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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Notorious tiger poacher nabbed in Sawai Madhopur

TNN | Feb 29, 2012, 01.50AM IST JAIPUR: In a major breakthrough against poaching of tigers, the flying squad of the forest department along with Tiger Watch on Monday nabbed a wanted poacher from Sawai Madhopur. He was involved in poaching of two tigers in Ranthambore and Sariska. Acting on a tip-off, a team of forest officials raided an area near Sawai Man Singh sanctuary and arrested Saalma alias Badri alias Jagdish on Monday evening. "We were on the look out for him for a long time. He is wanted in two cases of poaching of tigers and runs a gang of poachers," Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch said. The forest officials confirming arrest of the poacher added that since 2005 he was residing in and around Dumaria village in Bharatpur district of the state and Ranthambore National Park and Sariska Tiger Reserve were on his target. "Though he was keeping a low profile for the last couple of years, he is an accused in two poaching cases in 1992 and 2005," a forest official said. Tiger Watch claimed they had specific information on the whereabouts of Saalma which they shared with the forest department officials. "After efforts to locate him since morning, he was finally nabbed in the evening by our team," Sunder Sharma, assistant conservator, forest, said.

Poacher trio named, hunt on

OUR CORRESPONDENT The arrested villager with the leopard skin on Sunday Ranchi, Feb. 28: Forest officials are on the trail of three accomplices who have been named by a villager held on Saturday with the skin of a leopard they had poached in the Palamau Tiger Reserve. Amarka Singh, who was arrested while trying to strike a deal with smugglers at Satbarwa on the Jharkhand-Bihar border, has confessed that he was aided by his nephews Krishna and Chatur Singh and Rajeshwar Singh, also a relative. “During interrogation, Amarka revealed that brothers Krishna and Chatur killed the leopard. Rajeshwar was in charge of identifying buyers while Amarka was the transporter,” said divisional forest officer (core) Premjit Anand. The forest department is preparing a case against Amarka who has been sent to Latehar jail. “We will leave no stone unturned to prepare a strong case against him,” he said. Amarka told officials they (the four) were involved in poaching animals, including deer and cheetal, in the reserve for years. “They recently killed a deer and were looking for buyers. However, Amarka told us he wasn’t aware of where the skin was. We are trying to trace it,” said the DFO. The seized leopard skin was estimated to fetch more than Rs 5 lakh in the international market. The poachers trapped the animal before firing at it. “When you trap an aggressive wild animal like the leopard, there are chances of severe injuries. The skin that we recovered had the portion of a leg missing. It bore holes, which suggested that bullets had pierced the leopard’s body,” Anand said. The nails of the leopard were also missing. Forest officials suspect the nails were also sold off along with some other body parts. “Unlike the skin, nails aren’t priced high and buyers are easy to get. Nails are used in making accessories such as lockets and bracelets. These find takers, as many believe that evil spirits are kept at bay if one wears lockets made of tiger and leopard body parts,” the DFO explained. All four involved in the poaching are from Phulwari village in Palamau. Officials are keeping a close watch on the village to trace the absconding trio. As per norms, the leopard skin along with photographic evidence and the statement of Amarka have been sent to court. Once the court puts its stamp, the forest department will reclaim the skin from judicial custody and arrange for its disposal. “According to government of India rules, wildlife trophies can no longer be kept in museums. They have to be burnt or destroyed to prevent their misuse or smuggling,” Anand clarified.

Tiger conservation: Maharashtra villagers get first instalment of rehab package

PTI CHANDRAPUR (MAHARASHTRA), FEB. 29: Over 104 families from village Jamni, located inside the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in the district, received the first instalment of Rs 1 lakh, out of the total of Rs 10 lakh declared as part of their rehabilitation from the Government, a release from the District Information Office said. In order to clear the land for the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), 222 families in the village inside the TATR, have been given two options by the Government’s NTCA Rehabilitation Package. Under the first option, each family will be given Rs 10 lakh, so that people can shift and settle at any place of their choice without any further Government aid. A104 families have opted for this total cash compensation. Under the second alternative, each family would be rehabilitated by the Government, that will also provide them land in a nearby village, construct a house for them, besides giving them cash of Rs 50,000. A 114 families have opted for this, the release said. They will be relocated to Ambdi village, which is located around 30 km from their village, on the Khadsangi-Samudrapur Road in Chimur tehsil of the district. The Minister for Environment and Cultural Affairs, Mr Sanjay Deotale, distributed the cheques to the beneficiaries. Forest officials, including the Forest Secretary (Maharashtra State), Mr Praveen Pardeshi, were present on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Deotale called upon the villagers to take active part in the rehabilitation process and apprise the administration of any shortcomings so that corrective measures are incorporated during execution of the work. Mr Pardeshi said none of the eligible families from the village would be denied the compensation package. Hence, the list of beneficiaries would be verified by the Gram Sabha itself. Around four years back, the entire Botezari village and 49 families of the Kolsa village within the TATR were rehabilitated at Bhagwanpur village, during the first phase of relocation.

Forester suspects foul play

H M Aravind & G RAJENDRA, TNN | Feb 29, 2012, 12.51AM IST MYSORE/MADIKERI: The raging wildfire at Nagarahole tiger reserve has abated, even as it is seen as an act of revenge to hit out at the forest department. Fire management by officials has come into sharp focus, with wildlife activists holding them responsible for the major damage - now estimated at some 3,000 acres of forest cover destroyed - even as they agreed with the forest department that it is a man-made calamity. As PCCF (wildlife) B K Singh arrived at the tiger reserve on Tuesday, questions are being raised over the management of the national park. "There is a human element to the fire tragedy. Miscreants are at work. But there is also failure on the part of the officials in fire management," said a wildlife activist who did not wish to be named. According to the PCCF, tribals are involved. "Our investigations suggest that some tribals are involved and we'll book cases against them. They were opposing relocation out of the tiger reserve," Singh told TOI. The fire mishap occurred at Bommadahalli, where the tribals are opposing the creation of elephant-proof trenches. The forest dept is taking satellite images from Isro to assess the damage, and find out the extent of the fire. Of the seven ranges in the park stretch, spread over 643 sqkm in Mysore and Kodagu districts, four ranges were on fire, which indicates human involvement, officials said. In Nagarahole range, which forms the heart of the tiger reserve, the fire was first noticed at Marappanakere and later engulfed the area. There is a tribal colony 2km from here, and a village 5km away, the activist explained. Chances are high that those nursing a grouse against the forest staff set off the fire, and it happened in more than one place. They may have been booked for some forest offence, and started the fire out of vengeance, he added. There has been a delay in taking preventive measures to check a possible wildfire, allege some of the wildlife activists. According to them, this could have led to the fire break out. Fire lines to control wildfires are formed during December and January; and from February, when summer peaks, fire watchers are put on duty. But the PCCF countered this, saying that sometimes, drawing fire lines early becomes ineffective. Activists said that dried bamboo catch fire quickly and help it spread. Officials and environmentalists said larger animals, including big cats, will have moved to safety, but reptiles and ground nesting birds would have lost their lives. Assistant conservator of forests ( Hunsur wildlife division) K A Belliappa said the loss is yet to be estimated. "The situation is under control, though in some places, the fire is still on and the staff are trying hard to douse it. Around 120 forest staff were deputed to control the fire in all the areas," he said. "Teakwood trees have been reduced to cinders, though the total loss is yet to be estimated," he added.

Hunting in STR, a tradition?

Express News Service BARIPADA: Tribals of Mayurbhanj district are protesting the arrest of fellowmen by the forest officials for alleged illegal hunting inside the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR). They instead complain that they are being prevented from observing their age-old tradition, Akhand Sikar (mass hunting), on the pretext of wildlife protection. A tribal leader said over two dozen elephants have been killed inside the STR and their tusks stolen by professional poachers in the last two years, but the forest officials are yet to make any breakthrough in the cases. “Innocent tribals, who go hunting as part of the tradition, are often arrested and tortured. The unsuspecting tribals are branded as poachers while the real culprits go scot-free,” he charged. Recently, the forest officials led by the Deputy Director of STR and DFOs of two forest divisions - Baripada and Karanjia in Mayurbhanj district - arrested 35 tribals from STR and seized 21 guns, bows and arrows besides nearly a quintal of meat. As per the tradition, the tribals celebrate the month-long Akhand Sikar after Damodar jatra. The village priest offers a hen to the god and then suggests to them the direction to go for hunting. The tribals use traditional weapons and the hunted animals are distributed in the clan, a local Sadananda Murmu said. Baripada DFO Bijay Kumar Panda, however, said mass hunting in the name of tradition cannot be tolerated. “Earlier they would celebrate with cocks, hens and goats. Now, they are killing precious animals and the hunting is on all through the year,” he added. Meanwhile, the tribals have decided to collect� ` 300 from each household and get the arrested released on bail.

