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Monday, April 30, 2012

Govt to release secret funds, launch Special Tiger Protection Force

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 01.20AM IST NAGPUR: Stung by the poaching of a tiger in a jaw trap in Palasgaon range in the buffer zone of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), the state government has announced a host of measures, including release of secret funds to develop intelligence network and appointment of forest guards under Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF). "The incident is extremely tragic as well as an eye-opener after the electrocution of two tigers in the recent past in Tadoba landscape," said Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary (forests). He said a red alert has been sounded around Tadoba, Melghat, Bor, Nagzira and Navegaon. After discussions with National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and senior forest officials, preventive steps to trace more traps in the periphery of these PAs have been announced. Directions have been issued to the staff to keep track of all water holes, particularly on the periphery of protected areas for traps on a daily basis. "Nagzira and Bor also need to be on high alert, with daily scanning of every waterhole and keeping track of tigers outside the parks," Pardeshi said. As per the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), the latest poaching may be the handiwork of the gang involved in poaching near Tadoba in 2010. The pictures of those two culprits are already available with the forest department and Nitin Desai, Central India director of WPSI. Pardeshi has also directed recruitment of 90 forest guards under Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) approved by the government for TATR. These guards will be put under the field director and posted in buffer zone for patrolling. The money for the secret fund will be released this week and announcement of awards for information leading to arrest or capture of contraband articles will be made on radio, bus stations, railway stations and village chavdies. Pardeshi also spoke to inspector general of police (IGP), Nagpur, and superintendent of police, Chandrapur. They are on high alert to capture and trace the suspects. Wildlife experts said that the system of monitoring waterholes twice daily has not been followed and needs to be strictly monitored and documented. Such poaching incidents are possible only during summer in landscapes of tiger reserves. However, the field staff come to know about it after several days. Therefore, divisional forest officials (DFOs) have been told to alert field staff on wireless immediately. In the next two days, officials have been told to meet staff and enforce various protocols of protection camps, including group patrol, daily monitoring of water holes, reaching out to local villagers for getting information of outsiders, enhanced frisking of strangers as well as villagers found in unusual locations, maintenance of diary by guards etc. At the same time, officials have been told not to press the panic button. It is being described as an exercise to boost confidence and vigilance level of the field staff, they were told. They have been further asked to ensure that pro forma of monitoring waterholes is regularly submitted by guards.

Community based eco-tourism, a success story

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT K. Vijayanandan, Deputy Director and Wildlife Warden of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, speaking at the Enviro Meet organised by Osai, an NGO, in the city on Sunday. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has been able to make rapid strides in initiatives relating to eco-tourism as well improve forest management through community based eco-tourism, said K. Vijayanandan, Deputy Director and Wildlife Warden of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (PTR). He was speaking on the topic “Tribal Development through community based eco-tourism - Parambikulam Experience” at the Enviro Meet organised by Osai – Voice for Nature, an NGO. Mr. Vijayanandan said that Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has many firsts to its credit, made possible through the participation of tribal people. Being a most protected forest area, the reserve has nearly five endemic flora varieties, he said. Ever since the Joint Forest and Participatory Management was introduced, the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has not witnessed even a single incident of poaching since 2004 and since 2007 there had not been a single incident of forest fire. Employment opportunity for 234 tribal people, benefitting over 260 families, has resulted in the reserve becoming the first domestic cattle-free protected forest area. Tribal people have become part of the Social Tiger Protection Force and are effectively combating forest and wildlife-related offences. There are seven eco-development committees serving the restricted and regulated eco-tourism needs and looking after the livelihood of tribal people. There are 13 eco-tourism packages being made available to tourists by the Department through tribal people. Plastic waste has reduced tremendously and remaining waste are recycled and made into key chains embedded with PTR related images and slogans. They are sold as souvenir for the tourists. The tourism is regulated carefully avoiding disturbance to wildlife by banning the entry of private vehicles. Four new vehicles with 18 seats each have been inducted for taking the tourists around the reserve. Referring to the farming activity in Poopara hamlet by the tribal people, Mr.Vijayanandan said that banana cultivation earlier led to human – animal conflict. Now, with inputs from Forest Department, the tribal people have switched over to ginger, coffee, pepper and turmeric cultivation, which are not sought after by wild animals. Organic certification and good price has turned them a happy lot today, he added. REVENUE Mr. Vijayanandan said that the PTR recorded revenue of Rs. 1.25 crore during 2009-10 and it became Rs. 1.86 crore in 2010-2011 and in 2011-2012 it had risen to Rs. 2.45 crore. Of the revenue generated during the last year, Rs. 85 lakh was disbursed as salary to tribal people employed by the Forest Department, while Rs. 90 lakh was spent towards maintenance and upkeep. He said that with eco-tourism initiatives aided by tribal people, the tiger reserve has become almost self-sufficient. During the previous fiscal, a total of 47,500 tourists had visited the tiger reserve, he said. Referring to the ongoing problem of tree cutting in Coimbatore, Mr. Vijayanandan said that the 245-year-old Connemara teak, the oldest in the entire country, has so far benefitted the earth to a tune of Rs. 8 crore in terms of oxygen generation. He said that trees need to be looked at for the ecological value and the benefits it gives to humanity. On involving the generations of tomorrow towards the task of conservation and inculcating the ability to appreciate nature, Mr. Vijayanandan said that during 2011-2012, as many as 60 nature camps benefitting 2,250 students were held providing free food and accommodation. C.R. Jayaprakash, Assistant Professor of PSG College of Arts and Science, presided over the function and K. Kalidasan, president of Osai, took part.

Rs 10,000 reward for info on tiger poachers

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 01.29AM IST CHANDRAPUR: The Chandrapur forest department and NGO Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) have announced separate cash prizes of Rs 10,000 each for any information about the poachers responsible for death of tigers in Palasgaon range. WPSI started distributing pamphlets seeking information on poachers in rural areas on Sunday, while the forest department would start a similar campaign on Monday. Both agencies have sought information about the gang of poachers or any individual having involvement in poaching of tigers in Palasgaon range with the help of jaw traps. Any person giving information about poachers would get a prize of Rs 10,000 cash and his name will be kept secret, forest department and WPSI have assured. Those having information can contact DCF P Kalyankumar (9890954572) and ACF Raju Dhabekar (9422820770) to give information to forest department. Similarly, WPSI's Central India director Nitin Desai (9422803037) can be contacted to reveal any information about poachers. Meanwhile, the forest department has stepped up search operations for poacher gangs in the district. Assistant director of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) Shaik Karimulla along with his associate Madivanan too have arrived in Chandrapur to investigate and assist in the case. "We are here as the matter is related to professional poaching. Death of a tiger and injury to other one is unfortunate," said Karimulla. Sources claimed that the forest department suspects the involvement of hard-core poacher Keru Rajgond and his cousin Ajit alias Rajkumar in the case. Intelligence information of his presence in Chandrapur and Gadchiroli around two months back has led to the suspicions. Chandrapur police had arrested Keru and Ajit with assistance of WPSI here in November in connection with recovery of tiger skins and bones in Sampark Kranti Express in Nagpur. The accused duo was handed over to CBI, which was investigating the case. But both disappeared once they were given bail by the court, nine months after staying in jail under MCR.

Valparai tiger loses battle

TNN Apr 29, 2012, 04.16AM IST COIMBATORE: The tiger that entered a homestead in Valparai and got gored by a cow died on Saturday morning. A postmortem on Saturday evening linked its death to a bad meal the big cat had a few hours before it went to retrieve the remains of a previous kill it left behind two days ago in the cowshed. The tiger, according to the postmortem report, had eaten a porcupine hours before attacking the cow. Quills of the porcupine had pierced the tiger's heart and intestine. The tiger breathed its last at around 8am on Saturday inside the cage where it was kept after given the tranquilizing shot late Friday evening, according to Manampallai forest ranger officer Arokiaraj Xavier. The medicines administered by veterinarian Dr N Kalaivanan, who had come from Mudumalai National Park in the Nilgiris on Friday evening to tranquilize the tiger, could not save the 10-year-old animal. The attack of the cow and the internal injuries it suffered after eating the porcupine had left the tiger weak. Throughout the day, the animal was confined to the cowshed of R Gnanasekaran, a resident of Periyar Nagar in Valparai. The absence of a vet with expertise in the use of tranquilizers locally had delayed officials from providing proper treatment to the animal. Forest officials did not dare to go anywhere near the injured animal to provide food, water or medicines fearing retaliation. The aged animal, officials, said could not fight off the fatigue and the injuries. At 1.30pm on Saturday, Kalaivanan returned to conduct the autopsy in the Manampally Forest Range Office premises in the presence of senior forest officials, World Wide Fund For Nature representatives Dr Ajay and Mohanraj and Valparai police inspector M Subramanian. The autopsy revealed that one of the legs of the tiger was damaged in the attack by the cow. Its nails were broken and blood stains found on the nail beds. There was a deep cut on the stomach which was caused by the sharp quills of the porcupine. There were numerous cysts in the intestine and the lungs too were damaged. Two quills had pierced its heart. According to Kalaivanan, the tiger would have hunted and eaten a porcupine before moving to Gnanasekaran's property. The tiger was cremated at a spot close to Meenparai on the way to Top Slip in the presence of a large crowd. Meanwhile, forest officials assured locals that they would take up the request to station a vet with expertise in tranquilizing animals in Anamalai Tiger Reserve, which includes the forests in and around Valparai. Residents of Valparai are prone to frequent attacks by elephants and leopards.

