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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stop tourism in core tiger areas: Govt to SC

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times A jeep ride to have a glimpse of a tiger deep inside Corbett or Ranthambore or Kanha tiger reserves may become history if the Supreme Court accepts the government’s argument that tourism needs to be shifted out of the core areas to fringe and buffer zones to protect the big cat from adverse impact of human interference. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has said that “core critical tiger habitats” have to be kept inviolate and only management interventions can be allowed by the state governments in the said area. “In such areas if tourism activity are taking place, they are required to be phased out in the fringe/buffer zones,” the NTCA, the statutory body mandated to provide safe habitat to 1,706 tigers in 40 tiger reserves, has told the court. The NTCA has declared core areas as “inviolate” from any human interference. In most of the tiger reserves, tourists are allowed inside the core tiger critical areas without adequate regulation, creating nuisance for tigers. A recent Wildlife Institute of India report had said that most of 1,706 tigers were in the core areas that are the best habitat for big cats to survive, if human intervention can be minimised. “Human living in tiger reserves pose the biggest danger not the tourism,” said Belinda Wright of Wildlife Protection Society of India, who owns a lodge in Kanha tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh, at a press conference organized by Travel Operators for Tigers before the hearing in the case on Wednesday. At least two tigers have been killed by vehicles used by tourists in Bandhavgarh tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh in the last few years. Prerna Singh Bindra, wildlife conservationist said in her report on Corbett that the tourism inside the core tiger area was unsustainable and lodges have blocked the corridor used by tigers to move from the park to Ramnagar forest division and vice-versa. Lodges have been constructed in the buffer zone of Ramthambore tiger reserve and Periyar tiger reserve in Kerala. The travel operators brought a tribal, Sansai Baigai from Kanha, to claim that they have financially benefited from tiger tourism even though the operators had opposed settlement of their traditional rights in tiger reserves. “I am not in favour of Forest Rights Act in protected areas,” Wright said, while the operators failed to inform about the revenue shared by them with the local communities. NTCA’s affidavit quotes Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 to say that core areas in protected areas have to be kept inviolate for purpose of tiger conservation without affecting the rights of tribals or forest dwellers. The world “inviolate” means without any disturbance by human beings and each tiger reserve should have inviolate space of 800-1,200 sq kms for a viable population. The tour operators claimed the NTCA decision, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will harm the tigers than benefiting them.

Tigers poached in connivance with forst staff at Panna: Government report

TNN | Nov 9, 2011, 03.58AM IST In a detailed investigation, carried out by the field director, who is in-charge of Panna Tiger Reserve, it emerged that forest staff on occasions were involved in destroying evidence of poaching. NEW DELHI: Tigers in Madhya Pradesh's Panna Tiger Reserve were poached in connivance with forest officials, an internal state government report has admitted. But the state government, despite repeated requests from the Union environment and forests ministry, has refused to constitute a CBI probe as was done in the wipe-out of the elusive wild cats in Rajasthan's Sariska Tiger Reserve. The report submitted in January to the state government - a scathing indictment of the forest department for hiding facts and acting in collusion with poaching networks - came to light, thanks to an application by Madhya Pradesh-based RTI activist Ajay Dubey. In a detailed investigation, carried out by the field director, who is in-charge of Panna Tiger Reserve, it emerged that forest staff on occasions were involved in destroying evidence of poaching. In one case, forest officers, the field director said, took a bribe to suppress evidence of poaching. He has demanded a thorough investigation into forest officials working in cahoots with poaching gangs that operate in Panna. The officer notes that there are sufficient evidence to show active involvement of staff in poaching, and also in destroying of evidence in some cases. The report notes that at least once the ``mighty feudal structure played its part in manipulating" the case. To make matters worse, when well-connected people were caught poaching, they were let off by senior forest officials. The current field director has recommended that forest officials - starting from forest guards to his predecessor- be interrogated. "The area is infested with heavy poaching. With staff's omissions and commissions the crime nexus is complete from the scene of crime to New Delhi," he records. The local population has no sympathy left for tigers or the reserve because the creation of the park has hit them hard, the official says and warns that no park can survive without empathy from them.

Tiger kills pregnant cow in Kodagu district

Express News Service , The New Indian Express MADIKERI: The tiger menace in the district surfaced again when a pregnant cow was hunted in Kongeri on Monday. The tiger dragged the carcass of the cow for over 10 m and ate almost 10 kg of meat, it is said. As per the instructions of Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah, Chief Wildlife Warden and principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) B K Singh arrived at the spot� on Monday evening to receive information about the tiger menace. Sources in the Forest Department said that a decision may be taken to shoot the tiger at sight as it may attack human beings too, under Section 11(A) of the Wildlife Act. But killing the tiger will be the last resort. An expert shooter from Hassan, medicine shooter from Mysore zoo and other doctors will assist the team to catch the tiger. The fact that the tiger also came to one of the cages set up, touched the goat inside it but did not harm it has surprised officials.

Bandhavgarh tiger park faces fund crunch, staff shortage

PTI Nov 7, 2011, 03.00PM IST BANDHAVGARH (MP): Shortage of more than 100 trained foresters coupled with fund crunch to shift about a dozen villages from the core area of Bandhavgarh National Park, which has the highest density of tigers, are posing a grave problem for its authorities. "There is a need for minimum 240 staff including forest guards, range officers and foresters here to properly maintain the reserve park but we have only about 100 staff to do the job," CK Patil, field director of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, said. Situated in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, the core area of the park is spread over 716 sq km. According to the latest census, there are 59 tigers in the park, an increase of 12 from 2006. Known for its highest density of Royal Bengal tigers in the world, there are still 12 villages inside the core area Bandhavgarh forest. "There were a total 14 villages inside the core area and till now we could shift only one village and the process for shifting another is in the process. We need to relocate all these villages otherwise it would be difficult to prevent man-animal conflict and protect wildlife," Patil said. According to the relocation scheme, every family gets Rs 10 lakh as compensation for shifting out from the core area. There are about 2,500 families residing in the area. "We need Rs 250 crore for shifting these villages out of the core forest area. We are not able to expedite it due to the severe fund crunch," the field director said.