Power Venture is a subsidiary of BSE-listed Suryachakra Power Corporation Ltd. This is the third city-based enterprise to run into an MOEF roadblock. Last year, the MOEF had cancelled the environmental clearance issued to Nagarjuna Construction Company Ltd (NCCL) for its proposed 2,640-MW power plant in Srikakulam district, in Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, the ministry recently issued orders to East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd (ECEPL), another city-based power producer, to halt work on its 2,640-MW Bhavanapadu thermal power project in Srikakulam district in AP, as several serious complaints had poured in against the company and these were under investigation. In the case of the Suryachakra plant, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the MOEF was of the opinion that the project may fall within the buffer area of the Sanjay Gandhi Tiger Reserve proposed to be set up in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh. The committee ordered the company to obtain a no-objection certificate from the concerned authorities in the Wildlife Department. According to the company, land acquisition for the project is yet to be completed and allocation of a coal linkage is being considered within the Ministry of Coal. "The committee noted that even though the project proponent claims there are no national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, tiger/biosphere reserves, etc, within 10 km of the site, prima facie, it appears the project may be falling within the proposed buffer of the Sanjay Gandhi Tiger Reserve," the EAC said in its observation.

Tiger kills rhino in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

PTI | 07:12 PM,Dec 27,2011 Lakhimpur (UP), Dec 27 (PTI) A six-year-old rhino was attacked and killed by a tiger in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, its deputy director said here today. "The park authorities came to know of the rhino killing by a tiger, when its partially eaten carcass was recovered near Salukapur," Ganesh Bhat, DTR deputy director, said. This is the second incident of a tiger attack on an adult rhino, he said. Earlier, a tiger had attacked and injured a female rhino in Dudhwa.

Karnataka tigers get commando security

TUESDAY, 27 DECEMBER 2011 21:24 KESTUR VASUKI | BANGALORE HITS: 108 Karnataka will have a commando force — Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) — to protect its diminishing big cat population from smugglers and poachers, for the first time in India. Come January 4, this special unit will guard tiger reserves on direction of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF). Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Karnataka BK Singh told The Pioneer that the force will protect over 300 tigers and their habitat. According to Singh, this STPF has 58 personnel comprising an assistant conservator of forests (ACF), three range forest officers (RFOs), 14 foresters and 40 forest guards. This force is fully trained to handle modern weapons. He said, “This special squad is undergoing training at police school in Yelahanka. This one-and-a-half-month training will end on January 3 and they will be deployed at tiger reserves to prevent poaching. This novel initiative will help save tigers.” According to statistics, since January 2006, more than 48 tigers have died in Karnataka, 25 tigers killed by poachers. The STPF, equipped with modern weapons, binoculars and wireless sets, is expected to prove a serious deterrent. “The 13-week training includes physical, unarmed combat, weapons, field engineering, map reading, disaster management, first aid and crowd control management,” said Singh. According to forest department records, three and two tigers were poached in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Karnataka is the most tiger dense State. The recent census in Karnataka shows six major reserves, with a population of over 300 tigers, of the total 1,700 in the country. In 2008, the Centre had given a one-time grant of Rs50 crore to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for raising, arming and deploying STPFs in 13 sensitive tiger reserves — Dudhwa-Katerniaghat, Corbett, Ranthambore, Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pakke, Bandipur, Tadoba Andhari, Mudumalai, Kaziranga and Simlipal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Time again, for the big cats to be counted

TNN | Dec 27, 2011, 02.41AM IST BHOPAL: A big cat census covering all tiger reserves of the country, including the six in Madhya Pradesh (MP), is slated for next year, a top official said. It would now be an annual affair. Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Dharmendra Shukla said the national tiger conservation authority (NTCA) has decided to do the census annually in the reserves, from next year. Shukla said the census in the state would be done in cooperation with the Wildlife Institute of India ( WII). However, he added, the tiger counting being carried out in the forest areas every four years would also continue in tandem. "In the run up to the census, a two-day regional training workshop for forest department officials of MP, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra has been organised in state's Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) from December 28," according to Shukla. Logistics, however, are still not in place. Shukla said the census exercise will take some time since the cameras and others modern equipment for the job have yet to be acquired. "We are going to collect data on the big cat using cameras on the transit routes and then analyse it," he said. "We have been assigned the task of collecting and analysing the data,'' he added. As a prelude to the census operation, a two-day regional training workshop for forest department officials of MP, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra has been organised in state's Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) from December 28. ""More than 100 forest department officials drawn from Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and MP are going to take part in the workshop," Panna park's deputy director V S Parihar said. The big cat census will cover Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Satpura, Panna and Sanjay Dubri tiger reserves. FEWER ROARS IN MP MP has lost its pre-eminent tag as the country's tiger state to Karnataka, with the population of this magnificient feline in the state declining to 257 by 2011, from 300 tigers in 2008. Panna lost its tigers to poachers by early 2009. Forest officials, however, refuse to accept that the striped cat's numbers had declined in Kanha and claim that something must have gone wrong with the last tiger census. On the other hand, the tiger population had increased to 300 in Karnataka according to the tiger census of 2001, up from from 290 in 2008. Tiger census report of 2008 Tiger census report of 2011 Tiger Reserves Kanha 89 60 Bandhavgarh 47 59 Panna 24 03 Satpura 39 43 Pench (MP-Maharashtra) 33 65 Sanjay Dubri Not known 05

No merger of Project Tiger with other schemes

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 27, 2011, 06.30AM IST NAGPUR: The planning commission's proposal to merge three centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) - Project Tiger, Project Elephant and the Integrated Development under Wildlife Habitat ( IDWH) into one, has been dropped. This was revealed by minister for environment and forest Jayanthi Natarajan to the members at the recently-held standing committee meeting of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). Although Natarajan did not respond to a mail sent to her on the issue, members attending the meeting were informed about the move when the issue figured in the Delhi meeting. "Now the government is not merging all the three schemes," Natarajan is learnt to have told the NBWL. TOI on September 29, had reported that merger of three schemes would hit tigers hard. The move was strongly opposed by all nine members of NBWL. The NBWL is the highest body to decide on all wildlife issues. The NBWL members have thanked Natarajan and plan panel deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia for showing great concern towards the serious implications of the merger of the three schemes. A subcommittee headed by BK Chaturvedi was set by the planning commission to restructure the CSS. Chaturvedi, who is a member of the planning commission, had discussed the issue with the MoEF on July 29, 2011. The committee's brief was to find ways to enhance flexibility, scale and efficiency of the scheme. Panic buttons were pressed when on August 17, Indrani Chandrasekharan, adviser to planning commission, wrote to MoEF secretary T Chatterjee to take action in the matter. She had stated that the merger was decided to include conservation of lions and rhinos too. However, on September 17, all the 9 NBWL members wrote a strongly-worded letter to Ahluwalia expressing shock. The letter was signed by MK Ranjitsinh, Bittu Sahgal, Kishor Rithe, Prerna Bindra, TR Shankar Raman, Divyabhanusinh Chavda, Biswajit Mohanty, Asad Rahmani and Bibhab Kumar Talukdar. The members felt that schemes like 'Project Tiger' and 'Project Elephant' should have their own identity. Such a merger would be a retrograde step and would adversely impact efforts to conserve wildlife and tiger, which is the national animal. Project Tiger was initiated at the instance of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1973 and, therefore, has been in existence long before the MoEF itself was established in 1985. "With over 1,700 tigers as estimated in the figures announced earlier this year, India not only has more than half the tigers of the world but also has the largest number of Asiatic elephants. Such a merger would have been suicidal," a section of members told TOI.

Tiger kills woman

PTI | 05:12 PM,Dec 26,2011 Lakhimpur (UP), Dec 26 (PTI) A 65-year-old woman was killed by a tiger in Matera reserve forest area in Dhaurehra range here, an official said today. The mutilated body of Maikin, a resident of Pratappur village, was found early this morning, Dhaurehra Range Officer N N Pandey said. The woman went to the forest reserve area on Kheri-Bahraich border last evening to collect firewoods but did not return, he said. Maikin's body with one leg eaten up by the tiger was found by her family members, Pandey said.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tiger force to take on poachers

December 26, 2011 DC Bengaluru For the first time, the Karnataka forest department will be deploying the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) which will guard the forests of Bandipur, Badra and Nagarhole against poachers from the first week of January. The deputation of the STPF forces had been in pipeline since 2008 when the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had made recommendations that STPFs should be raised in 13 sensitive tiger reserves — Dudhwa-Katerniaghat, Corbett, Ranthambhore, Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pakke, Bandipur, Tadoba Andhari, Mudumalai, Kaziranga and Simlipal. As per the initial plans the STPF was to be deployed only at Bandipur in Karnataka, however, the forest department is now planning to deploy units at Badra and Nagerhole as well. On January 3, 2012, the first unit comprising 14 foresters and 40 forest guards will complete their training, said sources. The forest guards have undergone three weeks of intensive training in policing, patrolling, combat and even intelligence at the Armed Police Training Centre in Yelahanka. “The guards have been given intensive commando training, specialising in the use of SLRs, small arms, besides hand-to-hand combat. Since it is a forest unit, they also have been taught how to interact with communities and about the Forests Acts and rules,” said B.K. Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife). The annual expenditure for maintaining the STPF unit will be around `97.76 lakh. The forest department has also requested the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for `620 lakh for construction of quarters and buildings for the tiger conservation unit. “This will be first STPF unit that will be commissioned in the country. We will be increase the unit strength later,” added Mr Singh. The STPF unit will be divided into three groups and will be solely responsible for taking anti-poaching measures and will have the power to “shoot to kill”, he informed.