Frequent fires destroy forest land in Nilgiris

Shantha Thiagarajan, TNN | Feb 29, 2012, 06.10AM IST UDHAGAMANDALAM: Forest fires broke out in five to six areas in the Nilgiris on Monday. A series of forest fires that occurred during February, in the three forest divisions besides the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) has damaged at least 100 hectares of forest land. According to officials, most of the incidents of forest fire were man-made. Fire fighters have been deputed inside forest areas and are vigilant. As recently as Monday, a fire broke out at two or three locations at Valley View near Ooty. Fire service personnel rushed to the spots and fought the fire which was spreading rapidly due to the winds. Forest watchers and fire fighters made their way through thick jungles inside the MTR to clear the fire lines so that fire reported at the Kerala border on Monday would not spread. "A forest fire has been reported at the Keral-Nilgiris border adjoining the MTR forests. A team of fire fighters are clearing the fire line deep inside the forest area adjoining the border," said A Pushpakaran, Forest Range Officer. According to P Raghuram Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, MTR, there were a series of wild fires in the MTR forests this month. "Out of five ranges, three of them have suffered damages. However, only bushes and dry grass lands were damaged due. No tree was burnt as the fire was put out quickly. Fire patrolling work is in place in the MTR. Fire fighters along with anti-poaching watchers are combing the forest throughout the day and if any smoke is identified the fighters will attend to it immediately," Singh said. At least, eleven incidents of forest fire were reported in the North division of the Nilgiris forests since February 12. According to forest officials, the 11 incidents occurred in six ranges except in the Coonoor range in the division. Last Saturday, alone, fire broke out in Sigur, Singara and north range of the North division simultaneously damaging at least over 20 hectares. "Most of the fire incidents are man-made. It is festival season in a temple located in the Sigur range. People from various parts of the hill district visit it. Some miscreants set fire to the dry bushes in the forests," said S Ramasubramanian, District Forest Officer (North Division). According to records, at least 43.75 hectares of forest lands were damaged since February 12 in the North division. According to records, the South Division of the Nilgiris forests suffered damages due to fire at seven different places in the division since February 10. Two ranges, Ooty south range and Kundha range were damaged due to fire. On February 24 alone three incidents were reported in the division. Around 6 hectares of forest land was damaged due to wild fire, on Monday, at 'gene pool area' in the Gudalur division of the Nilgiri forests. This dry season the first fire in the Gudalur division was reported on January 14. "Around 35 incidents of wild fire in various areas in the four ranges in the Gudalur division were reported in the past one month. Only dry grass land and bushes were damaged in the fire," said a forest official. Over 50 hectares of forest land was ravaged in the fire in the Gudalur division. On February 22, MTR officials arrested two tribal men in connection with a wild fire on February 13. The fire destroyed at least 15 acres of dense forest land in the MTR. One of the spy cameras installed inside the MTR jungles helped the forest officials to nab the culprits.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fire halts safari at Nagarahole tiger reserve T

TNN | Feb 28, 2012, 12.06PM IST MYSORE: The forest fire at Nagarahole tiger reserve has put it out of bounds for tourists. The forest department on Monday banned safari in the national park even as the fire continued to rage at the park, destroying vast tracts of land. There are now concerns about the big cats as the forest fire has occurred at the critical tiger habitat of Kallahalla. A wildlife activist said the fire is raging and spreading in the tiger habitat. The forest department is suspecting the involvement of tribals in the fire. PCCF (wildlife) B K Singh told TOI that the safari has been banned. "We will review the situation and take a call on resuming the safari," he explained. Singh is visiting the tiger reserve spread over Mysore and Kodagu districts on Tuesday to take stock of the situation. He said fire has been noticed near Bommadhaadi, which, he said, is in the core area. This happened in the afternoon, after which the forest officials brought the forest fire under control. He suspects it could be an act of persons who are familiar with the forest. "Miscreants have put fire near bamboo groves to cause damage on a large scale," he stated.

Tiger poacher nabbed in Sawai Madhopur

JAIPUR: In a major breakthrough against poaching of tigers, the flying squad of the forest department along with Tiger Watch on Monday nabbed a wanted poacher from Sawai Madhopur. He was involved in poaching of two tigers in Ranthambore and Sariska. Acting on a tip-off, a team of forest officials raided an area near Sawai Man Singh sanctuary and arrested Saalma alias Badri alias Jagdish on Monday evening. "We were on the look out for him for a long time. He is wanted in two cases of poaching of tigers and runs a gang of poachers," Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch said. The forest officials confirming arrest of the poacher added that since 2005 he was residing in and around Dumaria village in Bharatpur district of the state and Ranthambore National Park and Sariska Tiger Reserve were on his target. "Though he was keeping a low profile for the last couple of years, he is an accused in two poaching cases in 1992 and 2005," a forest official said. Tiger Watch claimed they had specific information on the whereabouts of Saalma which they shared with the forest department officials.

Tadoba tourists’ cars damaged, robbed at forest gates

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Feb 28, 2012, 07.39AM IST NAGPUR: In the sort of thing which will give a bad name to tiger tourism, two vehicles of tourists were badly damaged and the valuables inside stolen at Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve's (TATR) Navegaon (Ramdegi) gate on Saturday. Chimur police have arrested Dashrath Chouke, the accused and a habitual offender, from Navegaon village near the gate. He has been remanded to police custody till March 2. But, no action has been taken against forest guard RM Vankar whose role seems to be suspicious in the entire episode. Narrating the harrowing experience, Aakash Gupta, a city lawyer and son of leading lawyer Avinash Gupta, said that he had gone to Tadoba with his family through Navegaon gate on Saturday afternoon. Before entering the park for a round in a Gypsy, he had parked his Innova near the gate, as told by Vankar. Two other tourists including a wildlife photographer Ravi Naidu and his colleague Vijay Sardesai from Hyderabad had also parked their car near Gupta's vehicle. When Gupta and Naidu returned after the excursion at 6.30pm, they found the front and side windscreens of their cars smashed and the valuables and cash stolen. "My suitcase and Rs 7,000 cash were was missing. Naidu's laptop and three bags, one having Rs 10,000, were also missing. The culprit had deflated the front tyres of both cars," said Gupta. When Gupta and Naidu went to the village, they were told by some villagers that it might be the handiwork of Chouke. Both went to Chouke's home and found the stolen material in his house. "When I talked to Vankar, he pleaded ignorance. He was very rude and told us that he was not responsible for what happens outside the gate," alleged Gupta. Gupta later called up Chimur police. When police reached the spot, Vankar was conspicuous by his absence. Cops quizzed Chouke and seized the material that was hidden in a drum. Police failed to recover the cash. Chimur PI Panjabrao Madavi admitted that Vankar's role is suspicious. "It was his moral responsibility to protect tourists' vehicles. When the incident came to light, it should have been informed to senior officials through wireless. The incident should have also been recorded in the logbook. We have issued a notice to Vankar to remain present for an inquiry on Tuesday," said Madavi. A query sent via e-mail to V K Sinha, field director of TATR, was not immediately answered. A message in this regard was also left with his steno in the afternoon.

Now man-tiger conflict on the anvil

By: Jagdish Bhatt Dehradun : Uttarakhand is already facing massive man-elephant conflict as the corridors meant for the migration of the pachyderms have been lost to rampant and illegal constructions. It appears to now be heading for a tiger-man conflict as rampant constructions threaten to close the corridors of migration for the felines in the Corbett National Park area, which the home of the tigers. Informed sources told the Hill Post that about 100 hotels and resorts had been constructed in and around the Corbett National Park. The tragedy was the constructions had gone ahead without taking a no objection certificate (NOC) from the forest department, which is considered essential for construction in the area. How did the concerned authorities sanction the maps for the resorts or hotels, is anyone’s guess. While admitting that the major reason for the hotels and resorts coming up in the region was to attract tourists to the Park, they said that the ecological constraints of the region, the rights of the local residents and the damage to the tiger corridors should also have been taken into consideration before plans for the hotels and resorts were sanctioned by the concerned authorities. They said that during the past few years there had been an increase in poaching activities in the region and one could rule out the involvement of staff and management of the hotels and resorts in the illegal practice. It is not only herbivores used for the pot that are being killed but even leopards and tigers are falling to poachers who then sell the bones and hides to smugglers. Sources said that while the administration was closing its eyes to the number of resorts and hotels opening up in the region, a plan was being evolved to remove the van gujjars, who have been living in these forests for generations, from the Corbett Park area, as they were now being considered a danger to preservation of wild life in the Park.

Tiger leaves trail, gives tormentors the slip

TUESDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2012 00:34 MOUSHUMI BASU | NEW DELHI Pugmarks, rumours, 20 forest men, and a desperate tiger on the move have been the talking point at the Central Tropical Institute of Horticulture, about 15 kms from Lucknow, under Awadh Forest Division, in Uttar Pradesh for nearly two months. This has all the elements of a thriller, which is keeping elephant trackers and forest staff on their toes. The tiger continues to elude them all, and so far efforts to tranquilise the big cat have come a cropper. With the area just about 10-12 kms away from a busy railway track, the tiger is giving the forest department sleepless nights. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is, however, yet to be invited to tackle the big cat. Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) Mohammad Ehsaan said, “The tiger seems very comfortable in the area, which is ideal for its habitat with dense scrubland, water bodies and blue bulls.” He said that pugmarks are being regularly observed to track its presence in the area. Fortunately, it has not ventured out and there has been no attack on humans so far, he added. He, however, claimed that no shikari or hunter had been brought to fell the tiger. National Tiger Conservation Authority Deputy Director SP Yadav, who had earlier shot a letter to the CWW against the elimination of the tiger, pointed out, “The operation should be conducted in a very low profile manner.” DFO Awadh Ashok Mishra added, “Our aim is either to cage the tiger or tranquilise it. But this is turning to be a tough task, because, there are thorny lantana bushes as high as10-12 feet high, giving the tiger a natural cover. The high bushes, obstructs the view for using the tranquilising gun,” he said, adding no order to shoot the tiger had been issued as the Big Cat had not harmed any human. He said two camouflaged cages had been laid to lure the tiger. The four-year-old tiger has been roaming inside the 400-acre farm of the Central Subtropical Horticulture Institute of the Union Agriculture Ministry at Rahmankheda, since the first week of January. It had entered the campus from the nearby Pilibhit forest, following the course of River Gomti running across the forest.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Experts suggest ways to trap elusive tiger

TNN | Feb 27, 2012, 02.47AM IST LUCKNOW: The stray tiger loitering in Rahmankhera for past two months has become accustomed to the forest and this has made it difficult to track it. On Sunday, wildlife experts visited the Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) campus and suggested ways to the forest officers to trap the big cat. "We suggested that a bait be put at one place, and that place should be within the range of tranquilising experts," said wildlife expert Kaushlendra Singh. The patch of the forest in Rahmankhera, where the tiger is currently hiding, has lot of scrub forest. There have been occasions when the darts fired by the forest team missed the tiger. The stray tiger of Rahmankhera made it's presence felt, in the area, three days back. It made a kill. "But, with changing weather, it might change its movement," said Sanjay Narayan, secretary, Tiger and Terrain. The experts also suggested that the rough and hard ground, at Rahmankhera forest, be levelled, so that, it becomes easier to get clear pugmarks, and tracking team could know which direction has tiger gone. The tiger, so far, hasn't ventured out of the forest area, to near-by localities. The big cat is completely localised in Rahmankhera. And, one main reason behind is the fact that it is a perfect habitat, with lot of prey-base, dense forest patch and water also available, in the vicinity. All through its stay, in Rahmankhera, it hasn't attacked any human. And, this is one reason, why trapping the feline safely becomes important. The forest department has set up enclosures at some new locations also, and a bait is being tied to lure the tiger almost regularly. But, it has not helped so far. The experts, who visited the spot, on Sunday, also suggested to erect poles, in the area, where tranquilising experts sit, and put a switch, that may automatically get on, as soon as the dart is fired. This will make it easy to see the tiger, during evening. Meanwhile, some foreign organizations have also evinced interest in helping the forest department to trap the tiger. The stray tiger of Rahmankhera made it's presence felt, in the area, three days back. It made a kill. The tiger, so far, hasn't ventured out of the forest area, to near-by localities. The big cat is completely localised in Rahmankhera.

