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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Apex wildlife panel to have say only over parks, tiger reserves

By Nitin Sethi, TNN | Dec 20, 2012, 05.38 AM IST Floods kill 6 animals in national parksSupreme Court lifts ban on tiger tourismTourists have to wait as forest department ropes in local community t...Supreme Court quashes rape charges against BhandarkarItaly respects Supreme Court: Defence minister NEW DELHI: Wildlife experts on board the apex National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) will clear development projects only over those forestlands which explicitly enjoy a higher level of protection under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 or are mandated for greater safety by the Supreme Court. Projects in forest patches, such as elephant reserves and green zones that conservationists refer to as "wildlife corridors" but are not designated as special legal entities under the law, will not come under the purview of the wildlife board, the environment ministry has decided. The NBWL is the apex wildlife body headed by the PM. Under various provisions and Supreme Court orders, development projects falling in designated wildlife zones and areas around these are required to be cleared by the standing committee of the board. The standing committee comprises several wildlife experts from outside the government besides officials. Some non-government experts had demanded that any area suggested as a wildlife corridor — an area that wildlife animals use frequently but do not reside in — as well as other wildlife patches regardless of legal status also come under their scrutiny. However, the environment ministry has decided that clearance from the NBWL standing committee shall be required only for national parks, sanctuaries, tiger reserves and corridors for tigers - all specially protected zones under the wildlife Act. Elephant reserves alone are spread over more than 58,000 sq km and cover not only forest-bearing lands but also agricultural lands, villages and other land under revenue control. Elephant reserves are demarcated as an area over which states can spend the funds received from Project Elephant but do not enjoy any special protection cover under law. Wildlife corridors have been defined by conservation scientists for various animals and are listed for levels of significance but the term remains controversial in the legal domain as in several cases, the use of different criteria ends up providing varying identification of these patches. In an ongoing case before the Supreme Court, the definition of an elephant corridor has ended up in huge controversy with many villagers and others standing to be impacted by how the corridor is demarcated and then treated for protection of wildlife.

Mumbai MLA moves Chavan on wildlife issues in Vidarbha

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 20, 2012, 12.35 AM IST Soon, law to deter attacks on scribes: Prithviraj ChavanPrithviraj Chavan inaugurates off-campus centre for a management inst...PMC told to finish JNNURM works without delay: Prithviraj ChavanPrithviraj Chavan steers clear of giving out flats to poorCM Prithviraj Chavan wants industrialist to help government in accele... NAGPUR: At a time when legislators from Vidarbha are not so keen to pursue issues grappling wildlife and forests, Congress MLA from Vile Parle in Mumbai, Krishna Hegde, has moved chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to expedite notification of Navegaon-Nagzira tiger reserve proposal. In a letter handed over to Chavan on Tuesday, Hegde appreciated his move to visit Tadoba National Park, which generated a lot of goodwill among wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists and officials. Hegde said the second capital of the state has already been designated as the 'Gateway to Tiger Country' by former environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, in the presence of Chavan in Mumbai in April 2011. "However, the state tourism department has not capitalized on this nomenclature. As Kerala promotes 'God's Own Country', Maharashtra should also aggressively promote 'Gateway To Tiger Land," said Hegde. "I would appeal to all the elected and nominated representatives, media and the public at large to repeatedly use the coinage so that 'Gateway To Tiger Land' gets embedded in the minds of tourists and wildlife lovers all over India and the world," he said. Apart from this, the MLA also drew Chavan's attention to other important issues related to forest and wildlife in Vidarbha. He lauded Chavan for notifying Mansinghdeo, Navegaon, New Nagzira, Umred-Karhandla and New Bor wildlife sanctuaries but demanded basic facilities like roads there. "We also need to have in place a basic infrastructure to promote tourism which is one of the issues related to tiger conservation. Madhya Pradesh is a fine example of how tiger tourism has developed," Hegde said. At the same time, the MLA also demanded to expedite eco-sensitive zones(ESZs) around the national parks and sanctuaries. Due to absence of notifications on such zones, threats of projects like power plants and mines loom large over reserves like Tadoba, Nagzira-Navegaon and Umred-Karhandla. "We need to notify Kolamarka in Gadchiroli as a sanctuary to save endangered wild buffaloes. The move will boost tourism in Gadchiroli and bring income to local communities. I have learnt that a proposal for the sanctuary is ready," he said. Genetically pure wild buffaloes are only found in Indravati in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Hegde wanted the chief minister to promote tourism industry in a big way without damaging interests of wildlife and forests. Tourism also needs to be developed in the buffer zones of tiger reserves as early as possible. He urged Chavan that despite potential, tourism is being neglected due to which local communities are unable to reap tourism benefits. Hegde's wish list * Start existing guesthouses and structures for tourists. Facilities near Tadoba are lying unutilized and rest houses in Melghat need to be renovated * Being centrally located, urgent need to start a 'tourism kiosk' at Nagpur airport and in the forest office at Nagpur from where visitors can get detailed information * Don't allow any projects in the corridor. Stop proposed construction of Human dam in Sindewahi tehsil which will cut Tadoba-Umred Karhandla-Navegaon-Nagzira corridor * Poachers roam freely in the region. Take action against officials who are lax in taking action * Formulate a policy that acts of poaching would be held against officials and it would be mentioned in their confidential reports

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

NTCA's ecotourism guidelines challenged

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 19, 2012, 03.47 AM IST Supreme Court lifts ban on tiger tourismSariska set to get three more tigersForest department seeks 1.25cr for buffer zone in PilibhitVED intervenes in tourism ban pleaTourism sector awaiting SC verdict as wildlife sanctuaries reopen on... NAGPUR: The Pench Jungle Lodges Federation has challenged the fresh comprehensive ecotourism guidelines issued by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF). The guidelines were notified on October 15, in the backdrop of Supreme Court hearing on a petition demanding ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves. The Jabalpur high court on Friday issued notices to Central and Madhya Pradesh governments and NTCA asking them to file a reply. The petitioner federation has challenged the NTCA direction to the states to appoint local advisory committee (LAC) which would take a final call on tourism in tiger reserves. "NTCA has no powers to ask states to appoint LAC. What is the need for a LAC when there is already a steering committee under respective chief ministers and state forest ministers? Besides, there is also a panel for Tiger Conservation Foundations (TCFs)," asked petitioner's counsel Rahul Diwaker. The petition says that many of the representatives like block development officers (BDOs), subdivisional officers (SDOs) among others to be appointed to the committee are persons who have no knowledge about tourism and conservation. The federation has also challenged the park management's decision to cut carrying capacity of vehicles to Pench Tiger Reserve by 50%. Earlier, 130 tourist vehicles were allowed inside Pench from three gates. However, after the Supreme Court decision, the capacity has been cut to 65 vehicles. Similar steps have been taken in Bandhavgarh and Kanha tiger reserves. In Pench, the park management reduced the carrying capacity following NTCA guidelines prescribing tourism in 20% area only of the core of tiger reserves. "Pench has reduced tourism area from existing 36% to 20% and reduced the length of routes from 145km to 112km. Hence, the number of vehicles was also halved," said Pench officials. The petitioner federation says the carrying capacity of vehicles was calculated on the basis of breeding of wild animals and impractical reasons. There is no scientific evidence to prove that tourist vehicles affect breeding of animals, the petition said. The petition has also challenged move to charge conservation fee of Rs500 to Rs3,000 per room per month from resorts. "The resort owners are already paying 35% taxes towards food licence, lease, pollution control, etc. Why the fresh tax?" says the petitioner. The NTCA guidelines have also stated that tourism needs to be phased out from core to buffer. However, this is impossible without developing the buffer zones. "First develop the buffer and then only curtail tourism in the core," said Diwaker. The matter is slated to be heard in January 2013.

Cameras at Katarniaghat capture seven big cats

TNN Dec 18, 2012, 03.11AM IST state forest department|National Tiger Conservation Authority|Katarniaghat BAHRAICH: Almost a week into Phase-IV of monitoring big cats in the reserve, seven new tigers have been sighted in forest ranges in Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. As many as 168 pairs of camera traps have been put up and 42 additional pairs are expected to be purchased by the forest department soon. Each pair has been installed across an area of 4 sq km. This has made the monitoring process more intensive compared to the sample testing method in the preceding phase when 48 pairs of camera traps had been put to use. Shailesh Prasad the field director was jubilant over the new sightings trapped on camera in Motipur and Kharkhara Ranges under Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary which falls in the buffer zones of the reserve where tiger presence was expected least, he said, expressing hope that the area has potential to breed a tiger population. The sighting was possible due to intensity of the monitoring process, he felt, adding that there might be six to eight more tigers within this 120 sq km stretch. Sharing his optimism, sources in National Tiger Conservation Authority pointed out that the results of Phase-IV monitoring across the country would certainly be encouraging. In the third phase, limited camera traps were deployed and estimation done on the basis of results obtained from sample areas. Further, since the exercise is an annual feature, a regular tab can be maintained on status of the big cat population and there will certainly be no Sariska-like situation in future, where all tigers have been poached. The State forest department is monitoring in association with WWF. "The entire 2,108 sq km of buffer and core can be covered more intensively. It is believed that at least 70% to 80% of the big cats present would cross the camera traps in 45 days of the monitoring period," said Prasad. As per the earlier estimate, presence of about 109 tigers was projected in Dudhwa. But the latest figures could vary between 140-150 tigers, said Prasad. Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, and is located in Uttar Pradesh near the Indo-Nepal border, in the Terai area of Bahraich district. It covers an area of 400 km and was established in 1976. The sanctuary is now being managed along with the Dudhwa National Park and Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, as part of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger of the Government of India. The Katerniaghat Forests provide strategic connectivity between tiger habitats of Dudhwa and Kishanpur in India and the Bardia National Park in Nepal. Its fragile Terai ecosystem comprises a mesmerising mosaic of sal and teak forests, lush grasslands, steaming swamps and wetlands. it is unique for the number of endangered and critically endangered species, which occur here and include the gharial, tiger, rhinocerous, Gangetic dolphin, swamp deer, Hispid hare, Bengal florican, the white-backed and long-billed vultures.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CM's Tadoba visit raises hopes, lifts staff morale