WWF study confirms at least 25 tigers in Sathyamangalam forests

K A Shaji, TNN | Dec 26, 2011, 04.42AM IST COIMBATORE: A recent study by World Wildlife Fund ( WWF) using camera trap method at the Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary has confirmed that the 1.41 lakh hectare-stretch of forest at the confluence of Western and Eastern Ghats is home to at least 25 tigers. A DNA finger print-based project initiated by the state forest department had collected 150 samples of pugmarks from Sathyamangalam forests recently and 69 among them were found positive at the tests conducted at Centre for Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. The lab findings indicate that the region is home to tigers, ranging from 18 to 30. Armed with the two study reports, the forest department has prepared a detailed project report for submission before the state government and it would come up for consideration before the cabinet in a couple of weeks. The Union ministry of environment and forests has already advised the state government to make it a tiger reserve under Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. Kalakkad-Mundanthurai, Indira Gandhi National Park in Anamalai and Mudumalai National Park are the existing tiger reserves in the state. "Sathyamangalam forests deserve the tiger reserve status. If declared, that would help total habitat improvement. There would be projects that would help not only the tigers but also the entire flora and fauna of the region,'' said divisional forest officer (DFO) N Sathish. Apart from tigers, the forests are known for a large number of vultures and elephants. "It is home to one fourth of the elephants in the state with an estimated population of 1,250. Sathyamangalam is also a migratory path for over 6,000 Asiatic elephants which move from the Nilgiris to Bandipur in Karnataka,'' Sathish said. It also has a large number of black bucks and hyenas. Its links with Mudumalai, Bandipur and BR Hills sanctuaries would turn advantageous in protection of big cats as they can roam around freely in a large contiguous stretch of forests without any disturbance. It was only in August this year that Sathyamangalam got wildlife sanctuary status. Recently, the sanctuary was expanded with the inclusion of forest reserves like Guthiyalathur, Akurjakkarai, Thalamalai, Berabetta, Ullepalayam and the eastern slopes of the Nilgiris, under it. These forests, which were considered Veerappan territory, are under threat from the laterite-mining and timber mafias. If the forest is declared a tiger sanctuary, more personnel would be sanctioned for its protection. That, forest officials said, would be a major help in keep the mafiosi at bay.

Drop in MP's tiger population cause of concern

SATURDAY, 24 DECEMBER 2011 With the tiger population in the State declining from 300 in 2006 to 257 in the 2011 census wildlife experts have called for more efforts by the Forest Department to solve pending cases of poaching, writes Ritesh Mishra There was a 12 per cent rise in the population of big cats in the country in 2011, but Madhya Pradesh lost its 'Tiger State' status to Karnataka in this passing year. According to the tiger census of 2011, the tiger population in Madhya Pradesh dropped to 257 from 300 tigers in 2006. According to wildlife experts the causes of the decline in the tiger population in Madhya Pradesh are many but one of the most important was that most of the poaching cases were not solved till now, which has given an edge to the poachers and they continued hunting the felines. However, it is not new, but the pending cases of the forest offences are really concerning for the wildlife experts and even for the forest officials and they believe that the Forest Department should take the matter seriously as soon as possible. Reflecting sheer ineffectiveness, apathy and dilly-dallying in solving the forest offences, the figures of the Forest Department revealed that the pending cases till December 2011 in Madhya Pradesh was seven times more than the cases registered in the current year till now. Meanwhile, commenting over the issue, a retired senior official of the Forest Department, requesting anonymity, said that there can be various reasons behind the pending case as it could be lack of staff or negligence. "If more than 60,000 cases are pending in the Forest Department then it is concerning and senior officials should take responsibility," the officer added. Total number of forest offences registered in records of the Forest Department is 7,592 and the total number of pending cases is 60,280. More specifically, total 47,715 are pending for the last 12 months, which reflects the working of the department. The highest number of pending cases is in Bhopal, which is more than 10,800. More surprisingly, in the total 9,542 cases, investigation is pending for the last one year in the State capital only. Moreover, the highest number of forest offence cases has been registered in Bhopal, which sums up to 1,663 followed by Jabalpur (1,173) and Panna (104). RTI activist Ajay Dubey, while talking to The Pioneer said the main reason behind the pending of these cases was that the prosecution of the cases was not done properly. It was due to the apathy of some senior officials of the Forest Department. He further said that in various reports of the Forest Department it was made clear the most concerning issue for the department were the pending cases and the delay in the process but nothing appropriate has been done till now. "I don't know why the Forest Department is ineffective regarding the forest offences," he added. Bandhavgarh and Satpura National Park registered 40 cases each in 2011. Specifically, according to the records of forest offences maintained in the website of the department the cases registered from January 1 to December 7, highest number of the cases was of illegal felling (6097), in which total 1,248 cases are of Bhopal. Further in Jabalpur (1,063) and Seoni (1,129) cases have been registered. In Balaghat, where total 98 cases of forest offences have been registered, 90 are of illegal felling. The most important fact according to details of cases registered is about Panna. The highest number of poaching cases registered was in Panna (28) followed by Bhopal. The highest number of cases of illegal grazing is 30, out of 70 cases registered all over the State. The senior officials of Panna Tiger Reserve have already mentioned in a confidential report to HS Pabla that there are instances of involvement of Panna forest officials with the poachers of nearby districts. Further according to records maintained on investigation status of the forest offences cases, Bhopal ranks the top, with total 10,814 cases, followed by Jabalpur (3,937), Seoni (4,248) and Sagar (7,185), till December 7, 2011. As per details maintained about the pending cases of National Parks of Madhya Pradesh, total 417 are pending in Panna, 1,068 in Kanha and 381 in Bandhavgarh. According to wildlife experts there is a lack of coordination among the forest officials in solving the cases owing to which thousands of cases are pending in nearly all the major districts. The experts suggested that the Forest Department should start a drive in solving the pending cases as soon as possible.

39 tiger reserves mired in problems

Dec 24, 2011 - Rashme Sehgal | Age Correspondent | New Delhi A Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of the functioning of India’s 39 tiger reserves has come down heavily on India’s premier Corbett Tiger Reserve (TR), which due to its high-profile nature should have set a benchmark for tiger conservation. Instead, the MEE points out that the human-wildlife conflict in the buffer zone of this reserve has intensified while the critical corridors in which animals move have become increasingly fragmented. The MEE stresses that “too much time and manpower is involved in managing tourism and tourist facilities which takes away the focus from the primary task of the Corbett reserve”. But this seems to be a problem across all reserves. The Bandavgarh TR is having to cope with one lakh tourists per annum from 2008. A large number of resorts have come up around the reserve resulting in increasing human-wildlife conflict and preventing tiger dispersal opportunities. The Ranthambore TR, comprising largely of a habitat island, faces a similar problem both in tourism excess and man-wildlife conflict. Other reserves such as the Dudha Tiger Reserve located next to the porous international border with Nepal faces the problem of poaching and wildlife trade. The Panna TR had been left with a defunct tiger population populated as it is with Pardhis, a tribe carrying powerful firearms and known for their poaching activities. Problems of mining are putting habitats under pressure especially in the Sahayadri TR and the Tadoba-Andhari TR. Other problems include a failure to protect rare animals. The Satkosia reserve has failed to save the gharial in its only non-Himalayan river system. It has just three gharials left even though this is the place where the Indian crocodile project was initiated. The Udanti-Sitanadi reserve has failed to protect the Asiatic wild buffalo whose population is down to eight from which four have been kept in connectivity.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Buxa roars back, count finds 20 tigers in park

Krishnendu Mukherjee, TNN | Dec 23, 2011, 06.47AM IST KOLKATA: Buxa Tiger Reserve, a favourite holiday destination for wildlife lovers where tales abound of phantom tiger sightings, may have finally regained its stripes. A report by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has concluded that the North Bengal reserve - which has never had a steady tiger population and hasn't reported a sighting for over a decade - is home to 20 tigers, four of which are female. "The report was sent to us last week," said SB Mondal, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife). "The scientists have done a DNA analysis of the scat samples sent to them in March. We always knew there were tigers in the park, but the sightings were low. Now, with the CCMB's report of 20 tigers, we have enough reason to back our claims." According to him, almost 247 samples, collected between January and March, were sent to the research institute. S Shivaji of CCMB confirmed the outcome, but refused to divulge details, saying only the Bengal government was authorized to comment. Though Buxa hasn't been able to hold on to its tigers, its location - in the heart of a forest corridor extending to Assam in the east and Bhutan in the north - makes it an ideal home for the big cats. A wildlife expert, who didn't want to be quoted, said such DNA studies did not necessarily give the correct information "There are chances of over estimation and decaying in samples collected," he said. Experts are fearing presence of only 'dispersing' tigers - those from other forests -in the park due to a noticeable variation in the sex ratio. "The ratio of 16 male and four female tigers is quite unusual. Going by this finding, it seems none of the male tigers are resident big cats of the park. They are the dispersing ones," said conservation biologist Raghu Chundawat. Echoing his view, expert Biswajit Roychowdhury of Nature Environment and Wildlife Society said: "Buxa has good connectivity with the larger tiger landscape at Manas Reserve and Bhutan's Royal Manas National Park. So, chances of transient tigers moving in and around the park can't be refuted." Based on scat and pugmark analyses, forest officials believe tigers do frequent the park, but never settle down due to pressure from more than 30 villages inside the park. A recent report by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) said inadequacy in habitat management, socio-political issues, lack of training in wildlife management are posing challenge to a proper management of the reserve.