The fire of concern The fire of concern

K Shivakumar MYSORE: The forest fire incidents reported from Bandipur and some small patches at Nagarhole Tiger Reserve recently have become an issue of great concern both for the forest officials and the environmentalists. It is feared that these incidents would lead to a scarcity of elephant food in the years to come as the bamboo, which had germinated very well in last two years in most parts of the Western Ghats, would be destroyed. The ground fire and destroying of bamboo plants would be a bane for more than in 3,000 elephants, including 1,500 elephants in Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks. Some forest fires are accidental, but many are lit by the miscreants, a few vengeful local tribes and poachers who are booked in the timber smuggling or poaching cases, it is learnt. However, the reason for the forest fire in Kalkere falling in the core areas spread across 900 sq kms in Bandipur National Park, is yet to be ascertained. � This summer, particularly the next two months, would turn out to be the most challenging task for the forest officials as the mischief mongers will take advantage of the dry spell to settle scores with the forest personnel, if they have any, it is said. Generally, the forest officials are supposed to notice fire in every 10 kms in forest areas and the check the spread of fire. In Nagarahole alone, more than 12 incidents of forest fire took place at Veeranahosahalli, Mettikuppe and Anthara Santhe areas. Barring in one or two places, the forest personnel, along with temporary watchers from local haadis, controlled the spread of fire within two hours recently. However, the high wind and the dried up bamboo bushes have become a worry for them. They have to struggle hard to control the fire as the flames spread wildly inside the forest. Recently, some forest fire cases were reported during Shivaratri as the locals had gone to offer puja in the fringe areas of the forest. The weekends are another concern as many of them working in coffee estates return to their haadi and enjoy their stay. Miscreants sometimes set fire to elephant dung inside the forest. The fire catches up slowly and they escape from the woods. The Forest Department, with around 300 staff, including 18 members from Special Tiger Protection Force. There are 400 temporary guards deputed around the clock in� watchtowers spread in 643 sq kms with a boundary of 256 kms to observe animal movements, smoke and pass on information to the officials through wire sets. A national park needs sufficient manpower to handle the situation, guard the forest, wild life and resources. The department has kept a tight vigil on the movement of the miscreants who spread rumours in and the forest areas. The density of elephants and other animals has increased following the increase in the levels of Kabini backwaters. At Nagarhole Park, there are more than 70 tigers and a phenomenal increase in the siting of leopards. The department has also banned illegal fishing in backwaters and tourists from smoking.� People prefer estate work over jobs in forest: DFO Nagarhole DFO Vijayaranjan Singh said, “We have deployed additional men and vehicles to control the fire and rush to spots based on the information.”� He said that the ground level staff fighting fire are given food, water and a wage of `167. “But they are interested to work in coffee estates as they can earn `300 per day,” he observed adding that they need more ground level staff to notice and check the forest fires when such incidents are simultaneously reported from five or six places.��

Seized leopard skin bares Palamau peril

A.S.R.P. MUKESH Poaching pawn: Amarka Singh, arrested for trying to smuggle out a leopard skin, confesses before DFO (buffer) AK Mishra on Sunday. Picture by Saikat Chatterjee Ranchi, Feb. 26: A leopard skin — roughly estimated to fetch over Rs 5 lakh in the international market — was seized from Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR) on Saturday, nearly two months after forest officials got wind of poaching in the forest and laid a trap. A villager, who was trying to strike a deal with an interstate gang of smugglers at Satbarwa on Jharkhand-Bihar border, has also been arrested. Amarka Singh (58), a native of Phulwari village in Palamau, has been charged under Section 52 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Forest officials said this was the first big seizure in more than a decade. In 1995, a tiger skin smuggling racket had been busted at the reserve. PTR divisional forest officer (buffer area) A.K. Mishra confirmed that they had been on the leopard poaching case for some eight weeks. “A couple of months ago, our informers tipped us off. However, we didn’t have authentic information on the place of poaching and people behind it. So, we decided to keep an eye on the reserve and also porous border areas,” Mishra said. Some time later, they managed to zero in on Singh who was stocking the skin. “The culprit was looking for buyers. We didn’t arrest him immediately because we wanted to seize the skin too,” he added. Divisional forest officer (core area) Premjit Anand said on Friday they learnt that a deal was to take place at Pochi village in Satbarwa. “Dressed like villagers, our raid team including rangers reached the spot early on Saturday morning and fanned out to every nook and corner of the area. Around 1pm, few vehicles without numberplates arrived at a nearby dhaba. The negotiation took place for two hours and the deal was settled for Rs 70,000. When the seller (Singh) went to get the skin, we followed and nabbed him,” Anand said. Mishra conceded that it was a conscious decision to trap only the seller. “Initially, we were a little confused about who to target. But then we decided to arrest the seller. If there is no one to sell, there will be no one to buy,” he said. Forest officials are interrogating Singh who is known to have revealed names of three accomplices. “The racket works like a chain. One person kills, second transports, third stocks, fourth sells and so on and so forth. We hope to reach the last link soon,” Mishra added. Currently, the reserve has some 80 leopards compared to more than 100 a decade ago. Admitting presence of poachers, DFO Anand said they were planning to shuffle routes of trackers (forest employees who monitor wildlife by tracking animal routes) to check the menace. “Normally, a tracker is asked to monitor the same route for four to five years. So, he may get involved with local residents (read poachers). We are now planning to revise our strategy and change their routes from time to time so that they don’t become part of any nexus,” he said. Apart from this, the forest guardians also plan to deploy 20 home guard jawans at check posts and forest pickets for frisking visitors. A senior official at Palamau reserve also pitched for young trackers. “Most trackers are over 50 years of age. They are unable to monitor the forests efficiently. Besides infrastructure development, the government should also work out special package for forest protection,” he said.

Tiger census begins in Kaziranga

TNN Feb 24, 2012, 10.23PM IST West Bengal|The National|Rajiv Gandhi|Assam JORHAT: The tiger census of Kaziranga National Park began on Friday in all its four forest ranges - Kohora, Bagori, Agoratoli and Burhapahar. "We have started tiger monitoring in all the four ranges of Kaziranga. The operation will take about 45 days to complete. Like previous years, we are using the camera trapping method to conduct the operation. Hundred such cameras have already been installed in the park," Surajit Dutta, the park director, said. He added, "The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has sanctioned Rs 20 lakh to conduct the census in the park. We have engaged two biodiversity conservation societies and a group of researchers and scholars to complete the project within the stipulated time." A wildlife research official of Kaziranga will supervise the operation in all the forest ranges. According to the latest NTCA report - 'Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey in India, 2010' - Kaziranga tiger reserve is in the fourth position after Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. Kaziranga's density is 15.92 tigers per 100 sq km. Bandhavgarh's is 16.25 tigers per 100 sq km. Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park, on the northern bank of Brahmaputra in Assam, has the second highest tiger density in the country after Corbett Tiger Reserve. Tiger density in Orang is of 17.68 per 100 sq km, while Corbett has a density of 17.83 tigers per 100 sq km. According to the national tiger census in 2010, results released by the MoEF, the northeast, covering the hilly states, Brahmaputra floodplains and the northern part of West Bengal, is home to an estimated 148 tigers with the upper and lower limits hovering between 178 and 118 respectively. Of this, Assam has the highest number of tigers - 143 - according to the census. Mizoram has five, while Arunachal Pradesh was not included in the census operation. The region itself, according to the 2010 census, showed a considerable increase in its tiger population as compared to Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India's 2008 report. According to the earlier report, Assam had 70 tigers, Mizoram had six and northern West Bengal had 10. Kaziranga was formally declared a tiger reserve in 2006. The government launched 'Project Tiger' here in 2007. The park lost four tigers in December last year. Police gunned down one tiger while another one was poisoned to death by miscreants and two died in territorial fights.