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 18, 2012, 06.57 AM IST NAGPUR: Sunday's visit of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to Tadoba national park on Sunday, the first by a chief minister in many years, has elevated morale of wildlife wing officials and field staff. Insiders say it has shown political will on behalf of government to conservation issues. So far, even Maharashtra chief ministers and ministers used to visit Kanha and Pench in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh to see tigers thinking sighting in state forests was poor. However, Chavan proved that the Tadoba has made a major turnaround. "Chavan notified four wildlife sanctuaries, filled up all vacant posts and promoted officials. He did not just blindly sign the notifications but understood the need for these protected areas (PAs) for tigers. By appealing to save corridors, he has gone a step ahead. For years we have been crying for such political will," said Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation. "Chief minister's visit has given a big boost to staff and wildlife wing officials. Regular sightings of tigers in Tadoba is the result of strong conservation measures undertaken in the past decade," claimed SWH Naqvi, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Maharashtra. "It is very heartening to have the chief minister in Tadoba. Involvement of senior policymakers to check ground realities is an extremely positive step. We hope this will prioritize difficulties faced by the field staff and lacuna on the ground. It will certainly benefit wildlife," felt Poonam Dhanwatey, honorary district wildlife warden of Chandrapur. Chavan has displayed political will to protect tigers or at a time when wildlife as a sector was suffering neglect. Now his cabinet colleagues and MLAs should also follow suit and work for protecting wild animals. The chief minister should contain threats like Human dam that will cut the tiger corridor between Tadoba and Umred-Karhandla sanctuary, said Prafulla Bhamburkar, state in charge of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The Vidarbha Economic Development Council (VED), which is fighting for tourism to get its due in the region, dubs it a big moment. "It will surely boost tiger tourism. Chavan seems to be sensitive towards wildlife and forests and wants to do something. At the same time he should not forget the fact that tiger tourism needs to be promoted else there would be no conservation," said Devendra Parekh, president of VED. Quotes Chavan notified four wildlife sanctuaries, filled up all vacant posts and promoted officials. By appealing to save corridors, he has gone a step ahead Kishor Rithe | president, Satpuda Foundation Chavan seems to be sensitive towards wildlife and forests... At the same time he should not forget the fact that tiger tourism needs to be promoted else there would be no conservation Devendra Parekh, president, VED CM's visit has given a big boost to staff and wildlife wing officials. Regular sightings of tigers in Tadoba is the result of strong conservation measures undertaken in the past decade

Monday, December 17, 2012

New guidelines for probing tiger deaths in the pipeline

New Delhi, Dec 16, 2012, IANS : Forest guards to get clarity on investigation process Worried over 82 tiger deaths this year in India, the highest in a decade, the environment ministry is finalising a standard operating procedure (SOP) to frame a set of guidelines for investigating such deaths by forest officials. But tiger conservators feel it may be too little and too late. The procedure is awaiting the approval of environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, who is in agreement with it. “At present, there is no set procedure about what needs to be done in case a tiger death is reported. There is no clarity about the line of investigation, paper work and other formalities required,” a senior environment ministry official said. “However, only a few instructions exist which are not even clear,” the official added. The official said the new procedure will remove the ambiguity in handling tiger deaths, thus empowering forest guards with a clear process to follow during investigations. The latest figure of tiger mortality available with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) shows that 82 tigers have died till December 3. The alarming part is that 53 of these fell prey to poachers, mostly reported in Maharashtra and Karnataka, where 10 tigers were poached in each state. Madhya Pradesh followed with eight deaths. The remaining 29 were reported as natural deaths. The figure stands far ahead of 56 tiger deaths in 2011, 53 in 2010 and 66 in 2009. Largest population India is home to the world’s largest tiger population, with 1,706 living in the wild across 41 tiger reserves. But the figure is almost a tenth of what it was — say half a century ago. Continuing its efforts to save the big cats, the official said, the environment ministry, along with NTCA, had drawn up the guidelines. In May, the NTCA had asked forest department officials to treat death of a big cat as a case of poaching, unless proved otherwise. However, there has been a tendency among forest department officials to describe the death of a tiger either from poisoning or other reasons as a natural death without examining the possibility of poaching.

Tiger kills woman in Dighori forest

TNN | Dec 17, 2012, 03.55 AM IST BHANDARA: A woman, who went into Dighori forest in Bhandara district to collect firewood, was killed by a full grown tiger on Saturday afternoon. The deceased Chhaya Deshpande (28) hailed form Manegaon village in Lakhandur taluka. Chhaya, along with some other women, had gone to Dighori forest to collect the firewood when a lurking tiger pounced on her. As she cried for help, the other women who accompanied her ran from the spot. But Nanda Kathane, a member of the group, started shouting loudly to drive the tiger away. But the beast attacked Nanda. She, however, braved the assault with the help of a bamboo basket and saved her life. After some minutes the tiger retreated but dragged Chhaya's lifeless body to some 30 meters. Deceased Chhaya is survived by son and daughter. Range forest officer CJ Mahakalkar informed that the forest department announced a compensation of Rs2 lakh to Chhaya's family. Rs10,000 were given for performing last rites.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

1.4 lakh trees felled to save tigers!

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 13, 2012, 03.07 AM IST NAGPUR: Call it ultimate irony of conservation. The state forest department earlier this year felled an unbelievable 1.4 lakh trees to resettle two villages from Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district. To relocate Jamni and Navegaon (Ramdegi) villages in Tadoba forest department used around two densely forested compartments over 500 hectares, an area roughly equal to 450 football fields. Together they had over 1.4 lakh trees that had to be felled. The shift will free roughly same sized patch inside the forest reserve over which these villages were situated for wildlife. The action has triggered a debate among conservationists whether relocation of villages from sanctuaries needs fresh guidelines. While one school considers it essential price to be paid, another section thinks the damage done is much more than conservation benefit derived. Some 226 families in the two villages have been settled at new location. The remaining 236 families (128 from Navegaon and 108 from Jamni) availed Rs10 lakh cash option. Jamni villagers are being relocated near Amdi around 14km from Tadoba in the north and Navegaon near Khadsingi adjoining the reserve. State principal secretary for forests, Praveen Pardeshi claimed that the approval under Forest Conservation Act (FCA) from the Centre to divert 250 hectare land each for Jamni and Navegaon came way back on February 14, 2002, and April 21, 2003, respectively. However, a similar proposal to relocate Fulzari village in Pench reserve during the same period was rejected by MoEF as the relocation site was situated in reserve forest in Deolapar. The site was later changed. Officials also claimed no other suitable site for relocation acceptable to villagers were available. Tiger population in Tadoba remains stagnant at 43 due to lack of space. The spillover population is dispersing into the landscape resulting in conflicts. Outside the reserve they become vulnerable to poaching and hence relocating the villages was a dire necessity. Conservationists say loss of habitat and shrinking forest cover has led to dwindling tiger numbers. They have also been fighting to stall forest land diversion for mines and and irrigation project. Against this backdrop, destroying dense forest and mass tree felling for conservation purposes seems specially jarring. The government has already spent Rs50 crore on relocation of these two villages. The money is gone and the ecology has also been damaged. On the flip side, the wildlife got more space and the space freed up can accommodate 6-7 tigers and good herbivore population. This is assuming the forest regenerates in freed areas, which is not a given. The sites of villages shifted years ago are still meadows. It may take decades, even centuries, for dense canopies to form there. Moreover, the resettlement sites are themselves in wildlife corridor. Cutting down trees and settling people there may only mean more man-animal conflict. That would truly be regressive as these villages had been living with tigers without any conflict. Pardeshi says Union government granted FCA clearance because it also knew that when we give forest land to these villages, we get equivalent non-forest land which has higher ecological value. "The relocation cannot be compared with industrial or irrigation projects. From mines, we don't get non-forest lands as in case of Jamni and Navegaon. Besides, the land so selected was as per the choice of villagers," Pardeshi explained. "It is on record that there is no revenue land available in Chandrapur. Besides, people's consent matters. Under such circumstances, this was only option," said Kishor Rithe, member of high court-appointed monitoring committee for relocation work in TATR. "You cannot compare trees felled for relocation and that for mining. In relocation, you get prime strategic land for re-forestation and wildlife even if you lose tree cover elsewhere. In mining you lose forest without getting any forest. The new sites are close to existing villages," said Rithe. Even Kalyan Kumar, deputy conservator of forest (DyCF), Tadoba (buffer) and member-secretary of district rehabilitation committee, felt the land allotted to the two villages was on the edge of the forests. This was the only viable option. "If you don't give a good deal, villagers won't agree to move out. In case of Navegaon and Jamni, we achieved twin objectives of wildlife conservation and people's livelihood security," he said. Infografx The Rationale * Forest dept chopped 1.4 lakh trees to relocate two villages Jamni and Ramdegi out of Tadoba * This was done as revenue or degraded forest land was not available * Proposals for forest land diversion were cleared in 2002 and 2003 and are being implemented now as funds came last year * Forest department achieved twin objectives of tiger conservation and livelihood security of villagers * People cannot be forced to leave and the new places were selected with villagers' consent The Way Forward * Revenue or degraded forest land must be found to resettle villages. * More villagers must be encouraged to take Rs10 lakh cash option * Need for cash incentives beyond the package money to save forest land being diverted for relocation * Melghat could reap benefit of relocation as several pieces of 'E Class' land are available. Zudpi jungle lands could be made available

