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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Similipal Tiger Reserve to allow night stay of visitors

PTI | 03:11 PM,Nov 14,2011 Baripada (Odisha), Nov 14 (PTI) Visitors to the Similipal Tiger Reserve would now be able to spend the night at the buffer zone. After remaining closed from March 28, 2009 following Maoist attacks, the park reopened for day tourism on December 22, 2010, but night stay of tourists was disallowed. Visitors would now be able stay nights at Gudugudia and Jamuani in the buffer zone of the sanctuary, endowed with rich bio-diversity, Field Director of the project, Anup Kumar Nayak said. The STR authorities reopened the reserve after the monsoon closure from June 16, 2011, Nayak said. The sanctuary area was closed after attacks by Maoists in the reserve's tourism zone between March 28 to 30, 2009 and again in the first week of April in the same year, official sources said. The Maoists had ransacked tourist rest houses at Chahala, Nawana and other places and caused extensive damage to the VHF wireless communication network, the sources said. Besides day tourism, night halts would also be allowed at Gudugudia and Jamuani in the buffer area, the sources said. Tourists would also be able to go for trekking and bird watching from Gudugudia. Armed police personnel have been deployed near Gudugudia and other places for the safety of tourists.

Ban on night traffic through Bandipur: Karnataka under pressure

November 15, 2011 By Amit S. Upadhye DC Bengaluru Conservationists can take heart. Karnataka is standing firm on the night ban on traffic inside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Its forest department is likely to write to the Centre in response to its suggestion on lifting the ban, that when close to 65% of all animals killed in road accidents inside Bandipur are hit by speeding vehicles at night, it doesn’t make sense to withdraw it. Vehicles taking the NH 67 from Melkamanahahalli to Kekkanahalla and the NH 212 from Maddur to Moolehole were banned from entering the Bandipur Reserve at night early August on the orders of the Karnataka High Court, leading to a collective sigh of relief among wildlife conservationists concerned about the large numbers of animals run over by them in the dark. Their worry is not without reason. A survey conducted between 2004 and 2008 has revealed that 91 mammals, 75 reptiles and 56 birds were killed due to speeding vehicles in this period, almost double the number killed by poachers in the reserve. “As most carnivores are active at night, herbivores too are on the move. Large animal congregations takes place and animals often crisscross the highways in large numbers. One estimate suggests that close to 1,600 animals, including tigers, leopards and elephants cross the roads in Bandipur at night,” says a conservationist from Mysore, D Raj Kumar, who feels the night ban has come as a huge relief to the animals. He doesn’t see why it should be revoked when there are alternative routes the vehicles can take and two passenger buses from Kerala and Karnataka are still allowed to enter Bandipur at night. Wildlife experts find it hard to understand why the forest department does not maintain records of all road kills and takes note of only tiger and elephant deaths on the highways passing through the reserve. “The deaths of reptiles and birds killed by speeding vehicles are not recorded. The department must begin reporting every road- kill to justify the night ban on traffic inside Bandipur,” underlines one expert. Techies worry about their travel times The night traffic ban at Bandipur Tiger Reserve is not just haunting truck companies and commuters, but also a large group of professionals from Kerala who work in Bengaluru. For them it’s a nightmarish experience to wait for daylight to travel and also extends their holiday by another day, just for travelling. “I understand there are alternative routes if you want to travel to Palakad. But what if we want to reach a town in Kerala situated closer to the Karnataka border? We are spending an extra day just travelling and it’s become a major issue ever since the road was closed for wildlife movement during the night,” says A. Sindhu, a researcher working in Bengaluru. According to Santosh Krishnan, a software engineer from Kerala working at a city-based firm, the alternative routes suggested by the forest department of Karnataka and conservationists are much further away. Conservationists in the state, however, said that the Kerala and Karnataka governments must prepare the alternate roads that go around the tiger reserves. “There are number of roads that can be used to avoid traffic within tiger reserves, but the government and local authorities are not maintaining them. This is done deliberately. If the roads are good there is no problem for commuters to travel during the night,” said Mahesh S., a travel agent from Bengaluru. Several animal deaths are due to speeding vehicles Sanjay Gubbi, Wildlife expert and member of the State Board for Wildlife Highways can have a serious impact on wildlife behavior, survival and movement. This is especially true for the tiger, wild dogs and other ecologically sensitive large species. One of the worst affected are tree dwelling primates and rodents that are isolated in smaller patches when there are breaks in the tree canopy, which not only reduces their forage area but also impacts genetic diversity. The most serious impact are the wildlife deaths caused by speeding vehicles. Such unnatural mortalities can have affect an entire population through loss of breeding individuals especially in species that have low reproductive rates such as the lion-tailed macaque. It has been seen that several wildlife deaths take place at night due to dazzling headlights and speeding vehicles. Nocturnal animals such as the civet, mouse deer, black-naped hare and reptiles are regular victims. So it is a common practice, both in India and many other countries, to close the highways to vehicular traffic at night in key wildlife habitats. This is good for another reason too as night traffic in such reserves can also give scope for timber smuggling and wildlife poaching —poachers caught in the Biligirirangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary have confessed to hunting on the highways of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Considering the number of wildlife deaths in Bandipur Tiger Reserve as a result of speeding vehicles, the Karntaka High Court ordered the closure of the highways running through it at night. The court’s judgment was also based on the fact that there are alternatives routes available for traffic in the area. Although they may cost a bit more to take, it’s a price we have to pay to save the habitats of our animals. Moreover the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 also makes it mandatory for tiger reserves to be protected at all costs. With only 3.3 per cent of Karnataka’s geographical area declared protected, it is well within the limits of natural justice to restrict vehicular movement in an importabt wildlife habitat at night.