Survey of tiger reserves to check corridors for movement

By: Jagdish Bhatt Dehradun : Taking cognisance of the fact that the elephant problem in Uttarakhand had reached jumbo proportions because the forest corridors used by the pachyderms for migration had been lost to construction and developmental projects, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) intends getting a satellite survey done of all the 41 tiger reserves in the country to check the corridors that may have been lost due to construction activity. The survey will be undertaken by the Forest Survey of India some time in the middle of this year. The main purpose of it will be to check whether the corridors that were in the forest divisions of the tiger reserves for the movement of the felines are still in tact, or they have been lost to the rampant construction that is taking place in and around these resorts. Informed sources said that it had been brought to the notice of the NTCA that rampant construction had been done within and in the periphery of the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand , which had witnessed a considerable increase in the number of tigers over the past few years. The construction, of resorts in particular, was of all the more concern as they were coming up without due sanction from the forest authorities and were a threat to the wildlife in the region, they claimed. They said that a survey had been done of the tiger population in the country in 2010, which had shown a healthy trend that there was an increase of almost 300 in the feline population in the country. But was damning was the fact that the survey also indicated that there was decline in the area of the tiger habitat, which meant little space for the felines, which are territorial animals. Sources said that the survey would focus on what is the exact area of forest cover in the tiger reserves of the country and taking the feline numbers is it adequate to meet their territorial and other requirements; what are the changes that have taken place in the tiger reserves during the past two decades and how many corridors in these reserves have been lost and for what reasons. They said that it was a matter of great concern that not only the population but activity in and around the tiger reserves was also on the rise which would affect the tiger conservation programme over the years. A large number of efforts have been put in the tiger conservation project in the past few years, and these are showing positive results, but the good work was in for a setback due to human activity in and around the reserves, they contended. It may be mentioned here, that because of the forest corridors which were used by the elephant herds for migration in the Uttarakhand forests having been lost to development activities and rampant construction over the years, having been lost, the pachyderms were confined in pockets forcing them into direct conflict with man. A recent study undertaken by the Wildlife Institute of India indicated that elephant-man conflict in Uttarakhand had increased manifold after 2001 and the pachyderms had killed 95 persons and injured another 65 during this period. There was also an increase in the number of incidents of wild herds entering agricultural fields and destroying the crops, because of which there were occasions when villagers also killed some elephants.

Project Tiger dharna still on

TNN Feb 23, 2012, 11.10PM IST DALTONGANJ: Jharkhand Van Shramik Union members, who are on dharna since February 9 on the premises of Project Tiger office, were disappointed when local MP Kameshwar Baitha did not turn up despite assurance. Union president Sidhnath Jha said, "The MP had given us a word that he will come up and then take up this issue with the field director of Project Tiger on Wednesday. But we kept on waiting for the whole day and nobody turned up." Sources said the ongoing stir of daily wagers of PTR got a big jolt as the MP did not come to share their woes. Sources close to Baitha said, "The MP had a talk with the field director, SEH Kazmi, and took stock of the situation." There are 157 van shramiks, who are on indefinite strike since February 9. The van shramiks are daily wage earners. The agitation is for payment of wages due to these van shramiks since September 2011. The other demand is restoration of three daily wagers, whom DFO Anil Mishra had removed. One of the three dismissed from service is the union's state president Sidh Nath Jha. Jha said agitation would not be withdrawn till the DFO revokes his decision. On the other hand, DFO Mishra said, "There could not be any rollback. Jha does not work as a daily wage earner in PTR. So where is the question of payment of his daily wages?" tnn The other two - Green Ram and Mukut Stephen Tirkey - are facing corruption charges, added Mishra.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Elusive tiger forces Shikari to change tactic

J. S. IFTHEKHAR The Hindu Hyderabadi shikari Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, tailing the tiger in the Rehmankheda CISH campus in Awadh Forest Division, Lucknow. The Hyderabadi ‘shikari' is back home after 10 days of nerve wracking time tailing the ferocious tiger in Awadh forest division – just 15 kms from Lucknow. Nawab Shafat Ali Khan has not succeeded in tranquilising the tiger which strayed in the CISH campus in Rehmankheda but the techniques adopted by him have brightened the chances of taming the feline. In the wee hours of Wednesday the tiger killed yet another bait, a buffalo calf, the sixth so far but escaped before it could be tranquilised. A nocturnal animal, the tiger is venturing out only in the night posing a challenge to the tranquilising team. “The thick bushes make it worse for precision shooting. Even a blade of grass can deflect the fired syringe”, says Mr. Khan who rushed back Tuesday night to see his ailing mother. In a change of tactic, he has introduced a plastic chair in place of a ‘machan' to keep a vigil. The chair can be placed atop a tree in just five minutes while a ‘machan' takes an hour to erect. “The chances of the tiger not getting disturbed and coming back to get the kill are bright now”, says Mr. Khan. Another new methodology adopted is to place the bait early in the morning to lure the tiger when it is relatively easy to fire the tranquilising gun. Till now the four member wildlife team used to set the bait in the afternoon and wait till evening in vain. An important breakthrough in the 40-day operation is zeroing in on the tiger's pugmark. Its study showed that it is a male tiger of 5 years with a weight roughly between 160 to 170 kg. “This is an important data to calculate the right dose of drug to tranquilise it. A greater dose might prove fatal and a lesser one ineffective”, says Mr. Khan who knows all about wildlife. He is aware of the objections being raised in wildlife circles about requisitioning the services of a hunter to tame the tiger. But he feels a professional huntsman is necessary as an ‘emergency backup'. Not necessary that the ‘shikari' will shoot the animal. “He can fire a shot in the air or on the ground just before a charging tiger to stop it”, says Mr. Khan. Importantly, the team has succeeded in keeping the tiger from straying into Lucknow and throwing the election process haywire. Election over, Mr. Khan plans to join the operation next week.

Now, monkey-catcher on tiger trail in Rahmankhera

TNN | Feb 23, 2012, 09.42AM IST LUCKNOW: After repeated failures to trap the fugitive tiger in Rahmankhera, forest officers have now roped-in a monkey-catcher in the hope that he will accomplish the mission. The helplessness and desperation of the officials can be gauged from the fact that the man has been given the powers of an officer. This, however, has annoyed the staff who are already on the tiger trail, sources said. Surprisingly, chief wildlife warden Mohammad Ehsan feigned ignorance about the monkey-catcher. Perhaps the staff and officers from Awadh have engaged the monkey-catcher, who on several occasions has mounted the elephant to track the big cats. The man was also the part of the operation to track the maneating tigress in Faizabad in 2008. The tigress was finally shot at by a hunter whom the forest department had called then. "There is no role of a monkey-catcher in tiger-tracking at all," said GC Mishra, former director, Dudhwa. It's difficult for anybody to explain, what a monkey-catcher was doing at a place, where forest officers, have not even allowed the wildlife experts to venture. The officers maintain that presence of a 'commoner' might disturb the tiger, and it can change location. In what way is monkeycatcher, not a 'commoner', is hard to understand. It was on January 8 that presence of the tiger was reported and confirmed at Rahmankhera. It's been more than a month that officers are tracking the tiger at Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH), in Rahmankhera, without any breakthrough. "The man is registered as a monkey-catcher with the department. He is also called in, when monkey menace is reported," said sources. While, the department has allowed him to be a part of the operation, there are several organizations from outside, which have expressed their desire to help forest department safely trap the tiger. "A wildlife organization from Australia has evinced interest in trapping the tiger, but that's not possible without the permission of the department," said Kaushlendra Singh, a wildlife enthusiast. However, the forest department might not be very keen on allowing the outsiders, to be a part of the operation. Nobody apart from the forest department officers and WTI team has the access to the premise of CISH, where enclosures and 'machan' have been set up to track and trap the tiger.

Need to expand Corbett ‘buffer zone' in focus

TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2012 23:29 PARITOSH KIMOTHI | DEHRADUN HITS: 125 The latest death of a tiger in a territorial fight has once again brought focus on the need for expanding the area under the purview of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The Ministry of Environment and Forests had recommended that parts of the Ramnagar and Lansdowne forest divisions should be included in the buffer zone of Corbett, but the State Government is adamant that this will be facilitated only after the Union Government facilitates construction of the Kandi road which passes through the Corbett and Sonanadi wildlife sanctuary and links Garhwal with Kumaon. The Corbett National Park covers about 521 sq km and together with Sonanadi wildlife sanctuary and reserve forest areas, forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve spread across 1288.31 sq km. As per the latest census, there are at least 214 tigers in this landscape and with officials counting at least 40 cubs last year, the population is expected to rise further if conditions remain conducive. At least two tigers have died in turf war since 2011 which has brought back the focus on the need for increasing the protected area. According to Corbett field director Ranjan Mishra expanding the buffer zone of Corbett will bring these areas under the purview of funds received from the National Tiger Conservation Authority. “There will be territorial fights between tigers, but increasing the buffer zone area will provide them more protected space to roam and to hunt in which will decrease the likelihood of turf wars among the stripped felines. This will also help in improving the protection of wildlife and environment in areas added to the buffer zone which will benefit not only the tiger, but all wildlife. Apart from this, the betterment of wildlife will directly benefit the people living in the region with increased tourism,” said Mishra. The State Forest and Environment Advisory Committee vice chairman Anil Baluni said that the State, too, is willing to expand the area of Corbett tiger reserve, but only if the Union Government also takes cognisance of the needs of the people of Uttarakhand. He alleged that the Union Government has claimed much and done little. “Last year, the then minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, had announced that `65 crore was allocated for relocation of people living in Sunderkhal village in Corbett, but so far the State has not received a single rupee. We requested the NTCA member secretary Rajesh Gopal several times to inspect the area to be affected by construction of the Kandi road, but he has not done so. Tigers and wildlife has been conserved and their status is improving in Uttarakhand due to the efforts of the State authorities and people and not due to the policies made by officials in Delhi, so it is vital to ensure that the interests of people are also considered,” said Baluni.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tribals spot danger in tiger reserve plan