Tiger found dead

Hunsur, (Mysore dist), April 29 2012, DHNS: A male tiger, about five years old, was found dead with severe injuries in Nagarahole National Park on Sunday morning. The incident came to light during the routine beat of the forest staff. It is suspected that two male tigers had fought near Gadde Hadi in Nagarahole range on Saturday, leading to the death of one of them, said Nagarahole Conservator of Forests Vijay Ranjan Singh. There are deep injury marks on the dead tiger, which are believed to be inflicted by another tiger, he added. The tiger succumbed to the injuries. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests B K Singh and Field Director of Project Tiger B J Hosmath visited the spot. Veterinary Officer Dr Umashankar conducted the postmortem.

Injured tiger brought to Nagpur for treatment

Vijay Pinjarkar & Mazhar Ali, TNN | Apr 29, 2012, 02.05AM IST NAGPUR/CHANDRAPUR: The full-grown tiger that got injured in jaw traps set by poachers and was rescued on Friday was brought to Nagpur for treatment on Saturday at 11am. A sub-adult tiger had died in the same incident that took place at a water hole in the Palasgaon range on the outskirts of Tadoba and Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district. Doctors from the Government Veterinary College - NP Dakshinkar, Shirish Upadhye and Gautam Bhojane - are supervising the treatment. Medication has been started to ensure that gangrene doesn't set in on the tiger's injured left paw. "The further course will be decided after x-ray and operation if any will be done only on Monday," said sources involved in the rescue. Veterinary doctor PD Kadukar, who supervised the rescue and initial medication, claimed that the injury is serious. "There's swelling on the paw and the tiger has difficulty in standing," he said, adding that the tiger has been under tremendous strain for almost 18 hours while its leg was caught in jaw trap. "It could have struggled hard to release his paw, which only worsened its injury," Kadukar added. Earlier during the day, National Tiger Conservation Authority member-secretary Rajesh Gopal visited the spot. Terming the incident as unfortunate, he instructed forest officials to enhance surveillance and strengthen intelligence gathering to prevent such incidents. He held meetings with APCCF (wildlife) AK Saxena and TATR CCF Vinay Kumar Sinha in Chimur. "Gopal revealed some intelligence information he had regarding poaching and asked for enhancement of vigilance," said Sinha. Saxena said that Gopal had called for strengthening of surveillance in jungles, particularly at vulnerable spots. "He claimed similar poaching attempts were happening elsewhere in the country. He stressed on complete scanning of all waterholes in forests of Chandrapur to check presence of similar traps at other places," said Saxena. State PCCF (wildlife) SWH Naqvi commended the forest staff for the quick detection. "It was possible only because Phase IV of the census is on. It's sad that one tiger is dead," he said. "We will start group patrolling during the monsoon season." He said it's too early to talk about the injured tiger's release. "Should it be radio-collared and where should it be released will be decided in consultation with NTCA and other experts," said Naqvi. "Moreover, we will have to see how quickly the tiger will recover from its trauma and injuries." Following the success of a tigress being released with a radio collar in November last year, the forest department may repeat the experiment with the current injured tiger. "Radio collaring is a possibility," said Naqvi. After the tiger was brought to the Forest Department's premises in Seminary Hills from Chandrapur, it took nearly three hours and 20 people to lower the cage. The forest officials didn't seem ready with any plans. Only after the cage was lowered was a 500 sq ft area enclosure created with a white cloth. A cooler has been kept near the cage. The tiger is readily lapping up a lot of water but was yet to touch the mutton pieces that it's being fed when reports last came in.

Watching Machli, the Tiger Queen of yore…

SUNNY SEBASTIAN Machli, once the reigning carnivore in the entire Ranthambhore is a toothless tiger now. She needs feeding. The photograph was taken by Bina Kak, Rajasthan Minister for Forest and Environment The Queen Mother of the tiger dynasty is now in her sunset days. It may be a painful fact to accept but Machli, the tigress that reigned supreme in the woods of Ranthambhore for over a decade and produced numerous litter, is now a toothless tigress. Not that Machli, now 17 years old, has lost all her grace. The animal, though without most of her canines, still remains a magnificent creature, with her attractive fur and elegant looks intact. Age has not withered her. Perhaps only when she moves, does the infirmity show. Machli is a celebrated tigress — she was the subject of “Tiger Queen” a 50- minute film by ace cameraman Nalla Muthu which was shown in National Geography and Animal Planet channels a few years back. Continuing with the tiger dynasty trail, Nalla Muthu followed Machli's daughter Bhagani (T-18) to the Sariska Tiger Reserve where she was shifted to from the Ranthambhore National Park in July 2008 as part of a project to revive the extinct tiger population there. Nalla Muthu's encounters with Bhagani have led to the making of the impressive wildlife film, Tiger Dynasty. Tiger Queen presented Machli as the “most dominant carnivore of Ranthambhore” during her heyday. As Machli had displaced her mother to be the reigning queen of the woods, her daughter, a doughty female with the code name T-17, did the same to Machli too some years back. Now every animal in the forest is seemingly doing the same to a toothless Machli. Rajasthan Minister for Environment and Forests Bina Kak, who was in the Ranthambhore National Park recently, watched her, talked to her (that is what the Minister told The Hindu!!!) and clicked her pictures. That surely gave her some insights into the lives of tigers in the wild when they are aged. “All her canines are gone. She has difficulty in chewing. Now she survives on the baits [domestic animals tied to a tree or post] provided on a regular basis by the staff of the Forest Department,” Ms. Kak told The Hindu on her return. “At times, even the bait kept for her is snatched away by other tigers — like T-24 and T-25. Machli is old. She needs protection now,” Ms. Kak, observed. This may be defying the law of the jungle in which only the fittest survive. “A dedicated team is looking after her in Ranthambhore. There is a viewpoint in conservation circles that the animal should be allowed to die a natural death. But with Machli, with a tigress they all knew so intimately, they say, they cannot do that,” Ms. Kak said. Yet, in her difficult days also, Machli's survival instincts are helping her. “She is a clever female. Once she kills the calf that is tied as bait, she immediately drags it across a stream and hides it on the other side of the bank. This way the other animals would not follow the scent and snatch the prey from her,” Ms. Kak explained. “I saw it at least three times. I am sure she is doing it purposely to evade the rest of the predators and scavengers,” Ms. Kak asserted.

Tiger conservation body member calls for heightened surveillance to prevent poaching

TNN | Apr 29, 2012, 01.54AM IST CHANDRAPUR: National Tiger Conservation Authority member-secretary Rajesh Gopal visited the tiger poaching site at Palasgaon range on Saturday. Terming the incident as unfortunate, he instructed officials to enhance surveillance and strengthen intelligence gathering to prevent such incidents in the future. A sub-adult tiger died while a full-grown one was injured after getting stuck in traps laid by poachers on Thursday. Gopal was received by APCCF (wildlife) AK Saxena and CCF, TATR, Vinaykumar Sinha in Chimur. After inspection of the site, Gopal also held a meeting with forest department officials. "Gopal revealed some intelligence information he had regarding poaching and asked for enhancement of vigilance," said Sinha. Saxena claimed that Gopal had called for strengthening of surveillance in jungles, particularly at vulnerable spots. "He claimed similar poaching attempts were happening elsewhere in the country. He stressed on complete scanning of all waterholes in forests of Chandrapur to check presence of similar traps at other places," Saxena said. He said that the forest department has already initiated scanning of all waterholes as such places are most vulnerable spots during summer. "We will ensure complete surveillance of waterholes during summer. Where there is lesser manpower, additional forest labourers will be deployed for protection to check such incidents," he said. He denied the possibility of initiating action against anybody for failure of protection in this case. At the poaching site, Gopal inspected the places and the waterhole where poachers had laid the trap. He also took stock of efforts being taken to track the poachers responsible for laying traps. NGO activist Bandu Dhotre gave demonstration of operation of jaw traps used for poaching to Rajesh Gopal. Gopal also visited proposed rehabilitation site for TATR's village Navegaon (Ramdegi) in Chimur tehsil on his way back to Nagpur. He, however, did not respond to phone calls made for his comment.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tiger, panther census from May 1