Kanha Orphan Tigress Cub Shifted to Panna National Park

By: Rang7 Team November 14, 2011 A six year old tigress orphan cub residing at Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh has now been trans-located to Panna National Park, adding to the cat numbers here. The young tigress named T5 will now join one of her sisters at Panna National Park who had been trans-located from Kanha National Park to Panna National Park about eight months ago. The tigress is one of the three cubs of a tigress who had been killed during a fight with another tiger. T5 had been trans-located from one park to the other by road and was under constant supervision of the wildlife veterinaries. Once brought to Panna National Park the tigress cub was released into the wild and its movements are being constantly monitored by forest officials at Panna Tiger Reserve with the help of signal emitted by a radio collar fitted around the cat. According to officials who have monitored its sister, who has now completely adapted to its surroundings, it will take at least three months for the new resident to adapt to its surroundings and to do things on her own. During the time of translocation, the tigress was tranquilized to travel the 450 kms distance from Kanha to Panna National Park, attached with a radio collar by wildlife specialist from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and accompanied by wildlife doctors and officials of Kanha National Park to ensure it good health on the way by maintaining its physical parameters. When the mother of T5 died, her two other siblings, her sister and her brother, the third of the three cubs, all the three cubs were housed in a special enclosure in Mukki range in Kanha to prevent them from becoming preys for other animals. Normally the mother trains her cubs in the killing of prey, but if the mother happens to die before such an event, the cubs cannot be released in the wild and are sent to the zoos instead. In this case the two young tigresses had successfully developed their natural instinct of killing prey in the enclosure and were sent to National Parks and Tiger Reserves while the male cub was sent to Van Vihar National Park, which is a zoo located in the centre of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. Kanha National Park was set up in 1955 and Panna National Park in 1981. Some years back Panna National Park has lost its tiger population due to wide scale poaching, but effective management has helped to maintain and slowly increase its tiger population over the last few years. While Kanha National Park has about 60 tigers as per the last 2011 tiger census, Panna National Park now has five adult tigers, one male, four females and six cubs. Madhya Pradesh is known to be the state with the largest tiger population in India. The other important National Parks of the state are Bandhavgarh National Park and Pench National Park which is 95% in Madhya Pradesh and 5% in Maharashtra near Nagpur.