Bahelia poachers enter Vidarbha in a big way

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 23, 2011, 12.57AM IST NAGPUR: At a time when coal mining is being perceived as the biggest threat to tigers, poachers from Bahelia community of Katni in Madhya Pradesh have entered forested parts of Vidarbha and are planning to strike it rich. Bahelias are infamous for tiger and wildlife poaching in India. Experts say this poaching community members simultaneously operate at multiple locations at a given time within any region of the country. They literally kill wild animals like a portable slaughterhouse. The Nature Conservation Society Amravati (NCSA), a NGO working for tiger conservation in Amravati district, received information on Monday that a jackal was trapped in a steel trap and the animal was moving with it in the open scrub forest near Loni village on Amravati-Akola highway. The location is close to Karanja Sohol sanctuary. NCSA volunteer Amit Wadatkar rescued the jackal from the trap and informed the forest officers. Mohan Jha, chief conservator of forest (CCF) for Amravati Circle, sounded a red alert in Amravati and Akola forest divisions. A RFO along with wildlife activist Vishal Bansod were sent for investigation. As the jackal was injured, it could not hunt and died due to hunger. The poachers, after seeing the jackal with steel trap, might have escaped from the spot. A local dhaba owner confirmed presence of four vehicles of Bahelias who had set up the trap in the scrub forest. In March 2010, a leopard was caught in a similar trap in the same area but the animal was rescued and released. During the same period, a hare had died in a trap near Ranmangali forest near Nagpur. Tigers in Ranmangli are on the edge. Recently, a full-grown male tiger from Tipeshwar had died after getting entangled in a steel wire trap. These cases expose weak protection and staff is not moving in their respective beats to know what is happening. Poaching activity is at its peak during the past three years. Since 2008, at least half a dozen tigresses have gone missing from the Tadoba landscape, turning cubs orphaned that are living a caged life. Some cubs died due to hunger as they were unable to hunt. Satpuda Foundation had in 2008 urged Maharashtra government to track movements of Bahelias around tiger habitats in Vidarbha, but no action has been taken by both police and forest departments.

Tigers suffering from stress?

Dec 23, 2011 - Rashme Sehgal | Age Correspondent | New Delhi Are tigers in the Sariska tiger reserve suffering from high stress levels? The failure of the three females to reproduce despite having been translcoated to this reserve over the last three-and-a-half years has raised the hackles of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Scats tests of all five tigers have been sent to a Hyderabad laboratory to try and understand why no breeding has taken place so far. Dr Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of NTCA admits, “the lack of reproduction has become a major source of concern for us.” Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden R.N. Mehrotra believes one of the reasons for their stress can be attributed to the heavy road traffic that plies the Jaipur-Alwar highway which cuts through the Sariska tiger reserve. The presence of a large numbers of villages inside the reserve is also being perceived as a source of irritability for the animals. “The tigers don’t feel safe in the reserve. Breeding is successful only when a female tigress feels comfortable in its environment. The heavy vehicular traffic and the large numbers of devotees that visit the Hanuman temple (located inside the reserve) every Tuesday from the whole state of Rajasthan unnerves these animals,” Mr Mehrotra believes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MP tiger reserves to get rescue units

TNN | Dec 22, 2011, 05.26AM IST BHOPAL: A year after Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan participated in a campaign to raise funds to save tiger by camping in Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, his efforts have started paying off with rapid rescue units (RRUs) on wheels come to help the striped-animals in distress in the world famous Kanha Tiger Reserve. "The RRUs are being provided to state's tiger reserves from the funds raised by Bachchan in a save tiger campaign, and with the help of Wildlife Trust of India ( WCTI)," officials said. "We have got two well-equipped RRUs on Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) recently," Kanha Tiger Reserve deputy director H S Mohanta told TOI. He said that the RRU was equipped with clothing for all seasons, torches, generators among others gadgets for staffers to rush to the ailing tiger in deep jungle. "The SUV is having ample equipment to rescue striped animal," he said. "We have also got two RRUs and they have been returned for upgradation," Panna Tiger Reserve director RS Murthy said. Satpura Tiger Reserve too has got one RRU. "Right now it has been sent for some up-gradation," reserve director R P Singh said. One RRU each will be pressed into service in Pench and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserves shortly, officials said. "I don't have any detailed information about RRUs. I have to check it out with the tiger reserves. Five reserves are going to have these RRUs," additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) T R Sharma said. Bachchan had auctioned his sunglasses for a whopping Rs 40 lakh to his son Abhishek in a telephonic bid under the save tiger campaign in Pench in December, 2010.

Leopard released into Satpura tiger reserve

TNN | Dec 22, 2011, 05.11AM IST BHOPAL: The wild leopard that strayed into Van Vihar Zoo here two-day back, was on Wednesday transported and released in the wild of Satpura Tiger Reserve in adjoining Hoshangabad district, officials said. The leopard was captured on Tuesday morning in a housing in the Zoo after it forayed into the park and stayed for 15-hour on a tree inside a lion enclosure. "Without tranquilizing the animal, we managed to guide it to a cage after a hard labour of four hours. We placed the cage on wheels just right in-front of the door of the housing where it had been captured, "Zoo assistant director A K Khare said. He said that the animal in the cage, was taken by road and on a boat, and after covering a distance of 4 km on the waters of Tawa river, it was taken to the jungles of Satpura. The leopard had strayed into Van Vihar. It frequently entered into the human habitat areas around the Zoo, officials said. Two days back, it forayed into the zoo and stayed on the tree before it was captured in the housing bait was put on Tuesday morning, officials said.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tiger parks itself near Patna, won’t budge

Dec 21, 2011 - Rashme Sehgal | Age Correspondent | New Delhi The last 15 days have seen the Nitish Kumar government deeply concerned about the presence of a tiger which has parked himself in a small riverine island created by the Gandak river just 20 km from the state capital of Patna. The tiger has traversed 300 km from the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) to reach this island covered by tall grasses and with plenty of neelgai and wild pigs for prey. The matter of concern for the state government, as it is for the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), is that this majestic animal should not stray into a heavily populated village where there is a strong likelihood of the animal coming to harm. The VTR is located in the west Champaran district of Bihar and is contiguous to the Royal Chitwan park in Nepal. The Gandak river flows through the Valmiki park and tiger experts, following this tiger’s pug marks, vouch that this animal has a preference for walking along this river and has undertaken this self-driven expedition earlier also. Dr Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of the NTCA, said, “He has done this long march earlier and is presently ensconced close to Patna. Our main concern is he should not cause to any harm and should make his way back to the Valmiki Tiger Reserve.” A local DFO, a trained veterinarian who was tracking him, last week chanced to come close to the animal and got mauled. “He was trying to tranquillise him but happened to get very close to the animal who was hidden behind tall grasses,” said a forest officer who is also monitoring his movements. The NTCA has shot off a letter to the Bihar chief secretary asking him to ensure that villagers do not stray too close to where he is at present. So far, fortunately, the tiger has steered clear of nearby villages. A tiger expert from the Wildlife Trust of India and a special team of trekkers are keeping a close track of the animal. Tigers can easily walk a length of up to 40 km a day. Since the Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal is contiguous to the VTR, tigers are known to have walked from the north right down to Barabanki.