T. LALITH SINGH Forest Department to take up the annual exercise for a week To generate data on the tiger and panther presence in the State, the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department would be initiating a week-long census starting May 1. Apart from enumerating the carnivore, the exercise plans to make an estimate of herbivore abundance at different sanctuaries and national parks. For the annual exercise, the department officials along with volunteers from different animal welfare groups would scout the wild using techniques such as pugmark track, walking trails and water hole. The trails left by tigers and panthers along with other wildlife would be picked up and documented. Locations to be covered include Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary of Jannaram forests in Adilabad district, Eturnagaram and Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary of Warangal district, Kinnerasani Wildlife Sanctuary of Khammam district, Papikonda and Chintalapally apart from Sri Venkateswara Wildlife Sanctuary, Tirupati and Srisailam Tiger Reserve. According to the officials, the field work was planned to be carried out from May 1 to 7 along with about 40 to 50 volunteers. “This will be followed by required work to go through the data in the next three days and eliminate possible duplications and arrive at right figures about wildlife in these areas,” said A Sankaran, Deputy Conservator of Forests. About herbivores, the initiative would be broader and involve estimating low, medium and high abundance of their presence. “By the end of May, we will have compiled the numbers and details of the national parks and sanctuaries,” he said. The Forest Department looks at enrolling at least 40 volunteers and then deploying at least three to four volunteers for each division. The officials said that different voluntary agencies and animal welfare groups were being approached for the purpose and the volunteer force would be drawn from Bird Watchers Society, Friends of Snakes, People For Animals (PFA) and the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HYTICOS).

Tiger dies in trap, another found trapped near Tadoba

TNN | Apr 27, 2012, 01.48AM IST CHANDRAPUR: A tiger died after it was trapped in an iron jaw trap laid by professional trappers in Palasgaon range in the buffer zone of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. Another tiger is still trapped in a nearby snare, but it is alive, said foresters. The dead body of the tiger was discovered by a team of foresters on Thursday evening. One of the forest guards at the spot was also injured when his leg got trapped in a jaw trap while approaching the dead body. The foresters said that the tiger that is still trapped can be heard calling from a distance in Palasgaon range. RFO, Palasgaon Range, Rahul Sorte said that poachers had laid multiple iron jaw traps in compartment no. 559 under Vanmali beat of Palasgaon range on Wednesday night. There is presence of a tigress and a tiger in the area. Both the tigers appear to have been trapped in the jaw traps sometime in the night. One of the two tigers succumbed to its injures, while the other was still trapped when foresters reached the scene on Thursday evening. "The area is frequently patrolled by our forest guards as phase-IV tiger monitoring exercise is underway. Our guards had gone to the area to install camera traps on Wednesday, but they had returned without placing the cameras since the tigress was present in the area. The forest guard again went to the same place on Thursday at around 5pm to install the camera traps. This time he was shocked to find the dead body of a tiger in a jaw trap," said Sorte. He said that the foreleg of the deceased tiger was trapped in the jaw trap. He however did not disclose whether the dead tiger was male or female. Sorte claimed that another tiger is sitting close to the dead body and growling hard. It is likely that this tiger too is trapped in another jaw trap. However, foresters have refrained from approaching this tiger fearing an attack. Tranquillizing experts have been summoned to the spot and an alert has been issued in the district for Baheliya and Bawariya poachers, who have expertise in poaching with jaw traps. Foresters and police department have issued a lookout for traditional medicine sellers, as Baheliya poachers usually enter forest areas in this disguise. Forest guard MB Zade was injured in the evening after his leg got trapped in a jaw trap when a team of forest officers reached the spot. His leg escaped serious injury thanks to the shoes he was wearing. Forest officials expertly removed his leg from the trap, leaving the shoe in the trap.

Tiger count in AP over 100, says Forest Department

PTI | 06:04 PM,Apr 26,2012 Hyderabad, Apr 26 (PTI) The number of tigers in Andhra Pradesh could be over 100 and their habitat is expanding, facilitating the growth of the big cats, a top Forest Department official said today. "As per our count, it is more than 100. Of course, there is always this problem (difference in number) with our counting and the counting of wildlife activists," Hitesh Malhotra, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, told reporters here. The peak population of tigers in the state was 141, he said. As per the census conducted in 2010 by Wildlife Institute, 72 tigers were reported in the state, officials said, adding the figure does not include cubs. Noting that the habitat is expanding as a tigress with two cubs and a tigress with three cubs have been spotted separately, he expressed the confidence that the big cat population would grow further. The tiger census, to be undertaken by the State Forest Department in summer, will see 'camera trap' being used and also the participation of NGOs this year, Malhotra said. PTI SJR RSY

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Runaway tiger caged after gruelling 108 days

Published: Thursday, Apr 26, 2012, 7:57 IST By Deepak Gidwani | Place: Lucknow | Agency: DNA Finally, after a grueling exercise lasting as many as 108 days which involved over two dozen forest officers, experts and employees, the runaway tiger was tranqulised and caught in the wee hours of Wednesday. The tiger, a healthy male of about four years, had strayed from its habitat about 250km from here, and settled down in the 400-acre farm of the Central Subtropical Horticulture Institute of the Union agriculture ministry at Rahmankheda, about 15km from Lucknow. The foresters had tried all the tricks in their bag, but the big cat managed to evade arrest for over three months. At one point of time, the forest department had totally given up hope of caging it, and was, in fact, coming around to the idea of developing a safari around it. Interestingly, the tiger had got followers in several countries as one avid wildlifer put it on a social networking site aptly naming it ‘Badshah’ (king). With the capture of the tiger, the terrified villagers living around the area as well as the forest department officials have heaved a sigh of relief. “It is indeed a big achievement for us to catch the tiger after such a long time without any harm to the human population,” said Ashok Mishra, Lucknow division forest officer (DFO). “It is perhaps a record of its own kind anywhere in the world,” he added. The operation started at first light around 4am, and the tiger was brought down with a dart around 6.30am. Another DFO PP Singh, a tiger expert who planned the entire operation, said the catch was the result of accurate planning. First, over the past few days, the tiger was localised to a particular patch, a ‘sheesham’ thicket, in the forest where there was dense foliage. This area was regularly watered to keep it cool, offering the tiger a perfect hideout. A water body near the area completed the picture. When the tiger started roaming this area frequently, the foresters tied a buffalo at this spot on Monday. As expected, the tiger made the kill, and the foresters let it relish the prey for one night. “The tiger did not venture far this time as water was also available nearby. The idea was to take advantage of the situation in which the tiger eats and drinks water more than usual due to no disturbance. This makes the cat slow and lazy,” explains PP Singh. Early on Wednesday morning, the foresters’ party mounted on three elephants surrounded the area. Dr Utkarsh Shukla, a vet and a darting expert, managed to get a clear hit on his second shot as the tiger moved towards his elephant. Soon, a huge crowd of villagers reached the spot to get a glimpse of the beast which had terrified them. The foresters managed to whisk it away to the Dudhwa National Park where it would be rehabilitated.