National body clears projects in SGNP, GIB sanctuary

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 13, 2012, 03.01 AM IST Goa to take another shot at Jawaharlal Nehru national urban renewal m...Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission: Land Acquisition Del...CID launches its Kolkata BureauKumar Sanu releases Aamar KolkataKolkata must protect its greenery NAGPUR: The 27th Standing Committee meeting of National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) on Wednesday approved two projects inside the protected areas (PAs) in the state. The two projects include Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) proposal for double laning of railway line in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai, and laying of 220 KV Tuljapur-Solapur-Lamboti electricity transmission line through Great Indian Bustard (GIB) Sanctuary, Nanaj. Confirming the development, NBWL member Kishor Rithe stated that the committee also discussed crucial wildlife policy matters like poor fund allocation to manage critically endangered wildlife species in India. The Standing Committee, highest decision making body on issues related to projects affecting PAs, also discussed 26 old project proposals for forest land diversion falling within 10km from the boundary of PAs. It also took up 22 fresh proposals from different states. The railways project in SGNP will need diversion of 17 hectare forest land for double laning of railway line from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to Howrah. The railway line is Indian Railways quadrilateral linking the four metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. The state board for wildlife has already recommended the proposal on June 7, 2012. The NBWL cleared the project as it will benefit local population and release much-needed additional capacity in the existing railway line, which shall be utilized for running additional passenger services. The chief wildlife warden has recommended the proposal with the condition of underground or elevated railway line at corridors instead of conventional railway line on ground to minimize threat and disturbance to wildlife. Similarly, the panel also cleared proposal for laying transmission line passing through GIB Sanctuary by MSEDCL. The state board for wildlife has recommended the proposal on June 28, 2011. According to MSEDCL, the line is passing through the non-forest areas of the sanctuary. Since the entire taluka is under the GIB Sanctuary, no alternative arrangement is possible. GIB is an endangered species found in the area. The chief wildlife warden has recommended the proposal. Another member MK Ranjitsinh mooted a proposal for discussion on allocation of funds for wildlife conservation schemes other than under the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Mass hysteria claims a tiger’s life

Uncomfortable questions arise over the brutal killing of a starving tiger in Wayanad in Kerala recently. Wildlife authorities and the State Government too are responsible and must take the blame for it A tiger was shot dead near Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. Those who pulled the trigger on our national animal — egged on by a mob — had the ‘license to kill’, invoking Section 11(1)A of the Wildlife Protection Act for “self-defence”. But was it really so, given that the tiger had almost collapsed with the two tranquilliser shots, before the trigger was pulled? And how did the situation come to this stage? Individual tigers may need to be killed when circumstances warrant it. In extreme circumstances, when a tiger turns man-eater, the law provides that the tiger may be eliminated by the order of the Chief Wildlife Warden. This was clearly not the case here. The tiger had killed cattle, for which there is provision for compensation. Moreover, this year, as compared to earlier years, the number of cattle kills were substantially lower at around 60, from 130 odd in the last year. So why was he pursued, mobbed and lynched? The situation that led to this tragic climax can be pinned down to myth, media and mismanagement. For the past two months, Wayanad has been in the grip of mass hysteria, due to the myth that there are ‘too many tigers’, allegedly 80, in the sanctuary — a fallacy perpetuated and hyped with much pride. Given that Wayanad is barely 350 sq km, this was highly unlikely, raising questions about the ad hoc camera trapping and interpretation of results done by the state. Importantly, the rumour strangely discounted the fact that Wayanad is part of the Nagarahole-Bandipur-Mudumalai tiger complex, and that there would be a floating population of tigers, criss-crossing man made State and reserve boundaries. This was later proven from the photographic database available with the Wildlife Conservation Society-India. Their tiger monitoring programme spanning over two decades, has pictures of over 600 individual tigers. Using their stripe-pattern identification software, it was confirmed that the tiger killed was first camera- trapped in Nagarahole in February 2005. It was also established that this was the same ‘cattle-lifting’ tiger that had been captured, and then released, earlier in November 2012. He was old, over 10, and clearly not in robust health. Why then was the decision taken to release such a tiger, knowing that there was every risk of it turning cattle-lifter — and thereby a potential conflict hazard? Given the high density of the Nagarahole-Bandipur complex of about 10-12 tigers per 100 sq km, their high reproduction potential, coupled with high disturbance and human habitation, particularly near Wayanad, conflict is to be expected. Wildlife managers need to be geared up to be able to handle such situations. One can understand the rage and plight of those who lost their cattle, and the helplessness of officials caught in a frenzied mob, but it’s difficult to fathom the unpreparedness of the forest staff and the administration to handle the mob, given that conflict — even fatal conflict with elephants — is pretty much a way of life in Wayanad. And who will question the media, which treated every cow killed as ‘breaking news’, or the politicians who jumped in the fray promising “elimination of the tiger”, drumming up hysteria and building hostile public opinion, which, in this case, led to attacks on forest staff, conservationists and highway blockades. What also added fuel to the fire was the panic that had spread over. Wayanad is being proposed as a tiger reserve. But the Chief Minister rushed in to placate the people there that that would not happen. In the first place, there is no such proposal. And why should it be met with such animosity anyway? Wayanad is already a ‘protected area’, and giving it the status of a tiger reserve would not have meant any further restriction, either on people, or on any development concern that the State might have. Nor does a tiger reserve mean forced eviction of people — another myth that is being perpetuated by certain lobbies. Yes, there is provision for an attractive rehabilitation package for voluntary relocation from core/critical tiger habitats, and increasingly, people facing hardship living in remote forests, are opting for it, to seek better opportunities and join the mainstream of society. The tribals living within Wayanad have been canvassing for relocation for years. Forty nine families were successfully relocated last year, but there are about 700 families waiting to go. They face immense difficulties — no access to basic facilities, crops, even lives, destroyed by elephants. They have petitioned the Union Minister for Environment and Forests to allocate funds for their relocation. If anything, making Wayanad a tiger reserve would have meant easier funds allocation for voluntary relocation, more focussed wildlife management, support for conflict mitigation, etc. The killing of the tiger is a costly tragedy not just for the tiger, and for conservation, but for the hitherto peaceful people of Wayanad who seek no harm for animals and only better lives for themselves. (The author is a member, National Board of Wildlife)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Demand to exclude Nagdwar temples from Satpuda tiger reserve

By Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Dec 11, 2012, 06.09 PM IST NAGPUR: The Pachmarhi Bachao Kruti Samiti has clamoured for excluding Nagdwar and Mahedao temples from the jurisdiction of Satpuda Tiger Reserve in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh's. According to rough estimates, at least 10 lakh people visit Nagdwar every year during Nagpanchmi festival. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is 28km from Pachmarhi hill station, with motorable road till Dhupgad, some 14km away. Nagdwar is a complete walking trail through dense forests, valleys and streams. The yatra unveils many facets of human nature and of nature itself. However, as the area falls in the core of tiger reserve there are restrictions on visitors under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972. On December 3, a delegation led by working president of the samiti Umakant Zade met Hoshangabad district collector Rahul Jain and later on December 6, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan at Bhopal. "Nagdwar area should be excluded from the tiger reserve and declared a place of pilgrimage. The forest department recently demolished temporary shelters for yatris at Nagdwar. Chouhan has instructed the forest officials to stop demolition," Zade told TOI. Although Chouhan assured the delegation that the state government would extend all possible help to solve problems of the yatris, the government was bound by the recent Supreme Court ruling on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves. The pressure on forests due to pilgrims in the two months around Nag Panchami is apparent. Zade said the samiti is mobilizing devotees from all over Vidarbha to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Jabalpur High Court soon. Former MLA Marotrao Khawse, Chandrabhan Sonarghare, Ravindra Thakre, Arun Mozarkar, Damodhar Maske, Ramesh Gaurkar, Hiraman Shende, Soniram Kshirsagar, Dipak Saudagar, Gunderao Piturkar and others were part of the 30-member delegation. Zade said forest department forbids all construction, so pilgrims cannot hope for better facilities or sanitation. Defecation in open will thus continue and permanent night shelters are out of the question. There is a road for four-wheel drive vehicles till Nagdwar, but it remains closed. "Nagdwar is excluded from the reserve it will not only help devotees but many tribals will get employment," said Zade.

Poacher chopped off tiger's limb for cooking

By P Naveen, TNN | Dec 12, 2012, 12.31 AM IST BHOPAL: One of the poachers, who killed a tiger in Umaria, close to the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve two days ago, took away one of its limb for cooking. The accused, Bhola, reportedly butchered one of the limbs of the tiger and took it away, telling his fellow poachers that he would go home, cook and eat the meat. The shocking fact has come up during interrogation of the poachers by the forest authorities. Five accused who were arrested by the forest staff were on Tuesday produced in the court which remanded them to the custody of the forest department. The tiger hide was recovered by the forest staff dumped near a culvert. While the skin was recovered, other parts of the body including its kidney, liver and intestine were also missing. Autopsy revealed that one of its hind limb was cut off with a sharp edged weapon, while soft organs were consumed by predators. Bhola and his two accomplices Thakurudeen and Dasu are still at large. Efforts are on to arrest them, said R P S Chouhan, conservator of forest (CF) Umaria. We are hopeful about recovering the tiger nails which the accused had cut and taken away, he said. Five persons belonging to Palia tribal community, Darohi village (Umeria) were arrested for electrocuting the tiger near Bandhavgarh reserve on Sunday night - a few hours after its skinned carcass was found near Ghunghuti range. The accused were identified as Ram Singh, 39, Ram Milan, 30, Rajan, 24, Sukh Sen, 32, and Raju 28. The tiger skin buried in the jungle, using salt as preservative, was recovered from them. During interrogation, accused - Ram Milan - told forest officials that Bhola, who lured them to skin the tiger, took away the limb, for eating. He maintained that the trap was laid for wild boars, but the tiger fell into it accidentally. The tiger got killed on the intervening night of December 7 and 8. Panicked poachers dumped the tiger body into a culvert and went back to their village. Later in the morning they discussed the matter with Bhola and other relatives. And subsequently they agreed to revisit the spot to collect its skin, bones, nails and meat. The tiger was skinned on the intervening night of December 8 and 9. Bhola's attempts to extract teeth of the tiger by hitting it with axe failed, after two of the canine teeth's broke into pieces, making the set of teeth redundant, Ram Milan told interrogators. As his share in the kill, Bhola took away the hind limb for consumption along with three nails, said officials quoting revelations made by the arrested poachers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