Periyar Tiger Reserve becomes BCRLIP

Express News Service , The New Indian Express THEKKADY: As a major recognition of its conservation programme and ecological development, the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) has become a centre for the new world project Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvements Project (BCRLIP) aided by International Development Association (IDA) and� Global� EnvironmentFacility (GEF). The project is worth `3 crore with a time period of five years under which three centres, Agasthyarmala in Tamil Nadu and Geer forest in Gujarat, along with Periyar Tiger Reserve, have been selected. Under the project, the PTR will be a learning centre for the BCRLIP project. The PTR has already been declared a centre of excellence.� The BCRLIP has� been initiated with an objective to impart training and developing skills for participatory conservation movement.� Under the project, training will be given to people� across the country, conservation skill development class� will be provided, cross country visits to other national parks will be undertaken and local visits for� the protection staff and NGOs will be given.� Besides, landscape approach to conservation, moving beyond wildlife sector to involve other agencies and building partnerships with private and public entities will be given emphasis,” PTR officials said. Under the project, more contract staff will be recruited to conduct research and to give training to visiting delegates. � “For the project, ecologist, sociologist, regional planner, training officer, training assistant, field assistant and accountant will be �recruited on a contract basis. � “These people along with other researchers in the Periyar Foundation will impart training to the visiting delegates from across the country,” official said. According to PTR Deputy Director Sanjayan Kumar, the DCRLIP is a recognition for the ongoing conservation programme undergoing in the PTR. “It is a major achievement for the PTR that it selected along with three other centres for the BCRLIP programme,” Kumar said. “This will impart training for the people in the conservation of the wildlife and ecology. The training to the people will be about conservation which will help the prevention of forest and wildlife,” Sanjayan Kumar added.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Forest department claims tiger count on rise

Express News Service , The New Indian Express KARWAR: According to the officials of Wild Life Division of the Forest Department, the tiger population in Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve (DATR), in Uttara Kannada district is increasing. In 1997 (according to tiger census), there were 13 tigers- 11 in Dandeli Wild Life Sanctuary and 2 in Anshi National Park. In 2010 census, 33 tigers were recorded in Khanapur-Sharavathi belt of Western Ghat Ranges. This year, the tiger population has increased to 39 in this belt. However, wildlife activists contradicted the statement. The census is carried out on the basis of pugmarks, tiger calls, scat and litters left by the tigers. The actual sighting of the tiger is rarely done. Under these circumstances, error in estimating the tiger population is bound to occur, they opined. They pointed out that large area of DATR consists of evergreen and semi evergreen forests, which tigers dislike. According to a wildlife activist, the number of tigers may not exceed 15 in the belt. Officials asserted that steps are being taken to improve grassland and provide other facilities like water sources in DATR. DATR covers nearly 600 Sq Km of Dandeli Wild Life Reserve and 399.89 Sq Km of Anshi National Park. However, there are as many as 52 villages consisting of 4,725 families in core/critical area of DATR. The problem of rehabilitation of these families is a menace to the department. As pointed out by DCF of Dandeli Wild Life Division, Sunil Panwar, no one can evict these families. The forest department is taking steps to vacate these families by offering Rs 10 lakh per family, and through educating them.

Green stoves burn bright in Bihar's tiger land

IANS | Dec 19, 2011, 06.04PM IST VALMIKI NAGAR (Bihar): More than a hundred households living within Bihar's Valmiki Tiger Reserve have switched from the traditional mud stoves to the more efficient eco-friendly 'chulhas' to reduce their dependency on forest for fuel wood - a move that would boost conservation of the big cat. It is hoped the green stoves or 'chulhas' would help cut fuel wood use by 40 percent, which would also allow the forest to rejuvenate and increase security for the tigers. The green stoves use maximum energy produced from burning of fuel wood. An iron grate positioned just above the stove's base provides room for air circulation that helps the fuel to burn efficiently. The households are part of the 25 revenue villages in Done Valley, that is spread over a 45 sq km area in the heart of the sprawling Valmiki reserve, the only tiger sanctuary in the state. "Seven villages are currently part of the initiative, the remaining ones will be taken up in phases," said Samir Sinha, who is implementing the project and manager of NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). Some 18,000 villagers in the valley depend on agriculture for livelihood. However, during the off-season many migrate to places as far as Delhi, Punjab and Gujarat to work as labourers, said Sinha. The Valmiki reserve, an 880 sq km sal forest on the Terai foothills, is home to 11 tigers, according to the reserve's Field Director Santosh Tiwari. The reserve extends up to Chitwan National Park in Nepal in the north, providing hundreds of miles of contiguous forest cover to many other threatened animals like sambar, nilgai, gaur, rhino and various species of primates. "Of the seven villages, Matiarwa has achieved 100 percent participation. The rest are progressing in varying degrees," Sinha told IANS. Other villages are Majuraha, Gardi, Naurangia, Piprahwa, Khairahni and Senrahni. Stakeholders' participation, acceptable design, monitoring and problem solving were crucial for the success of the present initiative, said Sinha. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and Germany's Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union are the other supporters of the project. Pune-based research organisation Appropriate Rural Technology Institute was contacted to train the local women, since they were the main users, said Sinha. Of the three designs, they picked the one that resembled the traditional chulha, he said. Initially, only the trained women were asked to install the stove in their homes, which served as demonstration sites. They were paid by WTI, thus generating employment for them. The mud chimneys for the stoves also brought brisk business for the village potter. Those who wanted to install the chulha contacted these women who charged them an installation fee. The stoves were monitored for their efficiency by the WTI team. Data over the past few months shows an average reduction of about 40 percent in fuel wood consumption compared to the traditional stoves. Apart from the human disturbances, poaching continues to be the biggest threat to the animals in the park. A male rhino that had crossed into Valmiki Tiger Reserve from Nepal in March this year was found dead with its horn chopped off in the Valmiki Nagar forest range in May. Last year, a tigress was also found dead in Madanpur range. A small number of rhinos still live in the reserve's Valmiki forest range, where the grasslands provide them a perfect home. India made saving the tiger one of its top priorities. The government's latest tiger census report released in March this year put the tiger population at about 1,700, a slight improvement from the previous report in 2008, which estimated it to be around 1,400.

Tadoba Tiger Reserve evacuees allege lack of amenities

PTI | 08:12 PM,Dec 19,2011 Chandrapur (Maha), Dec 19 (PTI) Majority of the villagers evacuated from Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in the district are unhappy over new settlements allotted to them over alleged lack of amenities. Maharashtra government decided to relocate six villages, namely Kolsa, Botezari, Rantalodhi, Palasgaon, Jamni and Ramdegi, situated inside the tiger reserve, for which 550 hectares of forest land was allotted by the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM). However, only villagers from Botezari village agreed to the proposal and moved to the new settlement named as Bhagwanpur while a few from Kolsa also shifted to the new place. The villagers from Palasgaon refused to shift on the grounds that the new place offered to them was not suitable following which they were offered an alternate place at Salori in Warora tehsil of the district and the modalities for relocating them are being worked out, said Arun Tikhe, RFO, Waora Forest Range. However, only four our of 97 families at Kolsa have accepted the proposal to shift to Bhagwanpur. The state government is now paying Rs 10 lakh and an additional amount of Rs 50,000 as mobilisation charges to them. Meanwhile, the villagers at Bhagwanpur under the banner of 'Punarvasan Va Kalyankari Sanstha' have demanded setting up of a Primary Health Centre (PHC) with a permanent Medical Officer at the village, among other demands. The villagers also alleged that they were not given residence proofs by Gram Panchayat of Tolewahi under whose jurisdiction Bhagawanpur falls. The villagers even submitted a memorandum in this regard to Minister for Environment and Cultural Affairs Sanjay Deotale. They argued that life in the new settlement has become difficult for there is no scope for work or earning and the farm land allotted by the government has negligible yield in absence of irrigation facilities.
Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 20, 2011, 07.35AM IST NAGPUR: Taking a U-turn, the state forest department has decided not to push for dislodging National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) regional office situated on its premises in Ravi Nagar. Two blocks admeasuring 72 sq mt were given to the NTCA on orders from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who had also inaugurated the office along with former environment minister Jairam Ramesh on April 27. The NTCA is utilising only one block of 40 sq metres. On November 14, the principal chief conservator of forests for production & management had asked the NTCA to vacate the premises and make some alternative arrangement as the blocks were required by the department. On December 18, TOI had reported the matter. On Monday, Prakash Thosre, PCCF (P&M), said that whosoever has issued the letter to vacate the premises should be ignored. "The NTCA regional office in Nagpur is a matter of pride. I make it loud and clear that the office is here to stay. The forest department will not dislodge it till an alternative place is finalised," Thosre told TOI. Of the three new regional offices in India, Nagpur was first to be opened. It oversees 13 tiger reserves in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and provides necessary guidance in the field management.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tiger found dead in open well

TNN | Dec 19, 2011, 01.30AM IST CHANDRAPUR/NAGPUR: In yet another shock for wildlife buffs, a four-year-old tiger was found dead in an open well near Ratnapur village in Sindewahi forest on Sunday. This is the fifth tiger death in Maharashtra since January 2011, and third in Brahmapuri forest division adjoining Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). Sanjay Thavre, deputy conservator of forests (DyCF), Brahmapuri division, said it is suspected that the tiger accidentally fell into the well while chasing a prey. The carcass was first seen by farm owner Wasudeo Kohle 5.30pm on Sunday. He reported it to a forest guard, who in turn intimated his seniors. Sources claimed, staff sighted carcass of a wildcat floating along with tiger's carcass. The well doesn't have a parapet wall and is surrounded by thick shrubs. The incident exposes claims of officials of ordering all open wells to be covered. The operation to fish out carcass will be done on Monday. The carcass will be burned on the spot after autopsy, said NJ Waghade, assistant conservator of forests (ACF), Bramhapuri forest division.