K A Shaji, TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 06.56AM IST COIMBATORE: While pressure is mounting on the state government to declare the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve, there is mounting resentment among tribals living on the forest fringes, against attempts of the forest department to curb access to the jungles to collect forest produce and graze cattle. Forest officials have already directed them to sell their cattle and look for alternative means of livelihood. Irked by the move, over 10,000 tribal residents of Thalavadi, Thiganare, Thinkalur, Panakkalli, Naithalpuram, Igalur, Thalamalai, Bainapuram, Hassanur and Germalam village panchayats have rallied behind Pazhamkudi Makkal Sanghom, a tribal outfit supported by CPI, that plans to organize a series of agitations in this regard. "These tribals are the most neglected in the state. Their rights over the forests were curtailed long ago due to the Veerappan crisis. After the encounter death of Veerappan, the forest department had constituted several tribal forest protection committees and they functioned well, collecting and selling minor forest produce till now. Twenty seven such bodies had together made a profit of Rs 64 Lakh in the last few years. Now the committees are in crisis as the forest authorities have denied them access to the forests as it is a tiger reserve,'' says P L Sundaram, MLA of Bhavani Sagar Constituency. "We were the pride of the forest department till they mooted the tiger reserve project with the support of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. We depend entirely on live stock and there is no land for us to graze them. The department is now forcing us to sell our goats and cows,'' says Pazhamkudi Makkal leader P Dorai. According to tribals, the forest department has told them to engage in lending of shamianas and crockery for marriage celebrations. The department has promised them funds to buy the infrastructure for the lending business. "Other than rearing cattle and collecting forest produce, we know no other means of livelihood. Some of us cultivate raggi, makkacholam and gingelly we are at the mercy of wild animals. As there is no irrigation water available, we are not able to cultivate the more profitable sugarcane, plantain and water melon,'' says M Mahadevan, a Soliga tribal of Alapurdoddi tribal hamlet. "We are not against tigers or any other wild animals. But denying tribals their right to depend on the forests is beyond logic. I will take it up with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaaa,'' says Sundaram. Traditionally, tribals collect honey and gooseberry from the forests. "Such decisions should not be made unilaterally and forest protection must not be at the expense of tribals. The move is a clear violation of forest rights act,'' says C R Bijoy, a Coimbatore-based activist. Erode Forest Conservator D Arun confirmed when contacted that there would be restrictions on entering the forests after they are declared a Tiger reserve. He said the department strongly recommends the tribal folk to take up alternative means of livelihood. We were the pride of the forest department till they mooted the tiger reserve project.We depend entirely on live stock and there is no land for us to graze them. The department is now forcing us to sell our goats and cows

Little talk, no action at tiger cell meet

TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 05.41AM IST NAGPUR: The 12th regional tiger cell meeting held in the city after a gap of nine months on Tuesday turned out to be another ritual and ended without taking any significant decision. Looking at the spurt in wildlife crime in the region, it was expected that the meeting would take some concrete steps. Sources said most of the time was spent on reading the minutes of the last meeting by member-secretary and deputy conservator of forests P K Mahajan. Thereafter, the meeting ended in five minutes. Mahajan was not available for comments. The members did not discuss strategy to tackle issues like illegal fishing in Pench, poaching, pending wildlife crime cases, protection etc. The special IGP, who is the chairman of the cell, assured all help to the forest department. This assurance had been given by earlier officers too. "The meeting was mere a formality," said forest officials who attended. The NGOs too were not happy. "It is really pathetic," they said. The regional tiger cell comprises Bhandara, Gondia, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Nagpur and Chandrapur districts. The superintendents of police (SPs) of these district are members but not one attended. This was true for forest officials too. Even the MSEDCL officials, who can play key role in tackling poaching through electrocution, were missing. Barring field directors of Pench and Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) and chief conservator of forests (CCF) of vulnerable Chandrapur Circle, no senior officer was present. Divisional forest officer (DFO) for vigilance explained how the anti-poaching squad was active and booked several persons for selling parakeets.

Kelzar villagers live under fear of tiger

TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 05.05AM IST WARDHA: The villagers of Kelzar are a harried lot as their cattle are being killed by tigers. On Monday night a tiger killed two cows of Madhukar Sahare. These cows were tied to poles in the cowshed yet the tiger attacked them. Sahare's home is at the end of Kelzar village and just adjacent to the cow shed there is a nullah. In a desperate bid the two cows broke their chain and entered into the farm of Vasantrao Sontakke. However, the tiger overpowered the cows in the farm and during the act Sontakke's farm, wherein wheat and maize was sowed, was destroyed. Villagers said that tigers come to the nullah to drink water as there is shortage of water in nearby jungle. The forest department should make a water holes for the tigers in the forest. Ashish Goswami, the district president of people for animals organization, said that the forest department and villagers should make a committee to conserve the wild life; the earlier committees of the villagers are inactive. The problems can not be solved without the villagers help. Wardha DFO said, "Kelzar is near Bor sanctuary. When the tigers come out of it in search of water and prey they attack the villagers and their cattle." About the water scenario in forest, he said, "We are trying to make water available in the forest area. Recently we created some waterholes and hand pumps were installed. There are quite a few nullahs in the forest and those haven't dried up but still we are trying to fill these artificial waterholes so that the wild animals have plenty of water to drink in summer season."

Madhya Pradesh government backs tourism in tiger reserves

By TBM Staff | Mumbai Making a pitch for tourism in tiger reserves, the Madhya Pradesh government has told the Supreme Court that people living in reserves pose more danger to the big cats since both compete for the same resources. The state told the court that tourism does not exploit resources on which wildlife depends for survival and propagation, and can’t be kept in the same category as other human activities. As the hearing on a PIL seeking a ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves enters a crucial phase, the state has stuck to its stand that runs contrary to the position of the NTCA and the Centre that says core areas are meant to be kept inviolate. The Wildlife Trust of India has also backed activist Ajay Dubey’s plea, saying there is no control over hotels and resorts around the reserves. The government argued that states have allowed tourism in core areas by developing necessary safeguards to regulate tourism and minimise the adverse impact on the habitat. It claimed that reserves where tourism has been allowed for the past 40 years continue to support highest wildlife densities, as per an Indian Express report by Milind Ghatwai. It also argued that buffer areas don’t get the same level of legal protection as core areas and will never be able to satisfy the visitors due to a lack of “high density of wild animals and pristine wilderness’’. Also, local communities are given the rights over forests in buffer areas. “The court’s decision is likely to have national and international implications on wildlife as well as people and businesses dependent on wildlife tourism,” the state’s affidavit said, requesting the court to hear all states and UTs before passing any order. Those opposed to tourism told the court that allowing it will further the sense of injustice among local people who will think that while they are being driven out, the rich are being let in.

3 cubs spotted in Ranthambore tiger reserve

TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 03.40AM IST JAIPUR: Spotting of three cubs comes as good news for the Ranthambore tiger reserve. At least three cubs were reportedly seen in the Khandar range of the forest by one of the forest 'mitras'. "One of the forest guards spotted three cubs. The cubs, according to him, are of the tigress T-30 in the Khandar area. But we are yet to confirm it. Trap cameras have been set up in the area to captures pictures of the tigress and her cubs," chief wildlife warden A Choubey said. "The area has been cordoned off and we are hopeful of capturing pictures of the cub soon." Rajesh Gupta, additional director of the park, said. The park has been seeing a baby boom since the past year when 17 cubs were born. However, officials warned that all the cubs are not alive still. Out of the 17 cubs, two have not been spotted in the recent days. "The number of cubs in the past year was very good but we may soon see some migration when they become sub-adults," warned Choubey.

Tiger found dead

PTI | 08:02 PM,Feb 21,2012 Kotdwara, Feb 21 (PTI) A five-year-old male tiger, apparently killed by another wild cat, was found dead in the Corbett Tiger Reserve, forest officials said here today. The half-eaten carcass was found yesterday in Sona river in Dhaulkhand range by a patrol party, they said. Deep wounds caused by nails and canine teeth were found on the carcass indicating the animal was killed in a fierce fight with another tiger, the officials said. Pug marks of another tiger were also found, they said. Some hair of a tiger were also found in the paws of the dead animal indicating a fight. PTI CORR DPT PMS

Hurdles galore for central funds to reach PTR

TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 06.23AM IST DALTONGANJ: Cash-starved Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) has taken a loan of Rs 49.66 lakh from the authorities of Birsa Biological Park and the State Forest Development Corporation. Principal chief conservator of forest-cum-chief wildlife warden A K Malhotra said, "I am in favour of setting up a Tiger Foundation in the state where funds will be received directly from the National Tiger Conservation Authority of Delhi. However, there are some obstacles like lack of notification of the buffer area spreading over more than 700 sq km of the 1,026-sq km of PTR and sanctioning of the tiger conservation plan." Malhotra hoped these would be sorted out soon and there would be no dearth of funds in the future. The DFO (buffer) said the loans will have to be returned by the end of this financial year as soon as funds arrive from the NTCA. Sources said NTCA has sent more than Rs 1 crore for PTR to the state government but it has not been released yet.

Experiment explains how tiger stripes are formed

London: Validating a theory famous code-breaker and mathematician Alan Turing put forth in 1950s, researchers at King's College London have provided the first experimental evidence to show how tiger stripes or leopard spots are formed. Turing had proposed that regular repeating patterns in biological systems are generated by a pair of morphogens that work together as an 'activator' and 'inhibitor,' the journal 'Nature Genetics' reports. To test the theory, researchers studied the development of the regularly-spaced ridges found in the roof of the mouth in mice, according to a King's College statement. Experimentation with mouse embryos helped the team identify the pair of specific morphogens working together to influence where each ridge will be formed. They showed that the increasing or decreasing activity of morphogens affects the pattern of the ridges in the mouth palate, in ways predicted by Turing's equations. Jeremy Green, craniofacial surgeon from King's Dental Institute said: "Regularly spaced structures, from vertebrae and hair follicles to the stripes on a tiger or zebrafish, are a fundamental motif in biology. Our study provides the first experimental identification of an activator-inhibitor system at work in the generation of stripes - in this case, in the ridges of the mouth palate." "As this year marks Turing's centenary, it is a fitting tribute to this great mathematician and computer scientist that we should now be able to prove that his theory was right all along!" concluded Green.