Tiger presence confirmed in Mizoram's Dampa reserve forest

PTI | 03:04 PM,Apr 25,2012 Guwahati, Apr 25 (PTI) Significant tiger presence has been confirmed in Mizoram's Dampa reserve forest through DNA- based analysis techniques. The presence of the big cats was confirmed during a joint field survey conducted by the forest reserve's field directorate, World Wildlife Fund and 'Aaranyak', a society for biodiversity conservation, in March last as part of the country-wide phase four of tiger monitoring programme initiated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). "We successfully used DNA-based analysis techniques for identifying tiger faecal samples, collected during the joint field survey", Aaranyak's head of Wildlife Genetics Programme Udayan Borthakur said here today. Efforts are now on to find out the minimum number of tigers present in Dampa through the use of DNA fingerprinting techniques, Borthakur said. Dampa Tiger Reserve is situated in the western part of Mizoram and is spread in an area of 550 sq km at the international border with Bangladesh. It consists of a forest with a difficult terrain interpolated with hills, valleys, streams and a rivulet and is a hot spot of bio-diversity with a variety of flora and fauna of Indo-Malayan origin. NTCA has categorised Dampa Tiger Reserve as one of the low density Tiger Reserves in India with deficiency of data on the current population status of tigers in the area, Borthakur said. PTI DG KK

Now, entry in Pench, Nagzira to cost more

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 26, 2012, 06.10AM IST NAGPUR: Close on the heels of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) jacking up rates for tourists, Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) and Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary have followed suit. In Nagzira, the guide fee has been doubled from Rs 100 to Rs 200 from April 24. The fee hike in PTR will come into force from May 1, 2012. Now a group of six will have shell out Rs 370 in Nagzira. It will include Rs 200 towards guide fee and Rs 170 towards entry (Rs 20 per person), vehicle (Rs 50) and camera (Rs 5). The fees will be charged per entry. "We have not hiked the gate fees. The guide fee has been doubled to benefit local people who play an important role in protecting the sanctuary," said M S Reddy, conservator of forest (CF) for Gondia Wildlife Division. He added that the instructions were passed on by principal secretary (forest) Praveen Pardeshi during his visit to Nagzira on Saturday and Sunday. "Taking a cue from Nagzira, we may also hike guide fee in Bor and Tipeshwar," said A Ashraf, chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director for PTR. Ashraf said the executive committee of Pench Tiger Conservation Foundation (TCF) on Wednesday had already decided to increase entry fee per vehicle to Rs 300. In addition, guide fee of Rs 200 will have to be paid. It comes to Rs 500 per vehicle now. "For 10 or more persons, including driver and guide, an additional Rs 22 per person will be charged," Ashraf added. "The fee will be applicable to capacity of the vehicle as approved by the regional transport office (RTO). The tourists should keep one seat vacant for guide," Ashraf said. Fee for eco-hut has also been increased from Rs 400 per day to Rs 500. The meeting did not discuss entry fee for students. On October 19, 2011, the governing body of tiger conservation foundations headed by forest minister Patangrao Kadam, had increased guides fee from Rs 100 to Rs 200 per trip in three tiger reserves - Pench, Tadoba and Melghat. The new rate has already come into force in reserves and now sanctuaries too are implementing it. The Maharashtra State Sanctuaries Guides Union (MSSGU) members have hailed the move. "Even as inflation flared, guides used to get Rs 100 per trip only. The demand to revise the fee was pending for long. There will be no discrimination too, as guides now operate as per roster system," said Prakash Kumre and Puresh Kodape, both guides in Nagzira. Pay more for tigers Tadoba-Andhari: Rs 700 Pench Tiger Reserve: Rs 500 Melghat, Tipeshwar, Bor, Navegaon, Nagzira and other PAs: Rs 375 (Sanctuary fee includes Rs 20 for adults, Rs 10 for children, Rs 50 for vehicle and Rs 5 per camera) Tiger capital issue in LS Congress MP from Nagpur Vilas Muttemwar, on Wednesday, raised the issue of promoting Nagpur as the 'world tiger capital' in Lok Sabha under Rule 377. "Nagpur has immense potential to emerge as a gateway for eco-tourism, especially tiger tourism at global level. The aim of promoting Nagpur as world tiger capital is to make it a safe haven for tigers in the Central Indian landscape," Muttemwar told the Lok Sabha.

Tigress carcass found in Kaziranga

TNN | Apr 26, 2012, 03.57AM IST JORHAT: A carcass of an adult tigress was found in Kaziranga National Park on Wednesday. Park officials suspect that the tigress died due to infighting between tigers. Divisional forest officer (Kaziranga) Dibyadhar Gogoi said, "We found a carcass of a tigress at Honuman area under Kohora forest range of the park this afternoon. The tigress was about five years old and the animal died due to infighting between tigers." He added, "Preliminary investigations suggest that the animal was attacked by other tiger one or two days ago. We found some injury marks on her body; she was mauled by the other animal. The tigress lost her left eye during the fight, but the other parts of her body was found intact." "We conducted the autopsy of the animal in presence of the representatives of the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India along with the national park authorities on Wednesday," he said. The national park lost another tigress in December last year when a personnel of the Assam police armed battalion opened fire to save some locals near Kohora forest range of the park. The adult tigress attacked two persons at Bosagaon area near the park. In April 2011, a tiger carcass was also found at the Kathanibari forest under the same forest range in Kaziranga. However, the reason of the tiger's death could not be ascertained.

CRPF vacates PTR premises

TNN | Apr 26, 2012, 06.04AM IST DALTONGANJ: The CRPF has finally vacated the tree house, cottage meant for tourists, canteen and the rest house of the Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Betla. Sources said with this, the ongoing operation against the rebels, Operation Octopus, has also come to a halt. These places were occupied by the CRPF since March 30. The divisional forest officer (DFO), core, Premjit Anand, quoting the Betla forest ranger, Ajit Singh, said, "The CRPF moved out of the tree house, cottage, canteen and the rest house on April 24." Anand said PTR officials will now have to find out if things are in "shape or not". A ranger has been asked to keep a record of the accessories. "Bills over Rs 1 lakh have been sent to the Latehar SP," said the DFO as he is the sanctioning authority. According to sources, it was because of the efforts of principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) A K Singh, that the CRPF vacated the PTR. The PCCF held parleys with the IG (operations), CRPF, D K Pandey, in this matter and was reported to have communicated to the IG CRPF that the occupancy of PTR buildings had made the structure, officers and staff vulnerable to rebels.

4 chief conservators of forests, 6 divisional forest officers transferred

TNN | Apr 26, 2012, 07.33AM IST NAGPUR: The season of transfers and postings has started in the forest department. In a minor reshuffle, six divisional forest officers (DFOs) and four chief conservators of forests (CCFs) were shifted on Wednesday evening. Sources told TOI, among the 4 CCFs, A K Mishra, field director of Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR), has been shifted to Nagpur as CCF (planning & management) in PCCF (wildlife) office. He will replace A R Mande, who has been posted as CCF (tendu). Mishra will be replaced by K P Singh, who was with Working Plan, Thane. B R Khaire, who was in Mantralaya, has been posted in place of Singh at Thane. Among the 6 DFOs, D B Shrikhande, who was working in Pandharkawda division in Yavatmal Circle, has been shifted to social forestry department (SFD) as deputy director, Bhandara. Shrikhande will be replaced by A P Girhepuje, who was DFO in PCCF (wildlife) office. Similarly, Suresh Allurwar, DFO (planning), Nagpur Circle, has been shifted to Pusad. G S Balki, who was in Pusad, has been posted to Washim in social forestry department. Besides, G P Narawne, a probationer, has been posted at Dahanu. P G Rahurkar, who was DFO (planning) at Dhule, has been shifted to Yaval division.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiger dies in Corbett National Park

PTI | 08:04 PM,Apr 24,2012 Nainital, Apr 24 (PTI) A tiger died at Corbett National Park, near here, today while being treated by a veterinary team for serious injuries, a forest department official said. The injured tiger was spotted this morning at the periphery of the park, following which a veterinary team was rushed to the spot, Rajendra Singh Bisht, Conservator Western Circle, said. The tiger, however, died without responding to the treatment, he said, adding a postmortem would be conducted tomorrow to ascertain the cause of the feline's death. PTI CORR

'Badshah' still playing hide-and-seek

TNN | Apr 25, 2012, 03.18AM IST LUCKNOW: The Rahmankhera tiger, nicknamed 'Badshah' by wildlife enthusiasts and social media, continues to play hide-and-seek with the trackers. The big cat killed and partially ate a buffalo tied as bait at Rahmankhera on Monday night. It was the 20th bait killed by the tiger even as forest officials remain clueless. The tiger has now shifted its location to a patch of forest with a dense canopy of 'sheesham' trees. On Monday night, it killed and dragged the bait to the sheesham thickets. The tracking team has set up a 'machaan' close to its current location. The bait is being tied to lure the big cat, so that it can be tranquilised once it comes close to the animal. But the strategy, which has been repeatedly tried in Rahmankhera for past four months, has failed to yield result. The tiger was first spotted at Rahmankhera on January 8. "The entire effort is focused on keeping the tiger localised at Rahmankhera rather than tranquilising it," said wildlife enthusiast Kaushalendra Singh. The forest department has not fixed any deadline for tranquilising the tiger. In such a case, the operation might continue without any interference from the agencies that matter. Wildlife activists have demanded that the government should fix a deadline for the operation since lot of money has already been spent on it. And, in case the department fails to trap the tiger in a given time, it might seek help from other quarters. Though the tracking team is now continuing the operation during night as well, activists say it should become more regular. "The team can monitor the behaviour of the tiger to find out when it strkes, in the evening or late night, and can keep a watch accordingly," said secretary, Tiger and Terrain, Sanjay Narayan.