5 poachers arrested, says forest official

TNN | Dec 11, 2012, 04.44 AM IST JABALPUR/BHOPAL: In November a tigress was electrocuted to death in Barhi forest area of Katni district after it came in contact with the electric trap connected to an 11-KV high tension line in Kitholi range, located 2 km away from the Bandhavgarh National Park. So similarity in the modus operendi , experts say, portends a grim trend. Interestingly, following the casual approach of the minister, forest officials also seem to be interested more in a cover up exercise. The conservator of forest R P S Baghel claimed that the trap was not meant for the tiger but for deers or wild boar, therefore the death could be accidental. Five poachers from the surrounding area have been arrested within 48 hours after the incident was reported from Amlihea village in Gungudi range on Sunday evening around 8.30 pm, he said and added that the tiger hide, buried in the jungle, has also been recovered from them." Those arrested were identified as Ram Singh, Ram Milan, Rajan, Raju and Sukh Sen - all residents of Dhorai village, 60 km from the district headquarters. Weapons including knives, axe, and GI wire were also recovered from the accused. The poachers used a wire from 440 KV service line attaching it to a wooden pole about 300 meters inside the forest, he said. Activist Ajay Dubey squarely blamed Sartaj Singh for his inability to fix accountability for growing unnatural deaths of tigers in MP.

Poachers kill tiger near Bandhavgarh reserve

By Manjari Mishra & P Naveen, TNN | Dec 11, 2012, 04.50 AM IST JABALPUR/BHOPAL: In the third incident of poaching reported since last November, a partly decomposed and skinned carcass of a tiger was found in the forest area of Umaria approximately 25 kilometers away from Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. Killed on the intervening night of December 7 and 8, the big cat fell into an electrical trap - a GI wire from the 440 KV service line pegged to a wooden pole. And even as wildlife activists are up in arms against the total failure to curb the rising cases of tiger killings in the state, forest minister Sartaj Singh plays cool and underplays the issue. Talking to TOI on Monday, Singh listed the arrest of five suspects by the police as a major achievement, which should instead be highlighted. The arrests have been made only because the forest department is alert, he declared. "Anyway keeping a constant vigil on the tiger's movement is impossible for who knows where the animal will go and when. (sher kahan khan jaata a hai yeh hum kaise jaan sakte hain). Similarly, how does one guess where the poachers have laid traps? The jungle is so vast. Crimes happen no one can predict or preempt the crime an annoyed minister imperiously announced. You must note, he said that we have been able to catch the culprit the same day and sized the stuff."

Public Accounts Committee on a 2-day visit to Tadoba

TNN | Dec 11, 2012, 06.43 AM IST NAGPUR: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Maharashtra legislature will be on a two-day visit to Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) on December 14 and 15. The committee, headed by Pune MLA Girish Bapat, will consist of 25 MLAs and two officials. The basic function of the committee is to do an audit of income and expenditure. The committee chairman has a minister of state status. Sources said this will be perhaps the maiden visit of the PAC to Tadoba. Conservationists asked whether the committee really has something to do with an audit inside the park or is it on sightseeing tour. During the recent years, regular sightings of tigers in the TATR have attracted many visitors including several VIPs to the park in Chandrapur district. As per the latest tiger estimation, TATR and its buffer have 65 recorded tigers. When contacted, Virendra Tiwari, field director and chief conservator of forests (CCF) of TATR, confirmed PAC's visit to Tadoba for audit purpose.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tiger mauls farmer near Tadoba buffer area

TNN | Dec 7, 2012, 01.55 AM IST Another farmer ends lifeFarmer dies in police firing in MaharashtraFarmer kills 13-feet King Cobra in farm, arrestedDispersing Tadoba tigers to be radio collaredFarmer welfare: Yeddyurappa, Shettar vie for credit CHANDRAPUR: A tiger killed a farmer near Talodhi village in Khadsangi range under the buffer zone of Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve. The mutilated and half eaten body of the farmer was recovered from a farm near the forest on Thursday morning. Rajaram Thakre (60), a resident of Talodhi village, had gone to graze his cattle on his fields on Wednesday. In the evening the cattle came back to the village but Thakre didn't. Worried family members along with the villagers searched for him but couldn't find him. They resumed their search in the morning and found his half eaten body in the farm of Sheshrao Selokar. "The fields are located adjacent to Kadsangi and FDCM forests. Apparently, the tiger killed Thakre and then dragged the dead body to the adjacent farm. The tiger had torn away an arm and had eaten some portion from the left side of the corpse," said ACF Arun Tikhe. A team of forest officers including RFO Khadsangi Vidya Wasav, RFO Chimur, LM Belekar and RFO Palasgaon, Rahul Sore led by ACF Tikhe rushed to the spot on being informed of the incident. "The farmer was indeed killed by a tiger. We have found tiger pugmarks on the path along which the dead body had been dragged," said Tikhe, adding that a tiger was recently seen in the area. He said that as the dead body was badly mutilated, post mortem was carried out on the spot and later on was handed over to the kin. Forest officers also gave Rs15,000 to the kin of deceased to cover funeral expenses. A compensation of Rs1.85 lakh would be given to the Thakre's family after official formalities are fulfilled, he claimed.

Villagers win accolades for saving trapped tiger

Bangalore, Dec 6, 2012, DHNS : The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has appreciated the role played by residents of Nidugumba in Kodagu district who exhibited “positive conservation attitude” and saved a tigress that was snagged in the barbed wire fence of a coffee estate on December 4. Acting with responsibility, the coffee planter Sullimada Muthanna and the village community as a whole prevented any mobbing and harassing of the struggling tiger. Instead, they contacted the forest staff of Nagarahole National Park. A team led by Field Director Basavaraj Hosmath and Deputy Director Kumar Pushkar, forest rangers, staff and veterinarians arrived swiftly and took control of the situation. In the absence of violent mob behaviour and, with cooperation of the villagers, they safely tranquilised the big cat, untangled it from the fence and transported it to the Mysore zoo. The exemplary restraint and positive conservation attitude of Nidugumba village community is appreciated,” eminent tiger conservationist Dr Ullas Karanth of WCS said in a press release on Thursday. “Big cats, when caught in snares or fences struggle hard and often injure themselves. The tigress is now undergoing a close examination to assess her injuries, age and health status so that an informed decision can be made about her future,” he said. WCS is now searching its research database of over 600 camera-trap tiger photos in Karnataka, to see if this tigress has an history of photographic capture in the region. Dr Karanth said that this happy outcome to a conflict situation stood in stark contrast to the tragic incident in Wayanad, Kerala, on December 2, where a cornered tiger was tranquilised and then shot dead, amidst chaos created by local mobs. Nidugumba is 1.2 km from the edge of Nagarahole National Park. Nagarahole is known to hold high densities of 10 to 12 tigers per 100 sq km and is producing a surplus of animals each year, which try to disperse as shown by the long term tiger population dynamic studies conducted by WCS, he said.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Third tiger reserve in Rajasthan soon

TUESDAY, 04 DECEMBER 2012 23:35 LOKPAL SETHI | JAIPUR Mukundra Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan would come into existence as a new year gift for tiger lovers. An expert committee, appointed by the State Government to demarcate the area of the new tiger sanctuary, has submitted its report to the forest department. According to Chief Wildlife Warden of the State AC Chaube, a notification to this effect would be issued within a month. The National Tiger Conservation Authority has already given in-principle approval for this third tiger reserve in Rajasthan. The committee had identified about 700 square km of forests, adjacent to Ranthambore National Park (RNP), in the Kota region for this sanctuary. These thick forests were one of hunting areas of former rulers of Kota. Of the total, about 417 square km would constitute as the core area of the reserve while the remaining would be its buffer zone. Presently, there are four villages located in the core area. Once the notification is issued, a programme would be chalked out to relocate these villages, says Chaube. As this new reserve would be connected to the RNP through a corridor, it would give more space to tigers here to move freely in new areas. Right now the total number of tigers in the RNP, which has total area of about 600 square km, is 53, which include 26 cubs. Owing to the less area available for their movement, tigers from this park used to stray in Mukundra forest. In fact, tiger T25 has made these forests as his new home for the past several months. Owing to the shrinking area of the RNP compared to the growing population of the tiger, the big cats frequently used to get involved into brawl over their territory. In these fights they often received injuries to the extent of danger to their lives. Experts feel that with the coming up of a new tiger reserve, close to the RNP, some tigers may decide to move there. The Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar district has currently seven big cats, which include two cubs.

Madhya Pradesh increases wild life rescue teams to bring down man-animal conflict

By Bagish K Jha, TNN | Dec 4, 2012, 02.15 PM IST INDORE: In a move to bring down the man-animal conflict and early and safe rescue of wildlife, forest department has created four new rescue teams for Indore, Dhar, Jhabua and Alirajpur. Each team will be consist of 8 to 10 forest personnel including forest ranger and forest guards, they will be equipped with basic rescue equipment. Till now there have been only 8 wildlife rescue teams in entire state, out which one was stationed in Indore. Rescue team of Indore had to look after a huge area right from Burhanpur to Gandhi Sagar and it generally takes several hours and on some occasion even more than a day to reach at the spot. Now there will be a rescue team at every division level. Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) P C Dubey said, "Each team will have 8 to 10 personnel and they will scattered all across the division. They will gather a place after getting any information about wild animal and carry out rescue operation. In case of any animal like tiger they inform the central team and do ground work for them." Dubey said rescue team at division level will reduce the response time significantly and it will avert any possibility of man-animal conflict. Elaborating further he said till now people at district and division level were not trained so they were of no help even for the central rescue team in case of rescue. Need of the rescue teams can be understood from the fact that last year nearly 200 rescue operations were carried out in Indore range. Most of time animal were rescued includes beer, dear, hyena, blue cow, monkey, black bugs, birds. "Last year a leopard was rescued from Dhar and every year at least one case of leopard rescue is reported from each district in region," said Dubey adding that region has around 16 leopards and some time they venture near village areas. Assistant Conservator of Forest ( Tiger Strike Force) Man Singh said quick response in case of rescue is very essential to avoid man animal conflict. These teams will now be a position to reach at spot within two hours. "Team has been created from existing force. We have given them training and basic equipments," said Singh adding that proposal for equipping these teams with more gadgets have been sent. "Till now we are facing bid problem if we get two calls in one day, as we had only one team for entire region. In addition to this it takes long to reach team at spot. This makes thing complex as huge crowd gathered a spot endangering the life of wild animal," said Singh.