Tuli's construction work stalled near TATR

TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 04.51AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Forest department has started investigation into the construction started by hotelier Prince Tuli near Moharli village close to core area of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. Notice has been served to Tuli, through his caretaker of the land in Moharli, asking him to present the documents related to necessary permission for construction in buffer area. The issue had come to fore after conservationists crying foul over the construction lodged complaint with TATR authorities last week. Complainant Green Planet Society had demanded not to allow any resort close to core area as it could threaten the wildlife and environment. A visit to the place revealed that the land in question is indeed adjacent to compartment no.150 and 151 of TATR. Vast patch of this land gets water lodged in rainy season with the spill over water of Moharli pond. Dense grass on the land was cut and burned recently. Scats of tiger, spotted deer, sambar, neelgai and wild boar were found in the area, suggesting that these animals keep moving from the particular patch of land. Sarpanch of Moharli Vilas Shende confirmed that Nagpur businessman Tuli had purchased over 17 acres of agricultural land from group of farmers adjacent to TATR boundary. "Tuli has indeed purchased land from handful of farmers of the village. But he has sought no permission from gram panchayat for construction. Panchayat would issue notice and seek explanation in this regard," he said. RFO, Moharli range (territorial), DS Rautkar informed that they have started inquiry into the matter. "Already a notice has been forwarded to Tuli asking him to present necessary documents related to permission of construction before CCF of tiger reserve. As per our information owner has not acquired any permission for non-agriculture use of the land. Records of land purchased by Tuli are being sought from gram panchayat and other revenue authorities," he said. He however maintained that construction in the particular land has been stalled since intervention of forest authorities. Partial construction carried out on the land owned by Prince Tuli near in buffer area of TATR

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two direct tiger sightings in Melghat during census

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Feb 21, 2012, 06.27AM IST NAGPUR: Tigers are always elusive in Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR), fondly called 'Kipling Country'. But two direct sightings during the nine-day Phase IV tiger estimation exercise has thrilled field staff and officials. This may be perhaps the first time such sightings have been recorded during the census. The exercise on distance sampling to know density of ungulates through line transects concluded on Sunday. It started on February 10 and was conducted in over 6,250 beats in protected as well as non-protected areas in state, including tiger-bearing patches in Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM). Now, exercise to know 'proportions of animals captured' with the help of camera traps will start in March and will continue for 45-60 days. Melghat, known for its mystifying landscape with high hills and deep valleys, revealed clinching evidence of carnivores like pugmarks, scrapes and scent marks, scats etc. Field staff sighted a tiger on February 13 while walking on the transect line in Somthana range of Wan sanctuary (part of Melghat) and another tiger was seen near Semadoh on February 16. One direct tiger sighting has also been recorded in FDCM area of Chandrapur. VK Sinha, chief conservator (CCF) & field director of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), says there could be more such records from TATR once data is compiled. The analysis of data will be done by researchers at the regional level. "Based on this data, camera traps will be installed," he added. AK Mishra, CCF & field director of MTR, was overjoyed by the direct tiger sightings. He too admits that due to complex landscape and dense forest cover, sightings are rare. However, he said that tigers have occupied territories in all the three villages relocated a year ago. "The exercise was done in 275 beats. With two pairs of cameras in each beat, we'll need 450 cameras from March 1. It will help us find the individual tiger numbers of the reserve," Mishra said. The MTR documentation at different levels and data collected shows presence of around 50 tigers. However, in 2010, the monitoring of tigers, co-predators and prey as per the instructions of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India ( WII), Dehradun, revealed that MTR supports population of 39 tigers in 1,800 sq km. In MTR's 230 sq km Dhargad range, comprising Gurgipati, Koktu, Kelpani, Bori, Boripati and Gullarghat, huge evidence of carnivore and herbivore presence was recorded. These dense forest patches are said to have half of MTR's tiger population. Regular sightings of bisons, chitals, sambars, and sloth bears were reported around transect lines here. Field director AK Mishra, Akot deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) Vijay Godbole and ACF Pramod Panchabhai closely monitored the drive by walking on transect lines. Godbole says it is important to note that more animals in an area may not result in enhanced detection probability, since the latter is governed by terrain features, cover, visibility etc. The 2010 tiger assessment involved three phases. This will be for the first time fourth phase will be added to the three phases. Across 41 tiger reserves, the 2010 assessment estimated 1,706 tigers (range between 1,571 and 1,875). The Way Ahead Camera traps at density of one pair per 4-5 sq km Minimum trap nights of a 1,000 per 100 sq km (i.e. 25 pairs of cameras in 100 sq km for 40 days) Minimum area coverage of 400 sq km Closure period of 40 to 60 days Entire reserve needs to be sampled In case of larger reserves like MTR, the area will be covered by dividing into blocks for camera trapping Two transects of 2-km length for each beat to be walked three times during each season. This protocol should be done for two seasons (summer and winter)

'Toothless' regional tiger cell meets today

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Feb 21, 2012, 06.11AM IST NAGPUR: With time running out for tigers and wildlife in particular due to poaching and the shrinking habitat, the regional tiger cell will meet on Tuesday after a gap of nine months to address various issues. PK Mahajan, deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) for Nagpur division and member-secretary of the cell, said this is the 12th meeting and will be held at 4.30 pm at Van Sabhagruha, Seminary Hills. The meet will be chaired by special IGP Rajinder Singh. It will be attended by divisional forest officers (DFOs), MSEDCL officials and superintendents of police from Gondia, Nagpur, Gadchiroli, Wardha, Chandrapur and Bhandara districts. Member-NGOs including Prafulla Bhamburkar of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Nitin Desai of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Harshawardhan Dhanwatey of Tiger Research and Conservation Trust (TRACT) and Kundan Hate have also been invited. The regional tiger cell meeting should be held every three months but it's not been happening. The cell was formed in 2000. The last meeting was held on April 11, 2011. Mahajan said the meeting could not be called early as the officials concerned were busy with recruitment of forest guards and later with the winter session of the state legislature followed by the zilla parishad, municipal council and corporation elections. "We will approve the minutes of the last meeting and discuss strategy on wildlife protection and better coordination," Mahajan added. Meanwhile, conservationists have expressed grave concern over lack of action on a host of decisions taken by the cell in the past. They want the cell to take issues seriously. "Such meets should not end up as mere tea sessions," a member felt. The cell has failed to act on many decisions taken for wildlife protection including curbing and nailing culprits in illegal fishing in Pench, forming a special committee to look into skin seizure cases, preventive action against habitual offenders, operations against Baheliyas and checking 'musafir registers' with police patils. In the last meeting it was decided that police station diaries will have a special column for wildlife crime and police personnel will take part in the tiger estimation exercise, but the decision remains only on paper. "As the cell meetings are not held at regular intervals, every time a new Special IGP chairs the meet. This leads to a fresh discussion on issues," said one of the members. They added that many wild animals continue to be poached for meat and body parts. The meat is openly sold in weekly markets in rural area but officials' action is not forthcoming. "These illegal activities only go to show that due to lack of coordination between the forest department, the police and NGOs, the results are nil. These cells have become clawless," moaned conservationists. Decisions Only On Paper * FDCM, which has a large forest area under its jurisdiction, not invited to meetings * Decision on expert group of police and forest officials in vulnerable Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Gondia, Wardha, Amravati, Nagpur, Bhandara, Thane and Mumbai not taken * Decision on secret funds hanging by fire * No special cell for handling wildlife crime cases. Joint forest and MSEDCL teams too not formed * Several tiger poaching cases in Chandrapur not reopened as promised by the then Spl IGP SB Sawarkar * Police station diaries with special columns for wildlife crime pending. Cops too not part of the census exercise as decided

Tiger trackers get their due

- Relief for cash-strapped Palamau park A.S.R.P. MUKESH Palamau Tiger Reserve Ranchi, Feb. 20: The weekend has proved lucky for striking trackers at Palamau Tiger Reserve currently in a no-pay-no-work mode, with the forest headquarters releasing partial funds in a bid to grant wages pending for seven months and the state deciding to gift cycles to each. The 150 trackers at PTR had been on strike since February 9 to protest against the non-payment of their wages — Rs 125 a day for each — for all these months, which The Telegraph highlighted on Saturday in its report on the funds tangle that crippled the reserve. In an overnight development, yesterday, the forest headquarters at Doranda released partial funds of around Rs 31 lakh to pay the wages. However, the core issue — why the state doesn’t bother to send the Centre a letter of utilisation of funds, which is why the tiger reserve is cash-strapped for years on end — has been left hanging. The cheque, addressed to Palamau Tiger Reserve divisional forest officer Premjit Anand, could not be encashed today as banks were closed on Shivratri. Officials said that emergency funds were managed from other sources. Chief conservator of forests (wildlife) A.K. Gupta confirmed the development. “Yes, funds have been released. It is a little over Rs 31 lakh. The cheque has been given to the divisional forest officer (Anand) and payments will take place once the bank reopens on Tuesday,” he said. The strike is, therefore, expected to end in a couple of days. Once it does, trackers — who walk more than 10km a day — can also expect cycles, thanks to the first-of-its-kind largesse of the state forest department, which earlier only doled out biscuits and canvas shoes. This maiden experiment to increase the mobility of trackers and tiger protection force members has already started rolling with Saturday’s launch of a tendering process for branded cycle companies. “We have decided to give them cycles with the twin objectives of boosting their morale and increasing their mobility,” Gupta told The Telegraph. The cycles will be a more-than-welcome bonus in the coming summer months, giving the trackers the motivation to cover the reserve more thoroughly, even alternating between treks and pedals. GPS devices and CCTV cameras will complement fieldwork for better monitoring. However, what needs to be done is to get cracking on the bigger picture — ensuring that the Centre’s funds are not locked by state’s bureaucratic apathy — for smooth operations of the tiger abode that faces countless problems, animal and human.