Tribals unwilling to relocate from PTR area

TNN | Apr 25, 2012, 03.20AM IST DALTONGANJ: For the 22-odd tribal families living on the Jaigeer hill area, 3,133 feet above sea level and surrounded by hills from four sides - life means total confinement. This village is bereft of roads and electricity as well as drinking water and irrigation. There is only one school. Deprived of basic infrastructure, these families have been asked to relocate since their village and several others fall under the Palamu Tiger Reserve. Once relocated to the plains earlier, these families will also enjoy a better life and all benefits under various government schemes, said DFO (buffer) Anil K Mishra. There are three other villages falling in the core area of PTR - Ramandaag (150 houses), Latoo (50 houses) and Kujrum (40 houses).But the families do not want relocation. Lakhan Oraon, living here, is sceptical about his relocation. "What if I don't get land at the place I'm relocated," he said. Premchand Birjiya is suspicious of the forest department's designs. Lakho Devi said she had grown up here and vowed not to move out from here as her soul lives here. Mishra said he had a plan to take five of the villagers to Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh to see for themselves how people who lived in the park area have been suitably relocated with drinking water, health services, education, irrigation etc. Krishna Trushti, a PTR research assistant, compared the life here and at Kanha tiger reserve and said, "The tribals here have resigned themselves to fate. The valley is their world."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

National highways may endanger lives of big cats

Sudipta Sengupta, TNN | Apr 24, 2012, 02.39AM IST HYDERABAD: The talk of upgrading some of Andhra Pradesh's state highways to national highways, which seems to be fast gaining momentum now, has left local environmentalists worried. Two state highways -- the Hyderabad-Srisailam-Dornala-Atmakur-Nandyal stretch (354km) and the Nirmal-Khanapur-Luxeettipet (108km) -- pass through AP's most prominent tiger reserves, the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) and the recently declared Kawal Tiger Reserve, respectively. Quoting instances from other states, experts say that the move to elevate them as national highways would increase the vehicular traffic on these roads and endanger the lives of the 'big cats' living in these forest belts. Currently, NSTR has close to 60 tigers while Kawal boasts of a population of about seven. The proposed upgradation is feared to not just increase traffic movement manifold (from two-lane roads they will become four or even six-lane roads), but even lead to relaxation of time restrictions imposed in these belts at present. This, experts fear would in turn push the tiger casualty figures upward. In the NSTR for instance, vehicular movement is now banned between 9pm and 6am. "But this could be done away with once it becomes a national highway," said Imran Siddiqui a wildlife expert from the AP, adding, "We are, therefore, planning to take up the matter with the state authorities. We hope to convince the government to either shelve the proposal or realign the routes." Quoting from a recent study conducted by the Current Science Association along with the Indian Academy of Sciences in the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve area (Karnataka), Siddiqui noted how the death of large mammals in the belt had shot phenomenally owing to a rise in vehicular traffic. Even in belts such as the Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Karnataka), Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (Uttar Pradesh) and Nagriza Wildlife Sanctuary & Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra), all of which are located close to national highways, cases of tiger deaths have been reported consistently. Experts attribute these casualties to the speeding traffic on these highways that is most often not monitored by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). "As a result drivers touch speeds up to 120kmph (they should restrict it to 70-80kmph) on these national highways. Animals, especially in the night, misjudge the speed and fall prey to accidents," said wildlife biologist Milind Pariwakam who has been, for long, battling for the realignment of NH-7 that runs through Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Intriguingly, NHAI authorities, by their own admission, seem to have paid little attention to this issue prior to tabling the proposal before the central government. When contacted, Siva Reddy, engineer-in-chief, NHAI said, "Such concerns will be addressed once the Centre gives its nod to upgrade these state highways." He hastily added that a few speed-breakers would be laid on the roads to control vehicular movement. State forest department officials too seemed remotely cautioned. In fact, the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife), S V Kumar, feigned complete ignorance on the subject. This, when the rulebook clearly notes that such proposals should be passed by local forest authorities before being sent to the Centre.

National Tiger Conservation Authority seeks report on irrigation projects near Melghat

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 24, 2012, 02.29AM IST NAGPUR: Even though wildlife and territorial wings of forest department have turned mute spectators to construction of two minor irrigation projects Arkacheri in Sonala and Alewadi in Buldhana, both falling within the 10 km of Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR), the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has sought a detailed report on them. TOI had reported on April 9 that Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) was implementing both the projects without seeking permission from National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). As the projects fall within 10 km radius of Ambabarwa wildlife sanctuary (part of MTR) and are also in the notified buffer zone of the reserve, NBWL nod is a must. Aggrieved farmers from Sonala have already moved the high court here against VIDC for forcing Arkacheri on them. They claim the project would help land that is already under irrigation. "We are not against the project as such, but want it shifted to more suitable site. When there is no demand from the people for a dam, why is the project being forced upon them? There is presence of wildlife in and around Sonala and the project may cause man-animal conflict," said petitioner Ramdas Kothe from Sonala. Taking serious note of TOI report, NTCA at Delhi has sought details. "I've been asked to report the developments in Alewadi and Sonala. The matter is in high court. We will reply once the notices are received," said Ravikiran Govekar, assistant inspector general (AIG), NTCA, Nagpur. Govekar will visit both the sites soon. The MTR officials are not concerned as control of buffer lies with territorial wing. Mohan Jha, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Amravati Circle, says, "As the work is being done on non-forest land, we technically have no role to play. But as both the projects fall within 10 km of a sanctuary, VIDC should have taken a NOC from wildlife wing. I'm conveying the same to MTR field director." Executive engineer for minor irrigation department U M Padmane had earlier said that wildlife permissions would be obtained when need was felt. He did not specify who would feel this need. NBWL member Kishor Rithe said state chief wildlife warden should act immediately. "As decided in last NBWL meeting, wardens are our eyes and ears in the states. They should be the first to take note of such violations," Rithe said. "I will visit the site in May first week and if violations are found, will report them to the union environment ministry (MoEF) as a NBWL member," he stressed. Conservationist Prafulla Bhamburkar said VIDC planned to divert Ar river into Kacheri nala but Ar comes from Wan sanctuary. As per Wildlife Protection Act 1972, diversion of river water coming from a protected area was prohibited without nod from chief wildlife warden, he said. Bhamburkar said irrigation department contention that buffer was notified after the projects were sanctioned was not right. "Though the projects were sanctioned earlier, work started after buffer was notified. Hence state wildlife board's and NBWL's permission should have been taken," he said.

Monday, April 23, 2012

July date for Indo-Bangla joint tiger census

TNN | Apr 23, 2012, 12.58AM IST KOLKATA: Finally, there will be a joint survey across 10,200 square kilometres of Sunderbans, spread across Bangladesh and India, this July to determine the exact number of tigers on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The numbers, given by the Bangladeshi forest department and its Indian counterparts till date, are disputed on the ground that big cats frequently cross over the Indo-Bangla border. Every time, Sundarbans authority in India or that of Bangladesh comes up with their respective tiger census figures, they are disputed on the ground of tigers' frequent crossing over the political Indo-Bangla border. Bangladesh and India have signed a protocol to prevent poaching and smuggling of the tigers and their body parts from their sanctuaries. According to the protocol, the two countries will undertake joint scientific research, launch projects to promote understanding and knowledge of Royal Bengal tigers, develop information systems, share research, and exchange personnel for training and education. "There will be an attempt to conduct the tiger census simultaneously in Sunderbans on either side of the border using a common methodology. If necessary, Wildlife Institute of India ( WII) will help the Bangladesh Sunderbans officials with technical expertise for conducting the census," said sources. According to the last tiger census in 2003, there are 440 tigers in Bangladesh. On the other hand, a census in 2006 had claimed that Indian Sunderbans had 270 tigers, which was disputed by wildlife experts. The latest tiger census in India, conducted in 2010, pegged the big cat numbers in Sunderbans between 60 and 90. But the cross-border movement has always put question mark on the claims. According to the protocol, two countries will start patrolling of the waterways that crisscross the mangrove forests on their respective sides to prevent poaching of tigers. The wildlife monitoring is extremely important to the management to ascertain how the species are responding to the current management practices. Based on monitoring results, the necessary changes are made in the management practices to make those more effective. "The tiger estimation has traditionally been done in Sunderbans by using pugmark method, where the fresh left hind leg pug mark impression is collected from the field and analysed," said a Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve officer. The method was field-friendly but due to some drawbacks, Project Tiger developed a new methodology - Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey. Later, camera trapping, DNA tests were included to ascertain the range of tiger population in Indian Sunderbans. All these, forest department officers said, began during the tenure of Jairam Ramesh as Union environment and forest minister. Ramesh had suggested that India and Bangladesh should join hands to protect the Sunderbans from environmental degradation by forming Indo-Bangladesh Sunderbans Eco-System Forum. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh headed to Dhaka, he formalized Ramesh's forum through a specific Indo-Bangladesh Bilateral Environmental Treaty for the Sunderbans. The treaty was to facilitate implementation of the programmes under the forum and mandate inclusive and coordinated reform between the two nations at state, district and grass roots levels. This, according to an official, will help tackle the problems of sensitive ecosystems as a whole rather than in the separate and piecemeal form, currently the norm in both countries. The joint relocation and emergency evacuation programme was considered for sudden climate disasters such as cyclones or flooding. Both nations can use their strong grass roots institutions to ensure policies are practically implemented. Micro-credit programmes like micro-loans for livelihoods and micro-insurance for environmental disasters are also being worked out. Several proposals are being thought for joint and simultaneous execution by both India and Bangladesh. There is no dearth of funds. Last year, the Centre had allocated Rs 300 crore, from the Rs 1,156-crore Integrated Coastal Zone Management project for West Bengal and most of it for Indian Sunderbans. The funds were for prevention of erosion of the islands, building of storm shelters, promotion of ecotourism and livelihood improvement. In addition, a Rs 450 crore central grant was announced for strengthening embankments at critical areas in the Indian Sunderbans. Bangladesh has similar allocations - Rs 700 crore - for its Sunderbans.