Panna tiger triumph; relocated cat has cub

MONDAY, 19 DECEMBER 2011 00:16 MOUSHUMI BASU | NEW DELHI HITS: 130 A path-breaking experiment on tiger conservation involving breeding of a translocated tigress in captivity has seen its first success of rehabilitation of orphaned tiger cubs in the Panna Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh. A tigress (T4) was released in Panna in March as a part of the experiment. She had been hand-reared after being rescued at the age of three weeks from Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh. While adapting herself to the ways of the wild, she has recently given birth to cubs. Panna Reserve field director R Srinivasa Murthy said one cub had been seen so far by the research team, but there would be more, most likely. This development, according to experts, is a yardstick with which to gauge the experiment’s success. The reintroduction was carried out by the Madhya Pradesh forest department, with scientific inputs and intense monitoring by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). WII scientist Dr K Ramesh, who leads the post-release monitoring programme for tiger reintroduction, said, “It is a landmark development but should not set an automatic precedence for arbitrary release of cubs anywhere.” In a wider context, such a programme involves specific planning and lots of effort and should be followed with utmost precaution and scientific monitoring, he added. Ramesh further pointed out that the unique landscape of Panna - with adequate prey, cover and less human disturbance — certainly proved favourable for this experiment. Murthy, one of the main architects of the success story, said, “T4 has barely secured 50 to 60 per cent marks in her re-wilding examination and the final result depends on how she trains her cubs in hunting skills and survival lessons.” However, he added that she had earlier been found to be steadily acclimatising — mating, making and guarding kills and marking her territory. The tigress T4 was rescued by a research team of WII along with two other cubs way back in June 2005. These new born cubs aged about three weeks were found abandoned in Kanha Tiger Reserve after their mother was killed by a male tiger. They were hand reared in a small quarantine facility near Mukki Gate of Kanha till about 2.5 years old. After relocation of T4 on March 27, this year, the Reserve management constituted four exclusive teams for round-the-clock monitoring of the animal. WII looked into finer details of the animal behaviour and movement pattern. Initially, the tigress was also tracked from elephant back every alternative day for assessing health condition. The monitoring also included deployment of camera traps and collection of scat samples to understand associated factors. The experts are, however, divided on the issue. Pointing to the guidelines of IUCN and NTCA Protocol, they said that any “captive animal considered for reintroduction purposes need to approximate the wild counterparts”. According to a recent report on Rehabilitation of captive tigers, the major concern is that these animals often show a loss of natural behaviors associated with wild fitness, which is reflected in the deficiencies shown in hunting, social interactions, establishment of individual territory, mating behaviour and successfully raising cubs. Studies have also suggested that projects using captive-born animals are less likely to be successful than projects using wild-caught animals. Well-known cat specialist Dr. George Shaller agreed to the above apprehensions of the enormous risks involved in such cases, which may ultimately culminate into growing man-animal conflict. However, tiger experts as Dr. AJT Johnsingh said “in the face of declining tiger ranges and population, such experiments if conducted scientifically may open up new conservation strategies for the future.”

Tiger found dead in Nainital

PTI | 12:12 AM,Dec 18,2011 Rishikesh, Dec 17 (PTI) A tiger was today found dead near Bichauri range of Ramnagar forest area in Nainital district, forest officials said. The body of around ten-year-old tiger was found by forest personnel near Bichauri range, they said. It is suspected that the tiger was killed during a clash between two big cats, they said.

Stalled relocation of Kolsa in TATR begins

TNN | Dec 19, 2011, 01.27AM IST NAGPUR: In a major move, the state government has once again set in motion the stalled resettlement of villages in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). On Sunday, as a symbolic gesture, a cheque of Rs 25,000 each was handed over to four families from Kolsa by state environment minister Sanjay Deotale in Chandrapur. Principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi, field director VK Sinha, Harshwardhan and Poonam Dhanwatey of Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (TRACT), who will do hand-handling to expedite the relocation process, were also present. In 2007, 39 landless families of Kolsa and the entire Botezari village were resettled in Tolewahi in Mul tehsil. The remaining 97 families had refused to move out. The relocation of Kolsa village was stalled since then. It started afresh after the relocation package was enhanced to Rs 10 lakh per family by the Centre. After negotiations by TRACT, the 31 families agreed to move out. All opted for Option-I and will be paid Rs 10 lakh. In Option-I, four families were handed over a cheque of Rs 25,000 by Deotale. Of the balance amount, a fixed deposit (FD) of Rs 3 lakh for 5 years, and another FD of Rs 2 lakh for two years will be opened in the name of family head and wife. The balance amount will be deposited in savings account. The cut-off date has been extended to 2003 and more family members will add to the list. At another function, a cheque of Rs 47,000 was handed over to each family resettled in Tolewahi. Deotale promised to bring in all civic amenities which are missing in Tolewahi.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

50% families inside TATR opt for Rs 10L cash relief

TNN | Dec 17, 2011, 01.55AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Almost 50% of the families living in two villages inside Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) set for relocation have opted for a cash compensation of Rs 10 lakh instead of seeking rehabilitation benefits. The rehabilitation process of village Navegaon (Ramdegi) and Jamni inside TATR has begun and the work on felling and land levelling is underway at the sites selected for relocation. With the high court setting a deadline of one year for relocation, the government machinery has expedited process in the second phase of rehabilitation. Navegaon village will be rehabilitated in compartment number 29 in Chimur forest range near village Khadsangi while Jamni village in number 42 of Chimur range near Dablapur. Villagers themselves have selected both the sites for rehabilitation. Authorities have identified 240 beneficiary families in Navegaon and 222 families in Jamni for rehabilitation. The government has put two options before the beneficiaries under Rs 10 lakh compensation package for rehabilitation. In the first case, the beneficiary takes the entire compensation amount denying rehabilitation. However, the administration will ensure that such beneficiaries aptly utilize the compensation amount. In the second case, the sum will be deposited with the administration and it will arrange for all residential and farming facilities at the rehabilitation site. CCF and field director of TATR Vinaykumar Sinha said, "129 families, including 110 landowners and 19 landless families in Navegaon (Ramdegi), have opted for seeking cash benefits. Similarly, 107 families, including 88 landowner and 19 landless families in Jamni, have decided to go for a cash benefit of Rs 10 lakh under the rehabilitation package." The remaining 111 families in Navegaon and 115 families in Jamni have agreed to avail rehabilitation benefits, he added. Meanwhile, the land record office in Chimur has completed the measurement of relocation site of both the villages. The town planning department has prepared gaothan map of the rehabilitation site of Navegaon village. The process of preparing gaothan map for relocation site of Jamni is underway. The work on tree felling and levelling of land at Navegaon site is in progress. At Jamni site, it is stalled due to lack of labourers, officials said. District collector Vijay Waghmare reviewed the progress of rehabilitation work in the meeting held on Wednesday. He said that the administration is hard-pressed to complete the work early following the high court directives. Better offer TATR had a total of six villages including Botezari, Kolsa, Navegaon (Ramdegi), Jamni, Rantalodhi and Kolsa inside the core area. Earlier in first phase of rehabilitation, entire Botezari village and part of Kolsa village was rehabilitated out of TATR at the site now known as Bhagwanpur in Mul forest range four years back. However, over 90 families of Kolsa had refused to move at the last moment citing lack of amenities at the rehabilitation site. The first phase of rehabilitation was carried out under the Rs 1 lakh rehabilitation package. However, to pursue the remaining villagers of Kolsa inside TATR, the government offered Rs 10 lakh rehabilitation package. TATR authorities and NGOs are negotiating and pursuing Kolsa villagers to move out of the tiger reserve.

Tiger wounded in fight with wild animals

PTI | 03:12 PM,Dec 16,2011 Udhagamandalam,Dec 16 (PTI) A 14-year-old male tiger, believed to have been injured during a fight with wild animals, is being treated at the Elephant camp near here, forest department officials said today. The wounded tiger was noticed by some villagers near Bokkapuram in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. Three veterinarians staying at the Elephant camp in Theppakkadu brought the animal to the camp. The tiger's condition is normal now, forest department sources said.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Phase IV of tiger census to be 45-days long

Mazhar Ali, TNN | Dec 16, 2011 CHANDRAPUR: Authorities of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) have geared up to carry out phase IV of its tiger monitoring, an extended programme of three earlier phases of tiger estimation exercise, in January and February next year. However, compared earlier phases, it would be an extensive exercise lasting for 45 days, covering tiger reserve, buffer zone and tiger pockets in regular forest areas in Chandrapur circle. Funded by NTCA, phase IV would be carried out in the areas of tiger presence under the supervision of chief wildlife warden. This annual exercise would help to re-ascertain the number of tigers in the reserve and areas around it, their breeding and dispersal pattern. Phase IV monitoring will include eight days of protocol documentation of sign survey, followed by extensive capture-recapture exercise with the help of camera traps and line transact assessment to ascertain the tiger population. "It is 45 days long extensive monitoring programme to access of tiger population. A least three pairs of camera traps would be placed in each beat of forest area. The presence of tigers in particular area will be established by capturing images and it would be verified by recapturing the same tiger's images in camera trap during the exercise," said CCF, TATR, Vinay Sinha. He explained that distance method would be used in transact line assessment and new lines would be made in the areas being freshly accessed for wildlife population. "Phase IV tiger monitoring would be carried out in tiger reserves, its buffer areas and tiger pockets falling in the regular forest areas around tiger reserve. NGO activist would be involved in the monitoring exercise during line transact assessment," he said. He claimed their draft plan and modality for phase IV is ready and they intended to execute monitoring exercise in January and February next years. He however did not give the exact dates of execution of the programme. Sinha claimed that a training programme at officer level has been organized at Panna tiger reserve on December 28 and 29. Officers up to RFO level would be guided in this training programme and they would in turn train the staffers under them at local level for the phase IV tiger monitoring exercise.