The Ranthambhore story

G. ANANTHAKRISHNAN One of India's iconic tiger reserves is emblematic of its efforts to save the big cat Preserving India's wild tigers has become a popular cause today. Most people might never see a wild tiger, but they fully support measures to save it. They are aware that, in spite of several challenges, tigers do persist and need help. Poaching, mining, indifferent forest bureaucracies, highways in sanctuaries, and unrestrained consumerism — all pose a threat. It is undoubtedly a gloomy picture. And this sense of despair once again pervades Valmik Thapar's writing, relieved only by an occasional glimmer of hope. The Ranthambhore National Park, the tiger haven near Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, is among Thapar's favourite haunts. The very name evokes images of vast forested lands, the ruins of a massive fort, and lakes with emerald vegetation attracting the big cats and their prey. The author's tryst with tigers here began in his twenties, and grew into a magnificent obsession over three-and-a-half decades. This comprehensive book, the 21st by the crusading conservationist-author, is essentially made up of two parts. The first is a lavish spread of images, many of them by Fateh Singh Rathore, a passionate forester, which makes it worth collecting. The second is a critique of tiger conservation in the three decades since hunting was outlawed, major forest laws were introduced, and the protection of the environment became a policy imperative. Enlightening Even if the reader has no particular interest in Thapar's anecdote-laced analysis of what is wrong with India's forest and conservation policies, he will find the book quite absorbing and enlightening, thanks to the pictures that are supremely delightful and offer a lot of insight into the ecology, biology, behaviour, prey preferences, and habitat of the tiger. The Government of India has spent enormous money since the launch of Project Tiger (which later became the National Tiger Conservation Authority). Yet, reading through the chapters of this book, one is left with the feeling that New Delhi was not really serious about the goal. Environmental governance under the supervision of Indira Gandhi yielded splendid gains and helped wildlife recover. But after her departure from the scene, it has been a systematic reversal, with Nature being looked upon only as a resource to be managed and extracted from. This is the economics that, in Thapar's view, grossly tilts the scales against the survival of the tiger. Two things stand out in his analysis: policy confusion about protected areas that has resulted in mounting pressures on habitat and the generally hostile attitude of the forest bureaucracy to independent research, which prevents the growth of scholarship on conservation. Disaster project Thapar describes his interaction with several Ministers for Environment and, mostly, they do not cover themselves in glory, with the exception of Jairam Ramesh. They appear vague, vain or inept, while dealing with forest protection. The Environment Ministry comes across as a “funny place”, and the World Bank's $ 70 million eco-development project under the Global Environment Facility, a disaster for forests. One Environment Minister, Thapar says, surprised him by declaring that he had been presented a fresh tiger skin during an election meeting in his constituency. Things were not good for the other folk working to save tigers. Independent researchers such as Raghu Chundawat, who worked with the author, faced unrelenting pressure to establish his bona fide intent and had to endure smear campaigns for the simple reason that they recorded the decline of tigers — as in Panna. The shocking story of Sariska's local extinction and clumsy attempts at re-introduction of tigers is told with a lot of personal insight. These are not new stories, of course, but form part of the long journey that Thapar has undertaken in Ranthambhore and elsewhere. The book affirms the superiority of scientific research and gives credit to scientist Ullas Karanth and his camera-trap-based capture-recapture sampling technique to arrive at credible tiger counts. The reader is also treated to hilarious anecdotes, including one on the discredited pugmark method, which produced exaggerated tiger population figures. In one instance, a forest guard claimed that he had made a trace of a pugmark from the wet foot of a tiger on a rock, before it dried up. On policy, if there is one issue for which a doughty fighter like the author is yet to come up with a solution, that is the perceived conflict between electoral politics and conservation imperatives. Thus, the Forest Rights Act in its present form — empowering tribals and traditional forest dwellers — is seen as divisive and harmful to conservation, and politicians focussed solely on votes as men of poor mettle. He calls it the “ignorant buzzword.” That debate is set to go on. Ultimately, it is the tigers that elevate the book. They are everywhere in glorious colour, hunting in the lakes of Ranthambhore, walking, frolicking, snarling, leaping, sparring, mating or simply relaxing. Valmik Thapar and Fateh Singh Rathore spent many dreamy days in this idyll, watching a fascinating creature in its home. The book is a tribute as much to Fateh, who was Valmik's mentor from the beginning, as to the big cats. Keywords: Ranthambhore National Park, Valmik Thapar, Fateh Singh Rathore, Ullas Karanth, Project Tiger, National Tiger Conservation Authority, Forest Rights Act

Predator, prey base has increased at Dudhwa Tiger Reserve: WTI

PTI | Feb 20, 2012, 04.45PM IST LAKHIMPUR KHERI (UP): Apprehensions about depletion of prey base in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR), generated after reports of tigers hunting rhinos surfaced, were dispelled by a recent survey conducted in three areas of the wildlife sanctuary. The survey was conducted in Dudhwa National Park (DNP), Kishunpur Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary (KGWS) by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). Based on scat (droppings) analysis of the big cats and their prey species including spotted deer, wild boars, swamp deer, hog deer, barking deer, langoors, among others, it was concluded that prey and predators have increased. "WTI survey has highlighted the fact that numbers of both prey as well as predators have increased which can be attributed to adept habitat management and wildlife protection," Field director and chief conservator of forest Parasada said. The CCF said the density of tigers has increased, as reported by the survey, hence this would be reflected in the numbers as well. During camera trapping under Phase three in DTR, the density of tigers in Dudhwa National Park came around 7.88 per km, he said. As per the report, the number of tigers comes to around 72 in DNP, 32 in KWS and 23 in Kishunpur. Total number of tigers in DTR tallies at around 127. According to the WTI report, DNP has the highest density of big cats and prey species, followed by Kishunpur and Katarniaghat sanctuaries. The WTI teams scanned 149.2 sq km area of DNP including Sathiyana, Dudhwa, South Sonaripur and Belrayan from December 2011 and January 2012 and found a total of 80 scats of big cats, which tallied at 53%. Similarly, in 91.77 sq km area of Nishangada and Katarniaghat areas of KWS, the ratio of scat collection of big cats tallied around 32 per cent while in 201.81 sq km area of Mailani and Kishunpur areas in KWS, it was around 26.5%. The WTI survey corroborates the report of the last tiger census which described density of the big cat in Dudhwa as 7.9 per km as compared to 4.9 of 2007.

Pug marks confirm tiger in Saranda

B Sridhar, TNN | Feb 21, 2012, 07.28AM IST JAMSHEDPUR: Speculation over the presence of the big cat in the Saranda forest was put to rest,when the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, confirmed the presence of the tiger here recently. The divisional forest officer,K K Tiwary, however, clarified that the institute has not suggested the specific number of tigers. In its preliminary report, the institute confirmed the pug marks that were sent by the forest officials for examination last year. "The preliminary report has confirmed the presence of a tiger in the Gua area of the forest cover but for further confirmation we need to have visual evidence," said Tiwary. In November last year, the forest department traced pug marks beside the carcass of a bison suggesting an attack by a tiger. Thereafter, the pug marks were collected using tracing paper and plaster of Paris and were sent to the Betla Project Tiger office for examination. "Betla officials sent the pug marks to Dehradun, which examined the evidences and confirmed the pug marks," said Tiwary. Since then, the department has been on the lookout for evidence. "The possibility of tigers straying into the West Singhbhum area from Simplipal cannot be ruled out. So we need visual evidence before we confirm their resident status," said Tiwary. He also said since November last there has been no report of animal casualty involving an attack by a tiger or tigress. Saranda, spread over 850 sq km, has about 1,000 cheetals, 300 sambars and 25 bisons, according to the last census. "Till a few decades ago, there were tigers in Saranda but over the years their number has declined," said a forest conservator, adding, "Saranda was home to wild boars, barking deer and antelope which suggest their predator's (tiger) presence nearby."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tigress dies in road accident, cub in shock

TNN | Feb 20, 2012, 02.23AM IST CHANDRAPUR/NAGPUR: A tigress was found dead and its sub-adult cub has been traced close by on the premises of Lohara teak research centre, 3km from Chandrapur, on Sunday. This is the second tiger death in a month in the district. On January 23, a full-grown tiger was electrocuted in Zaran in FDCM area near Chandrapur. The tigress seems to have died after being hit by an unidentified vehicle while crossing the road. Experts say the spot seems to be a favourite crossing as a tigress had met the same fate in February 2006. Senior officials confirmed presence of a cub nearby, who is unable to stand on its legs after the accident. "The cub, suspected to be sub-adult, is in a state of shock. We are closely monitoring movement of the cub and have installed camera traps. A bait has also been tied near the cub. A search of the area has revealed that there is only one cub," they said. However, experts suspect that there might be another cub which must have moved ahead. On Sunday, patrolling staff of the teak centre noticed carcass of the tigress in compartment no. 397 close to the Chandrapur-Mul road. It took more than five hours for the senior officers of Chandrapur circle to reach the spot after the carcass was noticed. A visit to the spot revealed that the carcass was fresh and blood was oozing out from the nose and the right hind limb was slashed. The 8-year-old beast may have died early in the morning. "All the body parts of the tigress are intact and hence possibility of poaching is ruled out," officials said. The big cat was 2.40 metres in length and 94cm in height. Sources claimed that the tigress had its location in the teak research nursery and forest around. The tigress had a 20-cm-long gash in the right hind limb. A deep cut ripped the skin revealing bone close to the claw. "The animal's joint at the place of fresh injury has also been dislocated. There is also a 4-cm-long injury on the right forelimb which appears a bit old. The tigress might have died due to excessive internal bleeding," officials said, quoting veterinary doctors. They ruled out the possibility of electrocution as no burn marks were found on the body. Veterinary doctors who performed autopsy later deduced the internal haemorrhage as a cause of death. Deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) P Kalyankumar informed that the tigress might have been hit by some vehicle while crossing the road. The carcass was burned in the presence of forest officials and NGOs in the evening. Nitin Desai, Central India director of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), said, "It's a big loss as a tigress delivers at least 16 cubs during her life circle. It is high time vehicular traffic is regulated on Chandrapur-Mul road."