Tribal activist fails to impress Melghat villagers

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 23, 2012, 03.59AM IST NAGPUR: Melghat tribals on Friday failed to get carried away by a section of tribal activists from Pune against relocation of villages inside the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Amravati. Last year, three villages - Amona, Barukheda and Nagartas - from the Wan wildlife sanctuary and this year, Dhargad (barring a few houses) - were relocated from MTR. In February, TOI had reported how villagers were better off post-resettlement. Pune-based Kusum Karnik, who works for tribal welfare and runs an NGO called Shaswat in Manchar near Bhimashankar, was in Kasod near Akot on Friday to meet villagers who were relocated from Amona in Wan. She was accompanied by some activists whom she introduced as villagers from the Bhimashankar sanctuary in Pune. Karnik raised the issue of water and bad roads in Kasod. She also asked people whether they were happy and why they opted for relocation. Villagers did not like it as it was like rubbing salt into their wounds. "The water problem has already been solved. Earlier, villagers used to walk three km to fetch water but now there are bore wells and wells in the village. Roads are being made under EGS," said honorary district wildlife warden of Akola Devendra Telkar. According to Telkar, people told Karnik that there was no point in staying in the tiger reserve as there were no education and better healthcare facilities. To this, Karnik said tribals don't need much education and health facilities. Talking to TOI, Karnik said that tribals have been living in the forests since ages. On education, she said that ashramshalas can solve the problem. She accused the officials of forceful relocation. "Tribals were never told about the third option of co-existence," she added. It implies that tribals should live in the tiger reserve only. Karnik didn't come out with any alternative package. As present, resettlement of Dhargad is on and NGOs from Akola and Amravati are busy helping tribals to resettle smoothly. NGO representatives Uday Waze, Amol Sawant, Nilesh Dehankar and Anant Gawande were also present during Karnik's visit. "Karnik's statement has shocked us. Tribals themselves are demanding resettlement as they know that they don't have a future in the reserve. Besides, they are getting a package of Rs 10 lakh per family," Waze said. After seeing that resettlement was not an issue in Kasod, Karnik left for Somthana, a village inside Wan which is in the process of being relocated. She was accompanied by Akot deputy conservator of forests VM Godbole and others. In Somthana, Karnik told villagers that she visited resettled village Kasod and saw their problems. Why do they want to rehabilitate? Villagers told her that Nagartas and Barukheda were remotely situated and were isolated from the outside world. "We too are not safe as we see tigers in the day time. Besides, wild animals damage our crops," they said. To this Karnik said all villages together should have been opposed rehabilitation like she did in Bhimashankar. "This is a conspiracy of the forest department to divide villagers. Amona, Nagartas and Barukheda were forced to leave. Now it's Somthana's turn," she said. When pointed out that villagers were keen to move out, Karnik said they were saying so because forest officials were present during the meeting. She gave examples of Churni, Pastalai and Vairat villages in MTR where villgers are co-existing. However, most families of these villages have already been relocated. In Somthana, some local tribals asked Karnik how can they get facilities like health, education etc. They also wanted to know how landless people get land inside in the forest and how can they save this land from wildlife? To this, Karnik reiterated that tribals don't need much education and health facilities. Karnik's response irked some women and they ended up having a heated argument with her. After the Somthana meeting, Karnik was asked by the officials to visit Dhargad to clear her doubts, but she left as the villagers favoured relocation. Vishal Bansod, honorary wildlife warden of Amravati, said NGOs should come to Melghat to help tribals in resettlement work and not misguide them.

E-eye to protect tigers at Corbett National Park

Published: Monday, Apr 23, 2012, 9:08 IST | Updated: Monday, Apr 23, 2012, 1:15 IST By Mayank Aggarwal | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA Imagine sitting in a cosy room but keeping an eye on hundreds of kilometers of jungle. Battling acute manpower shortage, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has launched a pilot project for 24X7 surveillance of the Corbett National Park using high-tech infrared and thermal imaging cameras. The project ‘E-eye’ (electronic eye), whose estimated cost is around Rs3.5crore, was started around six months ago when ten high-tech cameras having infrared and thermal imaging capabilities were installed on 10-20 metres high towers. They were set up on Corbett’s sensitive southern boundary bordering UP from where maximum poaching cases have been reported in the past. Of around 800 square kilometers of Crobett area, the cameras are covering around 350 square kilometers area to mainly check poaching. The cameras detect anything weighing more than 20 kilograms and send immediate alert to the control room set up at the Corbett. They have powerful zoom capabilities, can pan and tilt and works even in adverse weather conditions. “Nothing can match human patrolling but we have got fantastic results from this project in the last six months as infiltration incidents has come down drastically. We have successfully checked movement of villagers and on one occasion a tractor involved in illegal mining in the park was also caught,” NTCA’s deputy inspector general SP Yadav told DNA even as he controlled cameras using his computer in Delhi sitting nearly 300 kilometers away from the place. As per Yadav, shortage of field staff at tiger reserves is the primary reason for this project and also that cameras work 24x7x365 is an unmatchable advantage. As per NTCA’s data, there is a shortage of over 1,500 officials including forest ranger officers, forest guards, forest range officers and others. NTCA would soon set up a control room in Delhi as well but at present the only control room is at the Corbett itself. “Whenever an alert about any unauthorized vehicle or infiltrators is received, a rapid response team rushes to the spot to check it. E-eye has created fear amongst locals because of which they have stopped entering the protected zone. This is all what we wanted,” Yadav said. “It is for the first time that such a thing has been done. Nowhere in world is such system used in a national park. We will monitor it for one year before we take a final call for doing it at other reserves across the country,” he added. Yadav also explained that with this system’s help, human-elephant conflict can also be avoided as locals can easily be alerted in advance. Besides NTCA, Pune’s Binomial Solutions too has worked on E-eye.

Missing forest labourer found killed by tiger

TNN | Apr 22, 2012, 01.10AM IST NAGPUR: The mystery of the missing forest worker from Bor was solved as remains of his body were found within the radius of 500 metres of a water hole near Chinchkhori. Sitaram Wadwe, a permanent forest labourer (van majoor) posted in Pendhri beat of Bor wildlife sanctuary was attacked and eaten by a tigress. Wadwe had gone missing on Friday. As soon as news about Wadwe going missing spread, a group of 35 villagers and forest officials led by Bor assistant conservator of forests (ACF) Uttam Sawant started a combing operation at 6pm. The operation continued up to midnight, but till then, nothing but faint evidences of a tiger attack like scarf, slipper and some hair of the victim were found. The search operation began again on Saturday morning around 7am. Around 10.30am, Wadwe's skull was found. A Ashraf, chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director, Pench Tiger Reserve, led the search after 9am. He said, "We also found Wadwe's pants in which the keys to his vehicle were found." Nearly the whole body was eaten by the tiger as only a few body parts of the deceased could be found by the search party. His remains have been sent to Selu primary health centre for post mortem. "His family will be receiving Rs four lakh as compensation and an additional Rs 50,000 from Pench Conservation Foundation. His wife will be considered for employment in forest department on compassionate grounds," Ashraf said. Wadwe, along with two other van majoors, had gone to fill a water hole at 10am on Friday near Chinchkhori. As he was on his bike, he asked his colleagues to proceed, saying he would follow them after filling the water hole and cut the tall grass near the spot. A tigress and her cubs were being constantly sighted near the water hole. Despite knowing this, Wadwe went into the area alone. It is possibly not an incident of a tiger attacking humans. "Wadwe was in a crouching position and the attack happened from behind. It is quite possible that the tiger mistook him for a prey and attacked him," Ashraf said.