Kaziranga guards to be armed with AK-47s

TNN | Dec 4, 2012, 11.01 PM IST GUWAHATI: Forest guards of Kaziranga National Park will now be armed with AK-47 and AK-56 rifles to curb poaching at the park. The civil aviation ministry is also processing the licence to deploy unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to monitor the park day and night. The guards, at present, are armed with antiques like 303 rifles while poachers have killed rhinos with AK-47s. State forest minister Rockybul Hussain said, "We have moved the home department for arming the forest guards in Kaziranga with AK-47 and AK-56 rifles which will be done very soon." Hussain added that the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on Tuesday released Rs 1 crore for repair work in the park and another Rs 5 crore for infrastructure development. "Next month the NTCA, the state government and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council will discuss and chalk out a full proof strategy to combat poachers," Hussain added. The park borders the autonomous hill district and poachers have been found to come from the district.

NTCA to conduct independent probe into Wayanad tiger killing

By K R Rajeev, TNN | Dec 5, 2012, 01.13 AM IST KOZHIKODE: Taking serious note of the shooting of a stray tiger in Wayanad on Sunday, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided to rush a three-member team to conduct an independent probe into the incident. Three assistant inspector general rank officers -- Sanjay Kumar from the NTCA headquarters in New Delhi and Ravikiran Govekar and Shivakumar C M from the NTCA regional offices in Nagpur and Bangalore respectively -- will reach Wayanad on Wednesday. A senior official with the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) in New Delhi told TOI that the team will look into all aspects on 'how and under what circumstances the animal was shot dead'. He said that under the Wildlife Act, a tiger can be killed only when it is a 'man eater' and that too after specific orders from the chief wildlife warden. The team will also examine the carcass of the animal preserved at the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary. The official said that the district administration and the state forest department had failed to remove public misconceptions about the area being declared a tiger reserve. "We feel that the forest department there was euphoric about the reported high tiger numbers in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and were showcasing it as their USP. The claim that there were 70 tigers in Wayanad alone was not correct as the area is contiguous with the tiger reserves in Karnataka. The sanctuary cannot sustain such a large tiger population. The report of such high numbers could have spread panic among the people," he said. The official added that even the NTCA was not interested in declaring the area a tiger reserve as Wayanad is a human dominated landscape and cannot be a successful tiger reserve. Meanwhile, environment organizations in Wayanad have demanded a CBI probe into the incident. They said that the tiger was killed to pacify a mob that was baying for its blood even after two tranquilizer shots were fired at it. "The MoEF and NTCA should take steps to initiate a probe by a central agency into the conspiracy hatched by certain vested interests and political parties to kill the animal by whipping up public frenzy," said Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi president N Badusha. Wildlife activists, who are also contemplating legal action against the government, said that the incident has brought to light the abject failure of the district administration in crowd control and crisis management. "The firing of tranquilizer shots should have been made in a controlled situation and not in the middle of thousands of people. The life of the animal could have been saved if a little more time was given for the tranquilizer to act on the animal," he added. Meanwhile, Bandipur Tiger Reserve director Kumar Pushkar told TOI that the 10-member special tiger protection force team from Bandipur had no role in the killing of the animal. "Our team did not carry any firearms. Our officials only helped in the search for the animal and in firing the tranquilizing darts," he said. Kerala forest officials admitted that it was a forest guard of the department who had fired the killing shot.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tiger killed in Wayanad was not a man-eater: Maneka

IGNATIUS PEREIRA Maneka says it was not a man-eater The killing of a tiger, which had given sleepless nights to people in several villages of Wayanad district of Kerala over the past fortnight, has triggered an uproar within and outside the State. A special task force of the Forest Department shot dead the tiger inside a coffee plantation near Moolamkavu on Sunday after it ventured out of the forest and lifted over a dozen cattle from the neighbouring villages. Green activists in the State are up in arms against the killing and have threatened to move the Kerala High Court on the issue.People for Animals (PFA) chairperson Maneka Gandhi said “the incident creates a sound base to wind up the Wildlife Department.” Talking to The Hindu on the phone from the PFA headquarters in New Delhi on Monday, she said the tiger was not a man-eater and there was no reason to kill it. A so-called special task force was deployed to “capture” the tiger and “not to kill it.” It could have been easily captured and relocated. According to the Forest Department, it all happened because an uncontrollable crowd followed the task force inside the forests. This made it clear that the authorities had encouraged people to come inside the forests and witness the operation. “The operation should have been one to save the tiger and not to eliminate it,” she said. The incident conveyed a message that Kerala had got used to killing its wildlife treasures without giving any forethought. “The State has a Wildlife Department which either takes bad decisions or no decisions,” she said. Probe ordered When contacted, a top forest officer, who did not wish to be quoted, said the department had ordered a high-level probe into the incident. The probe would focus on whether shooting the tiger at that point of time could be justified. The officer said the task force adhered to all rules and tried its best to tranquilise, capture and relocate the tiger. But the crowd was simply unmanageable. E. Kunhikrishnan, wildlife enthusiast and professor at University College, Thiruvananthapuram, told The Hindu that the Forest Department had done its best to save the tiger. But the tragedy occurred because of the mob. However, there was some lack of professionalism in administering the tranquiliser shots. Tigers had been easily tranquilised and relocated in other parts of the country. It also appeared puzzling how the whole incident got videographed as though it was a documentary, Professor Kunhikrishnan said. Veterinary surgeon and technical expert of the Kollam unit of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals B. Aravind, who had tranquilised and brought under control several captive elephants that ran amok, said there appeared to have been some technical failure in the tranquiliser shots. He blamed the mob for the situation. It would take at least 10 minutes for the tiger to swoon. The mob made the tiger wary and defensive when it experienced the pain of the tranquiliser shot, Dr. Aravind said. Keywords: tiger killing, Maneka Gandhi, man-eater, man-animal conflict, Forest Department

Forest department plans to ban private vehicles inside Anamalai reserve

By K A Shaji, TNN | Dec 4, 2012, 05.58 AM IST COIMBATORE: Major changes are in store at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) with the forest department deciding to restrict the movement of private vehicles beyond Sethumadai, the gateway to the reserve in the foothills of the Western Ghats. Visitors will have to cover the 28-km forest stretch from Sethumadai to Topslip, which passes through the core area of the reserve, on vehicles provided by the forest department. A small fee will be charged from visitors who avail of the 'guided tour' which will also cover tourist spots in and around Topslip, officials said. Private vehicles travelling to Parambikulam tiger reserve in Kerala alone will be allowed to go beyond Sethumadai. Exemption has been made for these vehicles since the Parambikulam reserve can be accessed only through the road that passes through ATR. These vehicles, however, will be closely monitored. At present, tourists travel to both Anamalai and Parambikulam reserves in their own vehicles. Once the regulated tourism comes up in ATR, only forest department vehicles and two government buses from Pollachi and Palakkad to Parambikulam will be allowed run on the road that passes through tiger country. A large parking lot is expected to be constructed in Sethumadai which borders Ulanthy forest range to accommodate tourist vehicles. "It is advantageous for both department and the visitors. Tourists can enjoy the facilities in a better way under the guided tourism and we can have effective monitoring. Almost all the major tiger reserves are practicing it successfully,'' said a senior official of the ATR. In Topslip, tourists can avail of a 17-km vehicle safari conducted by the forest department. Bookings can be made on the spot at Topslip and advance bookings can be made at the forest office in Pollachi. Three trekking routes have also been resumed at Pandaravara, Manampally and Aliyar. In Topslip, two dormitories with 30 beds are available. In the case of Monkey Falls on Valparai road, the department is planning steps to ease vehicle congestion. Private vehicles would be stopped at a parking lot near Aliyar dam and tourists would be taken in forest department vehicles to the famous waterfall. Also the department plans to have guided tourism in some parts of Valparai, including in Kadamparai Arch, Sholayar Dam, Upper Aliyar Dam, Grass Hills, Attakatti and Varayadu Hills. Though Valparai receives hundreds of visitors every month, only Chinna Kallar and Nallamudi viewpoint are accessible for tourists in Valparai. Now plans are also on to allow tourists to visit Meenparai and Number 10 Parai in Manompally forest range. The proposals of the forest department need to be cleared by the government, which officials expect in a month. The Supreme Court approved 'Normative Standards for Tourism Activities and Project Tiger Guidelines, 2012,' talks about stringent regulations for tourism within the tiger reserves even while allowing "ecologically sustainable and nature-friendly tourism" in 20% of the core areas. The guidelines also warn against allowing "mass tourism" in tiger reserves and calls for tourist activities that will ensure "sustainable, equitable and community-based effort which will improve the living standards of local, host communities living on the fringes of tiger reserves".

