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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.