Forest officials let stray tiger identify its own safari and live there

Published: Friday, Apr 20, 2012, 9:45 IST By Deepak Gidwani | Place: Lucknow | Agency: DNA The sly manoeuvres of a big cat have got the better of trained foresters in Uttar Pradesh. A group of over 20 forest officials and workers have been tracking a stray tiger for more than three months now. Tired of their futile search, they are now coming around to finalising a proposal to let the big cat be where it is, and instead of trying to cage it, develop a tiger safari around it. Forest officials say the tiger, a healthy male of four years, has strayed from its habitat in Lakhimpur Kheri, more than 200 km from Lucknow. It was first sighted in the first week of January in Hardoi, about 100 km from here. The tiger later settled down in the 400-acre farm of the Central Subtropical Horticulture Institute of the Union agriculture ministry at Rahmankheda,about 15 km from Lucknow. Since then, over three months have passed but despite the big cat being sighted a number of times, it has defied all the foresters’ tricks to cage it. Apart from calling in Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) experts, the UP forest department also engaged the services of several darting experts, including one from Orissa, but all their efforts remained futile. The tiger has already made short work of almost a dozen calves and goats tied as bait. Cages put up at several places in the area have also failed to lure it. Some days ago, the foresters had dug a 12-feet deep pit, covered it and tied a bait in a bid to catch the tiger. The cunning cat did come and even fell into the pit but before the forest officials could reach the spot, it surprisingly managed to escape. With their desperation and the costs of the operation mounting by the day, the forest department officials have now prepared a report proposing to develop a tiger safari around the elusive cat. The proposal includes the bringing in of two tigresses which could help in natural breeding. The tiger safari would cost about Rs10 crore and would be only the second one in the country apart from the only one in Bhopal. A senior forest department official says the preliminary report for developing the safari notes that the tiger has made the expansive farm of the horticulture institute its home as it has all the ingredients needed for its natural habitat. The farm has a water body (a ‘nullah’) running through it which has water supply all year round. It has dense forest cover and enough natural prey for the tiger in the form of blue bulls. “Developing a tiger safari there is the best solution in the given circumstances,” says tiger expert and former UP wildlife warden Ram Lakhan Singh. He points out that the tiger has never engaged in any conflict with human beings which, he says, is a very positive sign. “This way, UP will boast of its own tiger safari and the area can be developed as a tourist centre,” he adds.

Three arrested with tiger skins in Chhattisgarh

IANS Apr 20, 2012, 05.29PM IST Wildlife Protection Act|tiger skin|Raipur|Chhattisgarh RAIPUR: Three men were arrested with tiger skins while they were trying to sell these in Chhattisgarh, police said here Friday. According to police, the three men were arrested under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Thursday evening by forest department officials in Kanker district's Bhanupratapur area, some 240 km south from state capital Raipur. According to the forest department, two tiger skins were seized from them and were valued at over Rs.500,000 in international market. "The three were arrested based on specific intelligence inputs. They could be members of an inter-state poaching gang. The police are investigating," Arun Kumar Pandey, forest conservator in Kanker, told IANS over phone. He said that since January this year 17 people have been arrested in Kanker district for anti-poaching activities.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tiger census begins in Nallamala

TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 01.47AM IST HYDERABAD: Amidst growing concerns over the dwindling tiger population in the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) and calls for initiating more conservation measures to increase the population of the wild cats, the forest officials have begun the tiger census in the Nallamala forest. The exercise was launched at Atmakur in Kurnool and Markapuram in Prakasam district four days ago. Sources said the 45-day exercise would also be taken up at Achampet in Mahbubnagar and Nagarjunasagar in Nalgonda district. Forest officials said 200 digital cameras would be used to photograph the pugmarks, which would be analyzed using computers to identify tigers on various parametres. "But the availability of good quality pugmarks suitable for analysis would be not more than 20 to 25 per cent," a senior forest ranger pointed out. The census would be conducted on the basis of digital photographs of the tiger pugmarks and camera tracks which would be evaluated with the help of the latest software. During the exercise, the forest teams would count the pugmarks at water holes in the forest core area spread across 2,527 square km. A retired forest official Tulasi Rao said proliferation of tigers and other wild animals is linked to availability of food, which flourished only when the green cover is improved. NSTR, which has been renamed Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, has its tiger numbers grow to 70 with a healthy male-female-cubs ratio in the last census. In fact, the wild cat numbers plummeted to 30 in the last 6-7 years. NSTR, spread over five districts of the Nallamala mountain ranges and encompassing more than 3,500 square km, was the abode for nearly 100 tigers in 1990. There are over 300 leopards in the sanctuary.

Rescued tiger cub healthy, say Panna Reserve officials

TNN Apr 18, 2012, 11.29AM IST BHOPAL: After being rescued from a cave last week, the feeble wild cub abandoned by a tigress is recovering rapidly and is in good health at Panna Tiger Reserve in eastern Madhya Pradesh. "The two-month-old cub is fast recovering. We are monitoring its health round the clock," reserve veterinarian Dr Sanjeev Gupta said. "The tiger cub is being fed milk and other supplements," reserve field director R S Murthy said. The cub was abandoned by a tigress -- T-1 -- some 15 days ago. T-1 gave birth to three more cubs in a cave on February 16. On March 29, it shifted to another cave some 2 km away but did not carry the fragile cub. It, although, returned to the cave on April 2 and fed the abandoned cub. However, T-1 did not carry the cub. Since then, the reserve authorities kept a watch through electronic gadgets. They found that the condition of the cub deteriorated nine days ago in the cave. The cub was rescued from the cave on April 12. It is being kept in a well-equipped room since then. This cub was born in the second litter. T-1 had given birth to four cubs in its first litter two years ago. Only two cubs survived then, officials said. Felines usually abandon their cubs when they turn weak, according to wildlife experts. After the reserve became devoid of big cat population in early 2009 allegedly due to poaching, the state forest department had translocated four tigresses and a tiger to Panna from different tiger reserves in an attempt to revive their population. The translocation plan has seen success with increasing number of cubs. Now 12 cubs, including two young ones are in the reserve.

Rehabilitation process of Navegaon village begins

TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 02.46AM IST CHANDRAPUR: The rehabilitation of village Navegaon (Ramdegi) located inside Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) practically kicked off on Tuesday after plots were distributed among the beneficiary families. In a programme held under supervision of Warora SDO Ghanshyam Bhugaonkar, a total of 111 beneficiaries picked up their plots through lottery system in the village. After Navegaon villagers agreed for relocation out of tiger reserve, administration identified in all 220 beneficiaries in town under the Centre's 10 lakh rehabilitation package. The villagers were given separate options of cash compensation and rehabilitation. Under option-I, beneficiaries take cash compensation and move out of village on their own, while under option-II, government arranges for beneficiary's rehabilitation on the site selected by villagers. In Navegaon, a total of 119 beneficiaries, including 100 land owners and 19 landless beneficiaries, opted for option-I, while remaining 111 beneficiaries, including 101 land owners and 10 landless beneficiaries, have opted for option-II. "The beneficiaries of Navegaon have selected their rehabilitation site in compartment no. 29 of Chimur tehsil. The land has been cleared of the forest and plots marked. Tenders of the road have been finalized and construction will begin soon. Construction of water supply tank is under progress, while laying of pipeline will begin soon. Two handpumps have also been installed on the relocation site," claimed ex-deputy sarpanch, Azhar Sheikh, who is a representative of villagers to oversee rehabilitation procedure. Officials said that while villagers have decided to build their homes themselves, government will provide them land along with sum for house construction. Apart from this, the government will build amenities like water supply scheme, bus stand, weekly market, gram panchayat, police station, post office, dispensary, water reservoir, primary and high school, play ground and leave open space for community programmes. As plots on rehabilitation site were marked, the gram sabha of the village forwarded a proposal to the administration asking for distribution of plots through lottery system. Therefore, a programme was organized in Navegaon on Tuesday to distribute the plots to 111 beneficiaries of rehabilitation. Landowner beneficiaries were entitled for plot of 371 sq metre each, while landless beneficiaries were entitled for plot of 185 sq metre each. However, those having five or more members in family were given plots with some additional land. The plot distribution started in presence of SDO Ghanshyam Bhugaonkar, Chimur tehsildar Dilip Akhade, Bramhapuri division ACF AN Dhote, Chimur range RFO LM Belekar and president of NGO Eoc-Pro orgnaisation Bandu Dhotre, appointed by high court to facilitate smooth rehabilitation.