Dabhil villagers set to move HC against project

Snehal Rebello, Hindustan Times Project-affected residents of Dabhil village are likely to move the Bombay high court in the next two weeks challenging the acquisition process for the proposed Sarambala medium irrigation project in Sawantwadi taluka of Sindhudurg. Non-government organisation Vanashakti is also set to challenge the Rs184.73-crore irrigation project in the eco-senstive area, with the contention that the project is ill-conceived. More than 150 hectares of forest land in Dabhil, along with homes, ancient temples and sacred groves fall under the submergence area of the project. “The irrigation department has said the dam will be built on the Dabhil nullah (drain). How can a tributary of the Terekhol river be called a nullah,” questioned environmentalist Stalin D from Vanashakti. “The effect of blocking the Dabhil river on downstream villages has also not been documented.” In April, Vanashkati had written to forest secretary Praveen Pardeshi raising objection to the Sarambala irrigation project inside a proposed wildlife corridor, and sought its cancellation. Pardeshi didn’t respond to phone calls or text messages from HT. Project-affected villagers have not been accepting the repeated eviction notices issued by the collector’s office. “We don’t want the project. We don’t water for our fields. We don’t want to be forcibly evicted and relocated from out land,” said Balkrishna Gavas, a resident of Dabhil. According to a reply under the Right to Information Act to Vanashakti, none of the residents of villages, who are deemed to benefit from the Sarambala project, have written to the irrigation department asking for water for agriculture or drinking purposes. Moreover, while the project report has claimed no wild animals have been seen in the proposed submergence area, tiger pugmarks were spotted at Dabhil village last week. The pugmarks were put in cast and sent to the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Officials kill tiger in Wayanad

Shaju Philip : Thiruvananthapuram, Mon Dec 03 2012, 03:58 hrs Man-animal conflict has led to the killing of a male tiger near the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in north Kerala on Sunday. The forest officials shot dead the beast which apparently had been attacking domestic animals of the human settlement near the sanctuary. Although the issue has been a routine affair in this region, the issue got a new dimension with rumours that the sanctuary would be soon declared a tiger reserve. Under pressure from the locals and their political representatives, a team of forest officials with the help of their counterparts from Karnataka have been trying to capture the tiger for the last one week. The personnel had placed four cages with live baits in different places but could not capture the beast. They even placed surveillance cameras and used trained elephants to tour the forest areas. On Sunday morning, the forest team spotted the tiger in a private land and shot a tranquilising dart. But it could not tame the tiger. So they fired another one, following which the animal turned against the team. Sanctuary wildlife warden S Sreekumar said at this stage the team, comprising veterinary surgeons, had little option but to fire the killer shot. “We have invoked the section 11 (1) A of Wildlife Act for self-defence. Otherwise, the animal would have attacked the men,” he said.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Poacher nabbed with 16 tiger nails

TNN | Nov 30, 2012, 05.28 AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Gadchiroli forest officers arrested a poacher and recovered 16 tiger nails from his possession at Ashti village on Wednesday evening. A team of foresters on Thursday was dispatched to remote Somnur village along Andhra Pradesh border to seize the skin of a poached tiger. RFO, Chamorshi, SM Gajarlawar, who is on training in Karnataka, got a tip-off that Tirupati Kawre, 24, was in possession of a tiger's body parts. Forest officers then sent a decoy as a customer seeking tiger nails from Kawre. He struck a deal and asked Kawre to deliver the nails at Ashti in Chamorshi tehsil on Wednesday. A team of forest men under the guidance of RFO, Ghot, TR Tamatkar was stationed at Ashti. "No sooner Kawre got down from the ST bus, he was rounded up by the team. On searching his belongings, 16 tiger nails were recovered," said sources involved in the raid. Kawre hails from Somnur in Sironcha tehsil of Gadchiroli. Sources claimed that the tiger was poached around a year back in the forest along Andhra Pradesh border and poachers were in possession of its skin and nails. Confirming the raid and the subsequent arrest of the accused, RFO Tamatkar claimed Kawre was booked under relevant section of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. "During interrogation, Kawre gave the location of the tiger skin. A team has been dispatched on Thursday to Somnur to recover the skin," he said adding, "More arrests are likely to be made in the case."

3 years, 38 cases of man-animal conflict

Niraj Chinchkhede, TNN Nov 29, 2012, 07.17AM IST Tags: Pimpalkhuta villages|man-animal conflict|Forest AURANGABAD: Three cages at strategic locations at Waluj and Pimpalkhuta villages have not helped the forest department capture two panthers from the area. Following the recent case of man-animal conflict in Waluj where a woman was injured by a panther, the forest department had intensified its hunt for the wild cats. The animals were spotted in Waluj and nearby areas. Meanwhile assistant conservator of forest R R Malekari said on Monday that the injured women, the 38th victim in a span of the last three years in the division, would be given compensation as per the government's guidelines. The process was on, he said. In 2009-10, there were six cases of man-animal conflict but no humans were killed. There were cases of panthers and wild boars entering the areas in remote villages of the division and hurting villagers. The forest department had paid a total compensation of about Rs 1.75 lakh. In 2010-11, the number of such cases surged to 13 and one person was killed by a wild boar. The department had paid a total of about Rs 3.76 lakh as compensation in all the cases. In 2011-12, 10 cases of man-animal conflict were registered and a child was killed by a panther. The total compensation paid by the department in 2011-12 was about Rs 3.79 lakh. This year, the cases registered during the current financial year has already touched 9 where panthers and wild boars had injured the villagers. However, no death was reported so far and the forest department had paid about Rs 2.15 lakh in compensation. The state government offers a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for those permanently disabled as a result of attacks by wild animal or are killed. The persons severely injured by the wild animals are offered Rs 50,000 while who sustain minor injuries get Rs 7,500 in the form of compensation. However, the victims of conflicts with wild animals like tiger, panther, bear, hyena, wild boar, Indian wolf, fox, elephant, wild dog and crocodile are only eligible for the compensation benefits. It is also necessary that disability should be certified by the district surgeon or a district-level medical officer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

TATR: Maharashtra plans long-term study on tiger ecology

Vivek Deshpande : Nagpur, Thu Nov 29 2012, 03:02 hrs In a first, the Maharashtra government will undertake a long-term comprehensive study about tiger dispersal and its ecological aspects, first time with radio telemetry, in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) landscape. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will partner with the state forest department in the Rs 1.6-crore study partly funded by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). A pact between the three agencies is likely to be signed in December first week, according to WII scientist Bilal Habib, who will head the project. “The project’s initial phase will span the next 10 years and it will provide baseline data from about 3,000 sq km of TATR landscape that includes various contiguous protected areas such as Nagzira, Navegaon, Chaprala and Umred-Karandla about not just tigers but all co-predators and prey species and dynamics of their relationships and co-existence. It will generate a huge pool of information about tiger dispersal, occupancy, the threshold of disturbance that causes conflict, corridors. It will also give a perspective about how and why the dispersal happens,” Habib told The Indian Express. This is the first time in central India that long-term study has been planned. Wildlife biologist Ulhas Karanth has done it in south India without radio telemetry (radio collaring of tigers) over the past many years. Asked why TATR was selected for the project, Habib said, “TATR landscape is unique for the dispersing tigers coming in conflict with humans and for its about 5-6 breeding tigresses adding to the population and triggering dispersal every year. It is also interesting from the point of translocation of human populations in rehabilitation programmes. With some villages already relocated and some other in the offing, TATR offers us unique chance to study how the vacated space augurs for wildlife.” About the project’s utility, Habib said, “It will be useful in better managing wildlife corridors and man-animal conflict. It will offer better understanding about tiger-leopard co-existence, prey-predator relationship, prey base requirement and tiger ecology.” Another uniqueness of the project will be that it will study all the components of entire wildlife and its habitat and ecology, he said. The TATR Tiger Foundation has already sanctioned over Rs 46 lakh for the first five years of the project in excess of the Rs 1.6 crore the NTCA is going to fund.

Govt affidavit pitches for mining near Sariska park

By Rachna Singh, TNN | Nov 29, 2012, 02.45 AM IST JAIPUR: After categorically denying that there was mining near Sariska Tiger Reserve and claiming that nearly 40 mining leases were given 20-60 km away from the tiger reserve, the mining department has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court- appointed panel requesting that the 'no-mining zone' shall be reduced to 100 metres from the current 1 km boundary of the reserve. If the apex court refuses to accept state government's contention, at least 123 mines will be closed down in the area. According to the affidavit filed on behalf of the state government before the Central Empowered Committee on safety zones (Eco-Sensitive Zones) around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Rajasthan is aggrieved by the eco-sensitive zone delineation. "As of now, there is no mining activity within the precincts of Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR). However, mining is continuing outside the STR with respect to nearly 123 mines in 229.34 hectares. It is only in selected areas where mining is continuing. The state government is seeking modification of the uniform one km eco-sensitive zone to 100 metres," reads the affidavit. In fact, the areas specified falls within the one km area of the STR. It extends from the eastern boundary of Berwa Doongri protected forests to western boundary of Baldeogarh protected forests up to Baldeogarh village. The other areas that the state government seeks exemption for are Jaisinghpura, Tilwad Main, Kalwad, Dabkan, Tehla, Nandu, Khariyawas, Chhoti Cheend, Mallana and the reserve forests of Dabkan. Earlier reports too had suggested that the leases granted by the state government in 2010 had gone to a few Haryana-based companies at villages such as Jaisinghpura, Malana, Govardhanpura, Palpura and Jamwaramgarh in the vicinity of Sariska tiger sanctuary.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anamalai Tiger Reserve reopens for tourism