Woman mauled by tiger in Ranthambore

TNN Feb 18, 2012, 03.10AM IST woman|Ranthambore Tiger Reserve|mauled|death JAIPUR: Morpali Meena, a 50-year-old woman, was mauled to death by a tiger at Bera Ki Qui between the Darrah and Berro areas of the Ranthambore tiger reserve on Thursday. Morpali, mother of a nature guide of the park Jagdish Meena, was missing since Thursday evening but it was only after the recovery of her body on Friday morning that her death was confirmed by forest officials. Meena had gone to collect firewood from the area in the afternoon but when she did not return home till late evening her family members began searching for her. "Late in the evening, we had come across some clothes belonging to her but there was no trace of her body. Officials of the department tried to scan the area but due to darkness the search proved futile," a forest department official said. The search was resumed in the morning and the woman's body was traced atop a hillock in the Bera Ki Qui area. The hill lies on the periphery of the reserve and is home to a tiger of the park. The body of Morpali Meena bore bite marks on the left thigh and waist. A post-mortem was conducted on the body that confirmed that she died due to animal bite. Later her body was handed over to her family along with a compensation sum of Rs 2 lakh. "But we cannot confirm if she was attacked and killed by a tiger as the hill where the body was traced is rocky and therefore had no pug marks. She could have been killed by any wild animal, including a tiger or a panther," said A Choubey, chief wildlife warden, Rajasthan. Sources though revealed that tiger pugmarks were traced to the bottom of the hill. The last that Ranthambore witnessed a death due to tiger attack was on August 17, 2010 when a 22-year-old youth was mauled to death at Indala Dang area.

DFO & forest guards at loggerheads

TNN | Feb 20, 2012, 07.24AM IST DALTONGANJ: Divisional forest officer (DFO-buffer) Anil Mishra and Jharkhand Van Shramik Union president Sidh Nath Jha are at loggerheads. About 157 contractual workers, daily wage-earners of the Palamu Tiger Reserve are on a dharna for past nine days. The officer and the union are at loggerheads on the issue of removal of three daily wage workers from the reserve. The workers removed are Sidh Nath Jha, Green Ram and Mukut Stephen Tirkey. Mishra said, "I had removed four daily wagers. But intriguingly these union people are making noises about only three." Mishra could not recollect the name of the fourth one removed by him. "Jha is the state president of the Jharkhand Van Shramik Union. He does not work at all. Jha's plea is that he is the head of the union so he be exempted from doing work as a daily wager," said the DFO adding that should a contractual worker (daily wage earner) be paid government money in terms of wages if the person concerned has not done any work at all?. The DFO reiterated this union president would not be paid wages at all for the period he has not done work. Jha's non performing days are being counted and now he stands removed from the tiger reserve. Jha concedes his removal is unjust. He said, "We want all removed to be taken in the PTR." When asked as to why he does not work like other daily wagers Jha said, "Being the state president of Van Shramik Union there is hardly any time left for doing but my presence in PTR helps other daily wagers to work more sincerely." On the reason for removing the other two daily workers the DFO said that Green Ram and Mukut Stephen Tirkey have been removed for selling precious woods/trees of PTR to local carpenters in villages situated in and around the PTR. However Jha defended them saying, "The daily wagers are a victim of conspiracy of either forest guards or rangers as when ever these daily wagers point fingers towards corruption in PTR the forest guards and rangers start waging war against daily wagers."

Tiger cub found dead in Nagarahole

Bangalore, February 17 2012, DHNS: A year old male tiger cub was found dead in Antara Sante Range of Nagarahole National Park on Friday. The carcass of the cub was found near Hoskere anti-poaching camp in Antar Sante Range. According to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden B K Singh the cub died of natural causes.“There appears to be no foul play, because all body parts are intact,” he said. Tiger, leopard pelts seized Tiger and leopard pelts worth Rs 15 lakh were seized at Koppa in Chikmagalur district by Forest department officers along with some of the City-based wildlife enthusiasts. Acting on a tip by an autorickshaw driver from Koppa, the forest officers raided and arrested a person who possessed a tiger cub pelt worth Rs 10 lakh and the pelt of a young leopard worth Rs five lakh. 14 persons have been arrested in this connection. According to Sunil Duggar of Akhila Bharatha Prani Daya Sangha, the tiger was poached from Chikmagalur forests in November and the leopard was killed through electrocution in January, 2012. The arrest was an outcome of a four-day long operation.

Tiger scares away voters on outskirts

TNN | Feb 20, 2012, 12.47AM IST The beast, which has been in the area for over a month, scared away voters in the Rahmankhera locality and only 35% people from a cluster of six villages in the area turned up to cast their votes. RAHMANKHERA: Apart from winning the voters' confidence, candidates in Malihabad constituency had an unusual odd to overcome - menace of a wandering tiger. The beast, which has been in the area for over a month, scared away voters in the Rahmankhera locality and only 35% people from a cluster of six villages in the area turned up to cast their votes on Sunday. The overall polling in Malihabad was 58%. "We did get a call from the 'party' to come and vote without fear. Otherwise also, candidates had been telling us to act brave," said a villager Kalluram. The political assurances, however, did not pay off. "We were told that the low turnout was because of the tiger," said a poll officer at the Dugauli booth. "Even those who turned up, came in groups to vote," Kalluram adds. Ulrapur, in Rahmankhera, has nothing distinctive about it. It's broken, kuchcha roads, rather, make it a perfect case of state's apathy and neglect. But, on the polling day, the village assumed importance. More than 20 security guards were deployed by forest department at the village to infuse a sense of security in villagers, scared of the stray tiger. But, result was not encouraging. "I came with others. And, more than half of the voters, have not come," said Pyarelal of Ulrapur villager. "We are going to vote in groups," said his friend Siyaram. Rahmankhera has several of its villages reeling under the tiger scare. The worst affected are Dugauli, Ulrapur and Meethenagar. All these villages are situated between forest area. Dugauli and Ulrapur together have 658 registered voters. The tiger is located around the campus of Central Institute of Subtropical Horticultre (CISH) campus. A narrow road from the main Malihabad road, takes one inside the premise. While Dugauli lies on one side of this narrow road, Ulrapur lies on the other side. "The stretch that connects two villages, has dense forest on both sides," said Arjun Lal Yadav. However, presiding officer, Lalit Sharma, who, too, was aware of the roaming tiger, ruled out any such impact. "People are coming out in good numbers," said the officer. The forest officers, including senior officers, were present on the spot manning security at sensitive villages. "We know our responsibilities, and we are doing our best. There is no scare at all, and voters are moving," said a senior officer. Canvassing in the area had already been badly hit in the area due to the big cat. "When we come back from work in the evening, we give call up at our place first. It's only after four five people come and stand at road with lathis, that we enter the village," said Sanjay, resident of Ulrapur, about the tiger scare in the area. "So far, it hasn't attacked anybody. But who knows," said Nayandevi. Since villagers are dependent for most of their basic needs on the forest, from fodder to fuel, tiger presence in the area is affecting them hard. The tiger was first spotted on January 8 and has not been trapped despite best effort fro forest officials.

'India must make wildlife cadre to protect tigers'

Last Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 12:39 0 Tags: India, wildlife cadre, tigers protection Bangkok: India should step up efforts to revamp its forest service and create a separate wildlife cadre for tigers which can work in partnership with other agencies to protect the animal, a top conservationist has said. Valmik Thapar, an Indian conservationist, is of the view that when the British left India they also left behind the Indian Forest Service, whose primary duty was cutting of forests and use of forests. "That scenario has changed now, it is not only about protecting the forest but also protecting its wildlife," he said adding that wildlife protection was a very tiny part of the service and not sufficient and called for a wildlife cadre. "If India wants more landscape for tigers, a separate cadre has to be carved," he said on the sidelines of a Tiger protection conference here. "The time has come for change, new partnerships without that tigers won't be alive," he said. The Tiger conference organised by the UN office of Drugs and Crime saw police and customs heads and Tiger conservationists from 13 Asian countries agreeing to tighten controls and improve cross border cooperation to curb the illegal smuggling of tigers and other critically endangered species. "We must take immediate and urgent action to save these magnificent animals from extinction," Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organisation said. Thapar said poaching was linked to a government. "Poaching accelerates, when there is a bad and weak government as poachers exploit these gaps," he said, adding that bad governance and bad political leadership also led to the endangerment of animal species. He felt that India's forest department did not like change. "We need to rethink otherwise we have no hope," he lamented. Meanwhile, the Global Tiger Initiative of the World Bank said India faced major challenges in sustaining the integrity and inviolability of core tiger habitats and corridors (mounting pressures from roads, mining and extraction industries) It said that one billion US dollars were needed to relocate villages out of the core areas. Another challenge was in maintaining tiger occupancy in habitats outside tiger reserves and noted there was a 20 percent in tiger occupancy observed habitats outside designated tiger reserves. A third challenge according to the Tiger Initiative was managing human-wildlife relationships noting there had been increased tiger-human conflict in some landscapes. However the Global Initiative also noted that India had made some major achievements. These included addition of 2,500 km of new tiger habitat by establishing two new Tiger Reserves bringing a total of 54,656 Km2 under 41 Tiger reserves. This represented a five per cent increase in tiger habitat under protection, it said adding that five more tiger reserves were under establishment and another six were proposed. It said across the country, tiger and prey estimations had recorded a modest increase in tiger numbers and that wildlife corridors connecting critical tiger breeding areas had been identified and published. "If we lose an emblematic species like the Tiger, mankind will be acknowledging that it is prepared to lose any animal on the planet. This must not be allowed to happen," Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UNODC told the conference adding that "by our actions we must show that we have the capacity, the ability and the commitment to protect other species living on this planet." PTI