Three tiger cubs dead in two days, toll 17

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times Dehradun, December 16, 2011 Three tiger cubs have died in different parts of Uttarakhand in the last two days, taking the death toll so far this year to 17 — up from the seven recorded last year. Alarmed wildlife authorities have sought immediate submission of postmortem reports to shore up conservation plans. On Tuesday, the bodies of a male and a female cub were found in Kilpura range of Terai east forest division. Another female cub was found dead in Dhela range of Corbett Tiger Reserve on Wednesday night. According to forest department officials, the cubs might have been separated from their mothers and succumbed to the cold conditions. But officials are not ruling out any possibilities.   Uttarakhand chief wildlife warden SS Sharma said, "I have asked forest officials to submit the postmortem report to me at the earliest. After analysing the reasons for these deaths, I will be in a better position to frame a plan of action for conservation." Earlier this month, HT had reported the rise in tiger deaths in the state.  Rajendra Agarwal, state head of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, said, "It’s surprising that within two days, three tiger cubs have died… If it continues, we could face an alarming situation."

'Power plants will choke Vidarbha development'

Aparna Nair, TNN | Dec 16, 2011, 12.50AM IST NAGPUR: Tiger mascots were prominently displayed as green organisations came together on Thursday to protest the large number of thermal power plants coming up in Vidarbha that would further degrade the environment of the region. Their main demand included the cancelling permissions to 49 power plants slated to come up in Vidarbha. "What is the need of these when we are already self-sufficient in power and exporting energy," asked R B Goenka, convenor Vidarbha Environment Action Group (VEAG). He said that such a large number of thermal plants would affect environment drastically. "The water table will further lower. Water and air pollution will rise drastically. In satellite images you cannot see vegetation in 10 km radius of power plants because of harmful effects," he said. Greenpeace also supported this agitation held near Hislop College through its Junglistan campaign. "Forest around Tadoba are already degrading due to the opencast mines and the power plants. We are questioning the ministry on the need of so many plants in a small region," said Preethi Herman, campaigner, Greenpeace. These power plants may prove to be the doom for Nagpur's development. Paramjit Ahuja, founder member, VEAG said, "In future, each country will have limits on carbon emission. Thus, every region will have its quota. Because of the large number of thermal power plants in the area, the carbon emissions will already be high, prompting the government to stop industrialization in the region." Sudhir Paliwal of VEAG said that the expansion of the Koradi power plant is another matter of concern. "Coal in our country is radioactive and contains heavy metals like mercury. So even after burning, the contamination remains in the ash which is not disposed of properly. Government needs to be conscious about the radioactivity and finalise its acceptable level in coal," he said. Clearly Vidarbha is being made sacrificial goat for other region's development. "These plants are not even going to generate much employment. Parts of the Nagpur metro regions are being demanded for mining. Then how is the city going to be developed," asks Pradeep Behere, president, Srushti Paryavaran Mandal. Vrushali Shrirang of Green Vigil said that quest for sustainable development was the need and resources should be used to meet demand and not to produce surplus. Alternative actions possible The activists said that they were not against development. In order to meet power demands, they suggested alternative ways that would have lower environmental impact and would not be biased against some region's interests. 1. Power plants should be set up where there is requirement of power or near places having coal reserves 2. Go in for 100 MW plants that use air cooling. Thus water used for cooling could be saved 3. Set up underground transmission cables 4. Set up infrastructure corridors

Thursday, December 15, 2011

50-yr-old man killed by tiger

TNN | Dec 14, 2011, 10.27PM IST BAHRAICH: A 50-year-old man was killed when he was attacked by a tiger at Bagulahia farm in Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary here on Wednesday. Divisonal Forest Officer (DFO) Wildlife RK Singh told that the Mahant Yadav went to the forest area on Tuesday to get some fodder when he was attacked by the animal, they said adding he died instantly. According to figures provided by the DFO, 12 people have been killed in attacks by leopards and tigers in the region. 65 people have been killed and 95 were injured in the incidents of leopard and tiger attacks in the villages around Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary in three years. There are 9 forest gram sabhas and 21 gram sabhas under the Katarniaghat forest where the movement of the leopards and tigers are frequently seen. The leopards and tigers enter these villages quite often in the search of food and water where they not only make prey to the cattles of the villagers but the villagers also fall prey to them occassionally. The recent incident which occurred at Ameersingh purwa of Karikot where a leopard attacked on a four years old girl and ate it alive. This incident has not only created terror in the forest areas but also in the whole district. The workplans were chalked out many at times in order to secure the gram sabhas of around the forests but they were never implemented. Recently the district magistrate (DM)Bahraich pinky jowel held the meeting with the villagers, he had assured them that every possible effort would be made to protect the villagers. For this he had also ordered to prepare a workplan for constructing a ditch around the villages and planting the thorny bushes in it. The work was to be executed by MNREGA. What to mention of executing the work, even the workplan could not be approved. However the entry of the wild animals in the villages has gone up and many persons lost their life.

Manas Tiger Reserve set to regain past glory-PTI

Manas: Battered by militant activities in the early nineties resulting in its listing as a world heritage site in danger, the picturesque Manas tiger reserve is all set to regain its pristine glory, thanks to astute forest and infrastructure management. Conservation initiatives are going in the right direction and the park is all set to attract animal lovers and tourist as it had done two decades back, says Field Director, Anindya Swargiary. The park recently organised a function called "Logistic support for Manas Tiger reserve" that was held in association with WWF where the WWF officials handed over various vital logistic items to the park authorities. Acknowledging that militant activities had taken the park hundred years back in terms of management system, the park director said serious effort was make to bring it back to order. Although the park was one of the biggest tiger reserves in the country, its unique location offers a difference than other parks. Expressing the hope that tiger population had increased, Swargiary said recently nine big cats were traced during a survey by the Wildlife Institute of India while a fresh survey is underway. Alongwith forest officials, several organisations and NGOs are working in tandem to develop and preserve the park in a coherent manner, he said. The field director felt that as the park shares an international boundary with neighbouring Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, coordination with that country's forest authroties was necessary. Infact only the Manas river running through the park is the boundary line with the otherside known as Royal Bhutan tiger reserve. A meeting between forest officials of the two countries was held recently to bring about coordination in the effort to protect forest and wildlife, says Swargiary. Urging Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the administrators of the area, to sanction more fund, the forest official said a detailed report will be finalised soon outlining all aspects of preservation. Council head of the department of NTC, G C Basumatary says recognition by the world community in bringing back the world heritage site status to Manas was possible due to untiring efforts of the authorities. During the event, Dipankar Ghosh, programme coordinator of WWF stressed on the need to raise the profile of Manas in national and international levels. Assuring all effort from WWF side to help revive the park, Ghosh congratulated the forest authorities for helping the park to develop. Giving a detail account of the activities in the park, BTC deputy chief Khampha Borgoyary says a probe committee has been set up after skeleton of a Rhino which was translocated from the Pabitora wildlife sanctuary was found inside the park. During the event, eight motorcycles, 20 binoculars, 500 mosquito nets, 1000 shoes, 500 jackets and caps, 500 sweaters, 60 torches and 10 charge lights were handed over to the forest staff. Swargiary says plans are on the anvil to develop accomodation and travelling facilities for the tourists to the park. Admitting that of late the park had very few visitors due to lack of transport facilities, the park director says an amibitous plan is being made by the BTC to easy acess to the visitors to the park and their comfortable stay. Meanwhile, local villagers who are living in the fringe of the park are being educated and made aware of the need to protect the environment and wildlife.

Controversy over killing of tiger in KNP continues

 BOKAKHAT, Dec 14 – The resentment over the killing of a Royal Bengal tiger at Bochagaon by police constables on December 5 took a new turn with NGOs, police and Forest department differing on the matter. It may be mentioned that the Royal Bengal tiger had created panic in the fringe villages of the Kaziranga National Park since the last two weeks as a result of which the persons had to suffer losses. Later, the tiger was reportedly killed by police constables in self-defence and to protect the life and property of the villagers. After going through the proper investigation and post mortem by concerned Forest official and Veterinary doctors the carcass of the tiger was burnt. Meanwhile, the Kaziranga National Park and the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India have launched an inquiry into the incident. Local people lodged complaints that the Kaziranga Park authorities had been informed about the panic created by the tiger for the last 15 days but the Forest department did not take any positive steps due to which the unwanted situation took place. On the other hand, local people including leading citizens and dignitaries of different socio-cultural organisations of Kaziranga and Bokakhat have expressed strong resentment over the news published in some newspapers acusing the villagers as the killers of the Royal Bengal tiger in the park area. They clarified in a press meet that neither the police nor the local people intentionally killed the tiger but only under compulsion. Hema Borah, president of the Four-Lane Demand Committee, spoke against the Government decision for not connecting Bokakhat and Jakhalabandha with the Four-lane plea. Addressing the mediapersons, most of the dignaitaries representing their organisations vehemently opposed the decision of the Government for declaring KNP as another project Tiger site. Dipak Hazarika, joint secretary of AJYCP’s central committee, Bitupan Saikia, secretary of Bokakhat subdivisional unit of AASU, Lila Tamuli, president of Kaziranga Sports Association, Nagen Saikia of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Deva Pratim Borah of Four-Lane Demand Committee and Tulshi Bordoloi of Kaziranga Jeep Safari Union addressed the meet and appealed to the media to write in the greater interest of the Kaziranga area, highlighting the major problem and facts. Nilu Acharjee, Swapan Nath and Achyut Hazarika from among the scribes presented short speeches in response to the situation.