By K A Shaji, TNN | Nov 28, 2012, 05.18 AM IST Supreme Court lifts ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reservesSupreme Court ban on wildlife tourism in reserves is endangering the ...Supreme Court quashes rape charges against BhandarkarKasab yet unaware of Supreme Court verdictRape victim's testimony enough: Supreme Court COIMBATORE: After four months of indecisiveness, Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) was reopened for 'regulated and low impact tourism' on Tuesday facilitating entry for nature lovers to key attractions like Topslip, Monkey Falls, Chinnakallar Falls, Nallamudi View Point and Meenparai. Lifting of the ban on tourism in ATR also facilitates entry of visitors to Kerala's famous Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, which is accessible only through Top Slip. Tourists can also access Chinnar Water Falls and Panchalinga Aruvi at Thirumoorthy, given that the ban has been revoked. Two forest guest houses located in Sheikalmudi and Sethumadai can also be accessed as the ATR has started implementing fresh guidelines on tourism approved by the Supreme Court. "The Supreme Court has permitted tourism in 20 percent of the core area. In our case, we are just using about six percent of the core area for tourism,'' said the ATR field director Rajiv Srivastava. However, the elephant safari at Top Slip has been discontinued as all the elephants are at the Kozhikamuthi rejuvenation camp. In Topslip, nature lovers can enjoy a 17 km vehicle safari conducted by the forest department. Bookings can be made on the spot at Topslip and advance bookings can be made at the forest office in Pollachi. Three trekking routes have also been resumed at Pandaravara, Manampally and Aliyar. In Top Slip, two dormitories are available with 30 beds. In addition, there are 18 guest houses in tourism permitted areas of ATR. At Monkey Falls, located close to Valparai Road, the department is planning special parking facilities and basic amenities. With the opening of Chinnakallar Falls and Nallamudi View Point, visitors to Valaparai can have access to all its major attractions. Travel operators and home stay providers in Valparai had waged a long legal battle to have both locations exempted from the tourism ban. "We are in the process of ensuring active involvement of traditional forest dwellers in tourism activities. We will ensure community participation in all tourism-related activities and ensure that the benefits of eco-tourism reach the various aborigine communities that live in the periphery of the reserve,'' said Rajiv Srivastava. In ATR, About 40 tribal youths have already been trained in hospitality management and dealing with visitors. Anamalai is set to follow the Parambikulam model of involving tribals in tourism. "Only sustainable, equitable and community-based efforts which will improve the living standards of local, host communities lon the fringes of reserves will be allowed," he added.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Four poachers held from Panna Reserve

TNN | Nov 27, 2012, 04.20 AM IST BHOPAL: Four poachers were arrested from within the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) with 61 crude grenades and other hunting tools by the forest officers during a search operation on Monday. The accused -- Lalab Singh, Gilat Singh, Mithun Singh and Rama Nan, all belonging to a nomadic community - were arrested from Patha village in PTR following a specific intelligence input, said sources. Three of them were arrested earlier in other poaching cases earlier also. They have been arrested and sent to jail on charges of trespass and possession of explosives, PTR field director R S Murti told TOI. Success of this operation was because of our strengthened field intelligence and preventive strategy, he said. Prima facie it seems that they were trying to hunt wild boars, he said adding they use cocooning crude bombs. Wild boars often got attracted by the stench and the device explodes when they attempted to chew on it. Their meat fetches good money in the market during the tourist season, said sources. Crude bombs can prove lethal to any wild animal including a tiger, if it chews it. On Saturday, a cow got into the booby trap. "It has suffered a major injury with the impact of blast. As the incident took place outside the park in North Panna area, the case was referred to local police for further investigation. One person was also detained and handed over to police in this connection, said PTR officials.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Long-term study to track TATR tiger movement

Mumbai News www.mid-day.comFind out the freshest and latest news of Mumbai Vivek Deshpande : Nagpur, Mon Nov 26 2012, 03:41 hrs Wildlife Institute of India is partnering the state forest department in the study with National Tiger Conservation Authority putting in Rs 1.6 crore for the project A comprehensive long-term study of tiger dispersal and its ecological aspects in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) landscape is being undertaken by the Maharashtra government using radio telemetry (radio collar). The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is partnering the state Forest department in the study with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) putting in Rs 1.6-crore for the project. A memorandum of understanding between the three is likely in the first week of December, according to WII scientist Bilal Habib, who will head the project. “The initial phase of ten years will provide baseline data from about 3,000 sq km of the TATR landscape that includes various contiguous protected areas such as Nagzira, Navegaon, Chaprala and Umred-Karandla about not just tigers but all co-predators and prey species and the dynamics of their relationships and co-existence. It will generate a huge pool of information on tiger dispersal, occupancy, threshold of disturbance that causes conflict, corridors etc. It will also give a perspective on how and why dispersal happens, where dispersing tigers go,” Habib told The Indian Express. This is the first long-term study in central India. Wildlife biologist Ulhas Karanth has done it in south India although without radio telemetry (radio-collaring of tigers). In the north, studies for 3-4 year duration have been undertaken using telemetry, but this would be the first long-term study using radio telemetry anywhere, according to Bilal. Asked why TATR was selected, Habib said, “TATR landscape is unique for dispersing tigers coming in conflict with humans and for its 5-6 breeding tigresses adding to the tiger population and triggering dispersal every year. It is also interesting from the point of translocation of human population in rehabilitation programmes. With some villages already relocated and some others in the offing, TATR offers us a unique chance to study how vacated space augurs for wildlife.” About the utility of the study, Habib said, “It will be useful in managing wildlife corridors and man-animal conflict in a better way. It will offer better understanding of tiger-leopard co-existence, prey-predator relationship, preybase requirement, tiger ecology, etc.” “Another uniqueness of the project will be that it will study all the components of the entire wildlife, its habitat and ecology,” he added. Last year, a rescued tigress was released into the wild with a radio collar. Wildlife biologist Vidya Athreya monitored it for many months before the collar became defunct. It gave valuable inputs on tiger movement and behaviour for the first time on the TATR landscape. The TATR Tiger Foundation has already sanctioned over Rs 46 lakh for the first five years of the project in excess of the Rs 1.6 crore NTCA is going to fund.

Forest dept gets eco-friendly anti-poaching camp

BS Reporter / Chennai/ Mysore Nov 26, 2012, 00:51 IST The forest department is going green and wants to keep its carbon footprint low . Braving wild elephants, the Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies of the Mysore -based National Institute of Engineering ( NIE-CREST ) has built an eco-friendly anti-poaching camp , incorporating renewable energy and sustainable technologies that can be a model for other forest departments. The camp, ‘Aranyaka’, is built at a project cost of Rs 8.8 lakh in Avarepura, in the Moleyur forest range, Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary . The work was initiated in April last and was completed in six months. “This is the first-ever eco-friendly, sustainable and renewable energy-based anti-poaching camp. This can bring in the concept of green building, good comfortable stay for forest watchers. By adopting the model, the forest departments can become leaders in low-carbon footprint among others, a vital need of the day,” NIE-CREST director Shamsunder told Business Standard. The camp is built with locally-procured material and stabilised mud blocks prepared at the Moelyuru Range Forest Office site using local soil, sand and 9 per cent cement. About 5,000 such blocks are used for its construction. Unlike traditional clay bricks, these blocks do not require fire for burning. Instead, they are sun cured for 21 days. They provide thermal comfort inside the unit. In addition, the stabilised mud block masonry does not need plastering, he said. Considering deficit of water, the professor said rainwater harvesting had been incorporated in the building to meet the demand for water for a major part of the year. About 40,000 litres can he harvested in a year, helping with water conservation. An 8,000-litre underground storage facility and a 1,000-litre overground level tank were added features of the scheme. Utilisation of solar energy does not essentially fulfill the task of energy conservation. If solar energy is used with LEDs, efficiency will be markedly better. Eight solar LED bulbs, along with walkie-talkie and mobile chargers ensure uninterrupted power supply making the unit self-reliable in power. Efficiency of conventional cook stoves is less than 10 per cent and releases an enormous amount of smoke. Its poor thermal insulation leads to waste of heat. To overcome this, two fuel-efficient biomass cook stoves with a higher efficiency of 45 per cent and a bath stove have been provided to conserve wood and create smoke-free environment, Shamsunder added. “Working in the wild forest provided us with a different experience and challenges during the project implementation. Wild jumbos once attacked our construction site and destroyed eight cement bags. We had to increase the elephant trench depth and width,” he narrated his experience. The entire project was designed by NIE-CREST and Voice for Wildlife Trust, Mysore as a joint venture with Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mumbai and Tiger Conservation Foundation, Bandipur. Inaugurating the newly built ‘Aranyaka’, NIE Secretary N Ramanuja offered more eco-friendly technologies developed by CREST to the Forest Department. Project Tiger Field Tiger B J Hosamat complimented CREST for developing a model camp with unique features that suited a wildlife sanctuary. Shamsunder requested the Department to adopt these technologies in more anti-poaching units.

Probe tigress death, urges RTI activist

TNN | Nov 26, 2012, 03.05 AM IST BHOPAL: Wildlife and RTI activist Ajay Dube has urged the centre to send a special investigation team (SIT) to Madhya Pradesh to investigate the death of a tigress in the forests of Katni, neighbouring Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. In a letter addressed to the minister for environment and forest, Dube has claimed that the norms have been violated while disposing off the remains of the tigress. He said that a post mortem was not performed and the forest department has claimed that "it to be a natural death". "Without performing an autopsy how can they claim that it was a natural death, Dube wondered. On Nov 18, the official in-charge of the forest circle where the incident took place had stated that an FIR would be filed against the electricity department as the tigress was "allegedly electrocuted" and the electricity department was responsible for the management of power lines responsible for the incident. However, the forest department in its primary offence report (POR) no 307/ 21, did not mention any one and the report has been registered against "anonymous". In the POR, the department has mentioned the cause of the death as "natural", he added.

