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Monday, October 17, 2011

Stone-crushing units destroying tiger habitat

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

Yearly tiger census in Sunderbans on the cards

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

Saranda springs tiger surprise

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

Fisherman killed by tiger in Sunderbans ANANYA DUTTA

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

Forest dept may lose services of tiger vets Lemuel Lall

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