Political posturing, encroachments are eating into Mhadei's tiger territory Paul Fernandes, Rajendra P Kerkar & Murari Shetye, TNN

Caranzol: The issue of settlements and encroachments within the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary and its fringes, coupled with political posturing, is slowly eating into tiger territory. In 1999, the official appointed to hear stakeholders affected by the sanctuary's notification received a total of 117 claims from residents of villages falling within the sanctuary. A few years later, figures provided in the North Goa working plan indicated encroachments of around 1,539.71 ha in 21 villages under the Valpoi range and four villages under the Keri range of the sanctuary. "Though there are no proper records regarding encroachments, the satellite imagery (with 1999 as cut-off) can be used to determine fresh incursions within the sanctuary's limits," a government official said. On June 3, 1999, the government notified 44 sq km of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary's 208 sq km area under Section 26A of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. This area had been earlier declared a reserve forest and was clear of encumbrances. The remainder 164 sq km was notified under Section 18 of the same Act as it included encroachments. "Notifying the area under this mode meant the claims of those interested in the land could be heard," an official explained. P V Savant was appointed as the revenue officer and collector for the sanctuary and was directed to hear claims of aggrieved stakeholders. He received 10 claims, including eight from individual families, two separately from a group of 96 villagers from Zarme and 13 from Thane-Dongurli and Ivrem-Buzuruco of Thane Dongurli panchayat, staking claim to forest lands. In their deposition, the claimants stated they had developed and brought specific areas in forest land under cashew plantation. They were in possession of the land for two to four decades and sustained their families on cashew and other produce, they informed Savant. Some prayed that they should be granted occupancy right as per the land revenue code and rules, even though they could not produce documentary evidence. The form I & XIV they produced to support their cases indicated that they were classified encroachers on government land. Savant observed, among other remarks, that the state should review the proposal of including Zarme and Ivrem-Buzuruco in the sanctuary as lots of land was occupied by encroachers. The government had, incidentally, granted occupancy rights to 104 persons during 1983, 1984 and 1985. Of these, 99 cases are in the sanctuary. The extent of area granted under occupancy rights varies from 850 sq m to 1,5250 sq m. While the government has granted rights to some farmers, a process of regularization is still in progress by the revenue department, say sources. As per records, sanads (occupancy rights) were issued in 42 cases prior to 1980 in Ivrem Buzuruco. While survey numbers were mentioned in the sanads in respect of one person in two cases, none were mentioned in the other 40 cases. Savant had noted in an order: "...considering the ground reality of large areas of proposed sanctuary under cashew plantations the state is advised to review the sanctuary proposal." He further urged the government to prevent further encroachments by demarcating old and new encroachments. But forest officials say that doing this will change the boundaries of the sanctuary. The government subsequently appointed a committee headed by Hemant Karapurkar to examine the rationale for de-notification of the two sanctuaries (Neturlim wildlife sanctuary in Sanguem had been notified along with Mhadei). The Karapurkar committee had stated in its report that 1,826 families are affected by the proposal in Mhadei. "However, the committee did not provide either the list of the persons or the survey numbers of those claiming to be affected," alleges Claude Alvares, director, NGO Goa Foundation. Forest minister Felipe Neri Rodrigues was not available for comment, while additional principal conservator of forests Shashi Kumar avoided any discussion on the issue. The government's indecision is only aggravating the problem, forest officials and greens both agree. A forest official conceded, "It is not helping the cause of the tiger nor the people in keeping the issue burning." Environmentalists suggest that the government has to decide the issue of encroachments within the sanctuary. Fixing a cut-off period to draw a line between old and new encroachments is advisable, they say. "The government has to approach the Supreme Court and seek its advice on the matter," says Talulah D'Silva of Mission Green, Goa. This NGO had initiated an e-petition with an appeal to declare the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve and a second one, seeking local support for it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two tiger cubs found dead

PTI | 09:12 PM,Dec 13,2011 Rishikesh, Dec 13 [PTI] Two tiger cubs were today found dead in Kilpuri range of the Terai East forest division in Haldwani area of Nainital district in Uttarakhand, forest officials said. A postmortem of the tiger cubs, one male and another female, is being conducted, they said. Both the cubs were one and half year old and were apparently siblings, Chief Wildlife Warden S S Sharma said. Meanwhile, honorary Corbett Wildlife warden Bijendra Singh asked the authorities to take proper care of the elusive tigers.

Greens highlight mining threat near Tadoba

Mazhar Ali, TNN | Dec 14, 2011, 04.58AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Conservationists and wildlife activists in Chandrapur have joined hands to protect forest from the threat posed by large scale mining around Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. In the backdrop of fact-finding report prepared by NGO Greenpeace India on deterioration of tiger corridors of TATR due to extensive mining, massive awareness campaign was launched by group of NGOs in the town. Half a dozen tiger mascots accompanied by hundreds of students marched along the streets on Monday carrying placards about saving tiger and conserving forests. Students even painted their faces in stripped pattern of tigers to convey strong massage for protection of forest and tigers. Wildlife activists connected to Green Planet Society, Eco-Pro organization, Wildlife Protection Society of India and campaigner, Greenpeace India, Preeti Harman joined the awareness rally. Harman said, "A total of 2,058 hectares of forest land has been given for mining in Chandrapur since year 2000. Even as coal block allocation to Adani mine in Lohara forest has been canceled after strong protest, the threat of the same block being allotted to others looms large. The wildlife corridors connected Tadoba forests with Chaprala, Indravati, Bor, Navegaon, Kanha and Melghat have been cut off due to growing mines. TATR has turned into a island of tigers from where they have not route left to move to the adjoining habitats."She warned that allocation of more coal blocks around Tadoba is in the offing, as coal ministry has plans to allocate mining blocks even in no-go zones. She claimed that deterioration of forest corridors is one other reason for rise in wild man-animal conflict in Chandrapur district. She alleged the government of not being serious towards protection of forests and demanded for formulation of concrete wildlife policy. She informed that fact finding report 'Undermining Tadoba's Tiger' prepared by Greenpeace was recently released in Delhi and copy of the same was submitted to forest and environment minister and coal minister. Bandu Dhotre of Eco-Pro pointed out that mining in Durgapur and Padmapur coal mines, mining projects in Chichpalli, expansion projects of Durgapur and Padmapur, coal blocks in Lohara and Agarzari pose threat to corridors leading southwards of Tadoba. Similarly Murpar mine, proposed mines in Bandar, Surmanjiri, Bhansuli, Bhagwanpur, Nand-I and Nand-II and expansion Murpar mine threatens the northward corridor of Tadoba. The proposed Human dam project and Gosikhurd right bank canal threatens to block entire the North-East corridor leading out of Tadoba forest, he warned. Suresh Chopne, president of Green Planet Society, said that they intend to raise strong opposition to proposed mines around the TATR. "We will try to get support of politicians and forest department."for sake of tigers and forests. We are ready to take to roads to protest against the mines and even knock the doors of court of law if situation demands," he said.

Tribals protest eviction move

TNN | Dec 14, 2011, 04.58AM IST ADILABAD: Tribals under the aegis of various Adivasi organisations took out a huge rally in Jannaram mandal headquarters in protest against the government proposal to develop Kawal wildlife sanctuary as a Tiger reserve forest by evicting adivasis dwelling there for a long time. The Tribals gathered in huge numbers in the mandal headquarters and raised slogans against the government decision to evict them from their native habitations. They threatened to intensify their agitation if the government failed to withdraw its proposal. The adivasi leaders blamed the district administration for declaring Kawal wildlife sanctuary as a second tiger reserve in the state and the 41th in the country without taking the opinion of adivasis residing in the sanctuary into consideration. They said tribals would not survive if they are evacuated from forests, as they would face a livelihood problem and lose their constitutional safeguards. Adivasis do not have pattas for the forest land they have been cultivating for a long time in the sanctuary, they said and added that if they are evacuated, they will not get compensation for their land. If the place of rehabilitation is in a non-scheduled area, Adivasis will lose their constitutional rights under Schedule V, they said.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tiger kills man

PTI | 03:12 PM,Dec 12,2011 Bahraich (UP), Dec 12 (PTI) A 50-year-old man was killed when he was attacked by a tiger at Bagulahia farm in Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary here, officials said today. Mahant Yadav went to the forest area yesterday to get some fodder when he was attacked by the animal, they said adding he died instantly. According to figures provided by the Forest department, 12 people have been killed in attacks by leopards and tigers in the region. PTI CORR ABN SG

‘Rajaji National Park should be made a tiger park'

SUNDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2011 22:45 PARITOSH KIMOTHI | DEHRADUN HITS: 105 The Rajaji National Park should be made a tiger park considering the rising big cat population and the fact that a thriving prey base and healthy environment makes it an ideal habitat for both predators and herbivores. The World Bank programme director for the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), Keshav Varma said this while talking to The Pioneer on the sidelines of the international conference on eco-engineering for connecting wildlife corridors. Though the Corbett National Park is famous for its high density of tiger population, the population of big cats has also been rising in Rajaji which is known for elephants. According to Varma, the tiger population in Rajaji has increased from about 3.2 per 100 sq km to 6 per 100 sq km. In addition to tigers, there are more than 200 leopards in this national park which is due to the rich prey base here. “There are 72 ungulate species per sq km in Rajaji which can sustain a healthy population of predators. The tiger is also a politically important animal in India so it is easier to elicit focus and efforts for tiger conservation, which in turn will benefit all wildlife. The biotic pressure faced here will increase further in the future considering which it is important to make Rajaji a tiger park”, stressed Varma. He further said that the GTI could talk to the National Tiger Conservation Authority in this regard and also assist in facilitation of capacity building and training if the national park is made a tiger park. Focus on this issue will also facilitate the movement of tigers and elephants between Corbett and Rajaji, he added.