Govt plans lucrative package to forest dwellers

Bangalore: Nov 26, 2012 DH News Service Having failed to convince forest dwellers to move out of Karnataka’s Tiger Reserves, the State Forest department has decided to make the compensation package more lucrative. Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwara said that the department had decided to increase the amount of the compensation under Project Tiger from Rs 10 lakh per family to Rs 20 lakh per family. The decision was taken at a review meeting Yogeeshwara held with his officials on Saturday. Speaking to reporters here, Yogeeshwara said repeated attempts from the department to convince forest dwellers from the six Tiger Reserves in the State had failed, and that an increase in the compensation amount might encourage the affected people to voluntarily accept the relocation package. The minister said that the department had successfully shifted all families from within the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. There were around 154 families in the reserve and all of them have been shifted. But the department is finding it difficult to convince people in Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve and Kudremukh Tiger Reserve to relocate, he said. Yogeeshwara said Nagarahole had 1,054 families, of which 496 families had volunteered to shift, while around 400 families among the 736 families in Bhadra had already moved out. Anshi-Dandeli had around 4,114 families, of which around 350 families had agreed to relocate, he said. He said the Kudremukh National Park, which was yet to be declared as a Tiger Reserve, has been notified and that there were around 1,382 families and all of them required to be shifted. Yogeeshwara also said the department had decided to employ villagers living on the fringes of forest areas to help monitor the forests during summer, ensuring that there aren’t any incidents of fire. Earlier this year, around 2,000 hectares of forest in Nagarhole and Bandipur had been destroyed in fire. Inquiries revealed that the forests were set afire intentionally by trouble makers. Also, it was ascertained that villagers who were not employed by the department to patrol the forests were not hired.

Ensuring food for overnight tourists irks activists

MONDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2012 01:07 PARITOSH KIMOTHI | DEHRADUN Wildlife activists are opposing the order of Corbett tiger reserve director, wherein he has directed forest rangers to ensure food for tourists staying overnight in forest rest houses. The rangers have been ordered to manage facility through staff welfare society, but no such society exists in the State, allege activists. This is preventing staff from focusing on wildlife protection which is their main responsibility. In a letter written to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) member secretary, People for Animals, Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi states that in an order dated November 6, Corbett director Ranjan Mishra has instructed rangers to ensure arrangement of selling meals and refreshments to tourists through a staff welfare society. “The order has been implemented in Bijrani and Sarpduli ranges since national park reopened for tourists on November 15. However, no such staff welfare society exists in Uttarakhand which can run these canteens and cook meals for visitors. The rangers have been managing the canteens themselves and through forest guards, watchers and daily wagers hired to guard the forest,” she said. Maulekhi adds that one vehicle is provided to each ranger in Corbett for official rounds and ensuring safety and observance of rules in the national park but these vehicles are being used by rangers to buy perishables like vegetables, milk and rations for the eateries that they are being asked to run. The vehicles are occupied practically daily for fetching supplies while the rangers are negotiating with vendors instead of attending to their official duties. The Supreme Court has simply asked that NTCA guidelines be followed, which state that canteens be run by the Tiger Foundation itself or in consultation with and cooperation by the State Government and local people. Uttarakhand CM who also heads the Corbett Foundation had categorically stated on August 27 this year that the canteens will not be run by the Tiger Foundation at Corbett and the existing arrangement of giving out tenders must be maintained and this has also been registered in the minutes of the meeting of the State Wildlife Board.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Now, night patrolling at Sariska reserve

TNN | Nov 23, 2012, 05.38 AM IST ALWAR: In a move to keep poachers away from the Sariska Tiger Reserve during winters, the forest officials have chalked out a plan to start night patrolling. For the first time, the authorities have identified some local people who will work as informers to foil poaching attempts. The department has promised them awards on every material information. Five different teams of beat guards have been constituted and assigned specified areas in the reserve. Field director, Sariska Tiger reserve, RS Shekhawat has asked the teams to be vigilant and has selected 60 secret routes on which the teams have been asked to patrol during the night time. "We have taken a meeting of the locals and told them that whoever will give us information on the activities of the poachers would be awarded. We have also identified some persons who will work as informers and co-operate us in keeping the poachers away from the reserve," said a senior wildlife officer on Thursday. Though there has always been a scarcity of staff in the reserve as it is spread over an area of 881 kms, this year, authorities seem to be stepping up efforts to protect the wild animals from poaching. "We have divided the park into four ranges and 78 beats on which a team of almost 100 different guards will be deployed for patrolling in nights," said an official. Officials said that in winters even some villagers indulge in poaching of various wild animals for meat. "Activities such as poisoning animals are also executed during the night time. And these teams would scan the area to keep poisonous substance away from the reserve periphery," they added.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A tiger now dodges a 100 men

K. S. SUDHI A hundred men, some armed and others veterinarians specialised in use of tranquilisers on animals and Kerala Forest Department staff, are out on a hunt in areas around forests of Wayanad for a tiger, which has spread panic by lifting cattle from human settlements. The orders for the operation have been issued on Tuesday by Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala, V. Gopinathan. He and other forest department officials are camping at Wayanad to lead the operations. The movement of the animal have been plotted on maps. Three cage traps have been placed at strategic locations, and dart guns have been given to two squads for tranquilising the animal, says O.P. Kaler, Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Palakkad. Though confirming the identity of the cattle-lifter is a hurdle the team has to tackle, forest officials assume from evidences the attack on cattle was mostly by a single tiger. The analysis of pug marks reveal the animal is an adult tiger, Arun Zachariah, an expert veterinarian in the team. For tranquilising the beast, a mixture of Xylazine and Ketamin will be used. Open-darting of the animal could be a highly risky affair, as there was the possibility of the animal striking back, Mr. Zachariah says. The person, who is firing the tranquilising gun, will be protected by a gunman and a covering team to avert any possible attack. As open-darting is a precision job, extreme care needs to be taken while firing the syringe from the gun. The syringe could be deflected even by a leaf that comes in between the gun and the target. The injection would take between 10 to 15 minutes to immobilise the animal, Dr. Zachariah says. Wildlife biologist P.S. Easa says one needs to be extremely lucky for capturing animals using chemicals. Tranquilising an animal is a difficult option. The success of the caging depends on the bait used and the behaviour of the animal. In this case, the biggest challenge before the authorities is to capture the tiger without injuring it, says Dr. Easa, who is also a member of the team constituted for hunting the animal. Large team The hunt has witnessed one of the biggest mobilisations of officials in recent times for the animal which has spread widespread uproar in the district. Besides the forest officials from the district, members of the flying squad, two teams of Rapid Response Force and policemen have also been mobilised. Squads are patrolling the Kottankara, Naykatty and Muthanga areas where the animal surfaced earlier, says an official. The management of the crowd is the biggest challenge the foresters face. With the mob becoming restless and upsetting the tranquility of the area, there is the possibility of the animal panicking and becoming aggressive. Such a situation can even lead to attacks on humans, says a senior official. The animal has been photographed by the officials, who were involved in its caging earlier, the forester says. These photographs will come in handy in identifying the animal. Keywords: Forest Department, Wayanad wildlife sanctuary

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tourists back on prowl at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

D.RADHAKRISHNAN The Hindu While lifting the ban, Supreme Court ordered that tourism should not affect conservation efforts. With the situation at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) near here having been reviewed at a meeting of an ad-hoc committee held here a few days ago,it was thrown open to tourists on Tuesday. The re-opening was announced through a one line press statement issued on Tuesday by the Chief Wildlife Warden Bhagwan Singh through the Information and Public Relations Office. The Committee had been constituted on the recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in accordance with a recent directive of the Apex Court. The ban on tourism in the MTR had been imposed about four months ago by the Apex court. While lifting the ban the court had laid down certain conditions. Among other things the Court had ordered that tourism activities should not affect tiger conservation efforts. The Deputy Director,MTR A.Ameer Haja told The Hindu that on receipt of the court order steps had been taken to comply with the conditions. Stating that elephant rides,van safaris etc have resumed,he said that the forest rest house complexes like the Log House,Sylvan Lodge and Abhyaranyam have been thrown open.He added that those who had been part of the first van safari had sighted a tiger. Meanwhile those in the hospitality and travel sectors have welcomed the re-opening of the MTR.Many of them said that the closure had hit the flow of tourists. People belonging to various sections of the society in Gudalur and surroundings said that they are very relieved and added that they were hoping that the reserve would be re-opened during the Diwali weekend when there was a spurt in the inflow of tourists. However conservationists and environmentalists pointed out that the emphasis in the court order was on conservation of tigers and protection of their habitat.This should not be lost sight of by both the management of the reserve and the committee members. Keywords: Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, ad-hoc committee

Villagers block NH 212 in Wayanad

Villagers of Naikatty and Muthanga in Wayanad district block traffic on the Kozhikode-Kollegal National Highway 212 on Tuesday seeking protection from wild animal attacks. Tension prevailed at Naikatty near Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad district on Tuesday as the public blocked traffic on the Kozhikode-Kollegal National Highway 212 for the fifth consecutive day seeking protection from wild animal attacks. The protestors carried with them the carcass of cattle reportedly killed in tiger attacks the previous night. As many as six incidents of tigers killing domestic animals were reported on Monday night in Naikatty and Muthanga, places adjacent to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. So far, 18 such incidents had been reported in the district in a fortnight. Two incidents were reported from at Kannakkad, near Pazhoor, and Cheloor, near Kattikulam, under the Tholpetty forest range on Tuesday. Some villagers detained O.P. Kaler, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) for three hours at the forest inspection bungalow at Sulthan Bathery demanding the culling of the tiger. The seven-hour blockade was withdrawn after M.I. Shanavas, MP, and District Collector K. Gopalakrishna Bhatt held discussions with villagers in the presence of leaders of various political parties. They told the villagers that the animal would be trapped. Culling would be the last resort, they said. Three squads had been constituted to trap the animal. Each squad comprised eight to fifteen members, including forest veterinary surgeons, representatives of villagers, and armed forest and police personnel. This apart, a joint team of forest and police personnel would intensify patrolling round-the-clock. There would be no load-shedding in the Noolpuzha grama panchayat till the animal was caught, they said. Compensation would be provided to villagers who lost their cattle. Details of electric-fencing would be discussed at a meeting to be chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on November 30, Mr. Bhatt said. Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar had directed the transfer of S. Sreekumar, Warden, WWLS in connection with the release of a trapped tiger in the sanctuary recently. Squads, headed by Mr. Bhatt and Superintendent of Police A.V. George, could not locate the animal in the Naikatty and Kottamkara areas. The combing operation would continue, Mr. Bhatt told The Hindu. Keywords: Forest department, Wayanad wildlife sanctuary