Magisterial probe ordered into Bandhavgarh row

TNN | Dec 13, 2011, 05.29AM IST BHOPAL: A magisterial inquiry has been ordered on Monday into the causes of commotion at the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Umaria two days ago during a religious gathering. The park field director has been booked on criminal charges and for allegedly hurting the sentiments of dalits. Additional district magistrate Ashkrit Tiwari told The TOI that Manpur area sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Mangal Singh Marabi has been entrusted with the probe and he has been asked to complete the inquiry within a month. A case has been registered against field director C K Patil on the charge of obscene acts, disturbing religious gathering and defamation and relevant sections of scheduled castes and tribes (prevention of atrocities) act 1989 on the complaint of former MP Public Works Department Minister Babulal Malviya, police said. "We are investigating the matter. Arrest of Patil is possible only after a detailed probe, superintendent of police Manohar Singh Jhamara said. According to complaint lodged with Police, Patil allegedly misbehaved with Kabir Panthi sect's renowned Seer Prakash Muni Naam Saheb and made casteist remarks against him on December 10. The seer was the state guest and had come to take part in the religious programme of faithfuls at Bandhavgarh where there is a "Kabir cave" near a fort. Patil asked the members of the congregation not to photograph the area and also avoid using the pond in the reserve. After the field director had a spat with Kabir Panth Seer, more than 14,000 faithful lost their cool but swift action by police and revenue officials calmed their tempers. On behalf of Patil, the officials reportedly apologized to the member of Kabir sect so as to ensure no untoward incident take place. When contacted over phone, Patil denied having misbehaved or passed any caste based remarks. "I only requested the seer to descend from the fort on the hilltop so that his 7000-odd disciples follow him before 5 pm," he added. He said that timing for them to be inside the park was upto 5 pm. "I made the request around 2.30 pm", he added.

Who is to be blamed for the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary not being declared a tiger reserve?

TNN | Dec 12, 2011, 05.42AM IST PANAJI: The Goa government is to be blamed for not taking necessary and timely steps for declaring the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve. The forest department for more than a decade has failed miserably in generating awareness to garner support for transforming this tiger habitat, known for the rich and varied biodiversity, into the Mhadei tiger reserve. The proposed tiger reserve will not only protect the big cat but will help in safeguarding the water resources for posterity in our land. It is some one with a mining interest that is trying to stop the department from declaring the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary it as a tiger reserve. They want to convert the place into a mining area. I have been to Vagheri for a trek and have taken photos of tiger pugmarks. Obviously, the state government and the forest department must be blamed for the Mhadei sanctuary not being declared as a tiger reserve in Goa. The present politicians are mining tycoons and sick politicians. The known fact is that maximum number of tigers are in Mhadei area and everybody knows it. However its surprising that the government is still unaware about the fact. I am all for declaring the Mhadei sanctuary as a tiger reserve. It is our duty to protect the tigers to prevent their extinction. The mining lobby is probably influencing the delay in declaring the sanctuary as a tiger reserve. Fr Alfred Vaz director, Diocesan catechetical centre, Old Goa

Rs 3.59Cr central aid for Bihar Tiger Reserve

The only tiger reserve of the state would be developed as tourists’ spot with this central funding Submitted on 12/12/2011 - 12:13:27 PM Patna: The Bihar government has chalked out a detailed plan to develop Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve (VTR) in West Champaran district. Tourism Minister Sunil Kumar Pintoo said the central government has sanctioned Rs 3.59 crore for the development of the VTR, the only tiger reserve in the state. The first installment was received by the state government recently. The Minister said the Building Construction Department has been entrusted the task of sanitation, landscaping, approach road, signage, electric work and wall. The VTR would be developed in such a manner that it would attract a large number of tourists not only from the country but also from the globe. As per the plan, a mini auditorium and illustrated museum would be constructed at an estimated const of Rs 45 lakh. Twelve-room tourist lounge would be renovated at a cost of Rs 23 lakh. In addition, an amount of Rs 13.70 lakh would be used for construction of bridges and roads. In a view to increase the number of animals, grass land management would be developed as per the eco tourism.

Reconstitution of NTCA

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been reconstituted vide Notification No. 15-25/09NTCA dated 4th September, 2009, since the term of the said Authority as constituted earlier expired on 3.9.2009. The Powers and Functions of the National Tiger Conservation Authority are provided under section 38O (1) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as indicated at Annexure-I. The composition of the reconstituted National Tiger Conservation Authority is at Annexure-II. There are 40 tiger reserves in the country which come under the purview of the said Authority. As per the findings of the recent All India tiger estimation in 2010 using the refined methodology, the total country-level population of tiger is 1706 (mid value); the lower and upper limits being 1520 and 1909 respectively. The State-wise tiger population and area of tiger occupied landscapes are indicated in Annexure-III.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Who is to be blamed for the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary not being declared a tiger reserve?

TNN | Dec 12, 2011, 05.42AM IST PANAJI: The Goa government is to be blamed for not taking necessary and timely steps for declaring the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve. The forest department for more than a decade has failed miserably in generating awareness to garner support for transforming this tiger habitat, known for the rich and varied biodiversity, into the Mhadei tiger reserve. The proposed tiger reserve will not only protect the big cat but will help in safeguarding the water resources for posterity in our land. Priyavanda Parab human resources executive, Aravale-Sanquelim It is some one with a mining interest that is trying to stop the department from declaring the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary it as a tiger reserve. They want to convert the place into a mining area. I have been to Vagheri for a trek and have taken photos of tiger pugmarks. Anand Masur associate professor, Margao Obviously, the state government and the forest department must be blamed for the Mhadei sanctuary not being declared as a tiger reserve in Goa. The present politicians are mining tycoons and sick politicians. The known fact is that maximum number of tigers are in Mhadei area and everybody knows it. However its surprising that the government is still unaware about the fact. Swapnil Sabnis engineer, Sanquelim I am all for declaring the Mhadei sanctuary as a tiger reserve. It is our duty to protect the tigers to prevent their extinction. The mining lobby is probably influencing the delay in declaring the sanctuary as a tiger reserve.

Pench's anti-poaching squad defunct since two years

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 12, 2011, 03.30AM IST NAGPUR: The anti-poaching squad attached to the Pench Tiger Reserve seems to have virtually been poached! The squad is allegedly non-functional for the past over two years with its in charge-officer handling dual charges. With the anti-poaching squad becoming defunct, illegal fishing in Totladoh reservoir inside the tiger reserve has increased. On November 29, 13 villagers from Fulzari were arrested for poisoning Pench waters for getting better fish yield. However, A Ashraf, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Pench, denies that the squad has become defunct. As per the Supreme Court orders, fishing in Pench tiger reserve is prohibited. Yet, it continues rampantly. The fishermen, residing on the periphery of Pench reserve, enter the reservoir in the evening and are involved in fishing throughout the night. Huge cache of fish is shifted outside the reserve early morning and despatched to Nagpur in private vehicles. Sporadic action by the officials has failed to deter fishermen, for whom fishing is the only source of easy livelihood. The squad comprises one range forest officer (RFO) and two forest guards. RFO KG Patil, who heads the squad, is in additional charge of East Pench range since April 20, 2009 after S T Londhe was shifted to Kuhi. Since then Patil is holding dual charge of a range as well as the squad. The two guards with the anti-poaching squad sit idle at Nagpur office. Ashraf admits that a squad of three is too meagre to take on many fishermen. "Yet, we do patrolling in the wee hours, a fact which cannot be noticed by the outsiders. You have to see it to believe it. As the RFO concerned stays at Pench, it helps to control fishing," he says. However, the fact remains that there is no action against the culprits by the anti-poaching squad. The patrolling boats at Pench are lying idle and fishing is going on right under the nose of the squad - even near the dam wall where the squad is posted. The fishing activity has caused lot of disturbance in the park affecting wildlife. The issue calls for a proper posting policy. The new incumbent, A D Kulkarni from Beed district, who has been posted to East Pench in August, is left with just 16 months to retire. He is on leave due to family problems but is expected to join on December 18.