Forest officers on pugmark chase to nab runaway tiger near Lucknow

TNN Apr 18, 2012, 03.51AM IST LUCKNOW: It was another day gone in vain at Rahmankhera. The big cat made its appearance in the area by way of its pugmarks only. The tracking team, however, kept waiting for the big cat near a partially-eaten bait, on Tuesday. The team had to intensively search for the tiger as in the morning there was no trace of the feline, giving the apprehension that it could have changed location, specially after the Monday incident. Sources said on Monday the tiger and the combing elephants came face to face. The tracking team had set a half-eaten carcass as bait near the deep pit which has been dug by the team at Rahmankhera to trap the tiger. The tiger had dragged the flesh to the patch of forest and was eating it when one of the elephants combing the area went close it. And as the tiger resisted the forward movement of the elephant, even the jumbo got aggressive. The other two elephants, which were also combing the area, too became aggressive. Seeing the three elephants ganging up against it, the tiger made a quick escape. It wasn't spotted till late Tuesday morning. It was only later in the day that the team could locate its pugmarks. While the tracking team is still focusing on luring the tiger to the bait tied close to the deep pit, this time around the team has also done some fencing around the pit. Experts, however, said the Monday incident shows the big cat can charge if put under pressure. "The tiger is a tiger and the operation has to be handled keeping the fact in time," said Kaushlendra Singh, a wildlife enthusiast.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tiger found dead in Melghat reserve

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 18, 2012, 06.15AM IST NAGPUR: At a time when Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) has come out of the red with improved tiger sightings due to better protection, death of a tiger has come as a big blow to the reserve. With this, the death toll of tigers in Maharashtra in the past five months (since November 3, 2011) has mounted to eight. Maharashtra lost 7 tigers - 5 in Chandrapur district and 2 in Tipeshwar - in the past. A full-grown tiger was found dead 100 metres away from a water hole in Chourakund forest range in Sipna wildlife division of MTR on Monday, around 9pm by the patrolling staff. The last report of a tiger death in Melghat was seven years ago, officials said. "The foul smell led the staff to the putrefied carcass of the tiger. Over 40% body parts including claws and teeth were intact indicating there was no element of poaching," said AK Mishra, chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director of Melghat. "The carcass is 8 to 10 days old and seems to have been eaten by small carnivores," he added. Mishra said that the tiger seems to have died due to old age as its canines showed wear and tear. He also ruled out poisoning as cause of death. "There is regular monitoring of water holes by the field staff and they were already on the job when they traced the tiger," he said. However, the post-mortem report will only reveal the exact cause of death. The park authorities were not sure whether to go for DNA testing to know whether the dead tiger was a male or female. The panchnama and post-mortem was performed in the presence of Sipna deputy conservator of forests, S Yuvraj and Amravati honorary district wildlife warden, Vishal Bansod who was present as the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) representative. Death of a tiger * Sipna tiger died due to old age, canines showed wear and tear * Carcass is 8-10 days old * 7 years ago last tiger death was reported in Melghat * State has lost eight tigers in last five months

Intensive hunt on to trap tiger

TNN | Apr 18, 2012, 03.51AM IST LUCKNOW: It was another day gone in vain at Rahmankhera. The big cat made its appearance in the area by way of its pugmarks only. The tracking team, however, kept waiting for the big cat near a partially-eaten bait, on Tuesday. The team had to intensively search for the tiger as in the morning there was no trace of the feline, giving the apprehension that it could have changed location, specially after the Monday incident. Sources said on Monday the tiger and the combing elephants came face to face. The tracking team had set a half-eaten carcass as bait near the deep pit which has been dug by the team at Rahmankhera to trap the tiger. The tiger had dragged the flesh to the patch of forest and was eating it when one of the elephants combing the area went close it. And as the tiger resisted the forward movement of the elephant, even the jumbo got aggressive. The other two elephants, which were also combing the area, too became aggressive. Seeing the three elephants ganging up against it, the tiger made a quick escape. It wasn't spotted till late Tuesday morning. It was only later in the day that the team could locate its pugmarks. While the tracking team is still focusing on luring the tiger to the bait tied close to the deep pit, this time around the team has also done some fencing around the pit. Experts, however, said the Monday incident shows the big cat can charge if put under pressure. "The tiger is a tiger and the operation has to be handled keeping the fact in time," said Kaushlendra Singh, a wildlife enthusiast.

Tiger monitoring to get more intensive

The Hindu Camera traps, line transects and scat DNA will be used for a more reliable population estimate. File photo: M.A. Sriram The monitoring of tiger numbers, densities and their prey is about to get more rigorous in the 17 States that form the big cat's habitat. Phase IV of the tiger estimation programme embarked on by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will use a combination of tools — camera traps, line transects and scat DNA — to arrive at a more reliable estimate of tiger population in each reserve. This phase of monitoring has begun in Karnataka and Assam. The protocol calls for a greater intensity of monitoring, over a larger area in a shorter period, and will offer a complete handle on at least 90 per cent of the source (breeding) population of tigers every year, said Ullas Karanth, Director, Wildlife Conservation Society (India Program). “It will also for the first time trace individual tigers over time and help arrive at the animal's survival rate.” EVERY 4 TO 5 SQ KM A pair of camera traps will be installed every 4 to 5 sq km of the tiger landscape for a timeframe not longer than 40 to 60 days to avoid over-estimation of numbers. A digital camera trap tiger photo database will be prepared for the reserve with location ID, date and time stamps. While an emphasis has been given to camera traps to arrive the tiger population size, line transects will be used to estimate prey densities. And where camera trapping is not possible, scat DNA samples will be collected over the entire tiger reserve to estimate the minimum tiger numbers in reserves. SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION “Each patrolling team will be equipped with a GPS unit and a digital camera besides the regular equipment (e.g. firearms, wireless, torch, etc),” says the NTCA protocol. COLLABORATION “The new protocols will enable State Forest Departments to formally collaborate with qualified scientists, and enable them to move up a ladder of technical progress, from estimating minimum number of tigers to robust estimates of population density, change in numbers over time, survival and other crucial parameters,” said Prof. Karanth.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tiger and python skins seized in Erode

TNN | Apr 17, 2012, 06.02AM IST COIMBATORE: Three people were arrested by forest officials at Kanchikovil near Perundurai in Erode district late on Sunday night while trying to smuggle tiger and python skins said to worth about Rs 4 crore. Forest officials began conducting a check of vehicles in the area following information from Chennai that some people were attempting to sell skins of protected wild animals and reptiles, Erode forest conservator D Arun told TOI. A special team comprising assistant conservator of forest D Chandran and range forest officer K Ravichandran checked a vehicle on the Erode-Coimbatore Highway and interrogated those travelling in it. The officials seized tiger and python skins from a bag kept inside the vehicle. The arrested have been identified as L Ashwin (22), a resident of Chennai, and Vincent Babu Raj (47) and Balamurugan(35), both from Tirupur. The arrested were produced on Monday in a Perundurai court which remanded them in judicial custody. The forest department officials have sent the seized skins to a laboratory in Chennai.

Birthday of tiger cubs celebrated in Panna reserve

PTI | 10:04 PM,Apr 16,2012 Panna(MP), Apr 16(PTI)Panna Tiger Reserve celebrated the birthday of four tiger cubs today who were born here two years ago after successfully translocating a tiger and few tigresses from different reserves. A tigress gave birth to four cubs on April 16, 2010 after successful translocation of a tiger and few tigresses from other reserves, an official release said. Since then, their birthday has been celebrated by the reserve management every year on April 16. A male tiger and four tigresses were already translocated to the Panna reserve while one more tiger will be shifted after some time, it said. Of the four tigresses, two are wild while the remaining two are reared in semi-wild conditions. Out of these four tigresses, three successfully gave birth to tiger cubs four times. A total of 14 cubs were born so far in the reserve out of which two died in September 2010, the release said. One of the cubs was recently deserted by the tigress identified as T-1 following which the animal was being kept under the close watch of forest officials in captivity. Remaining cubs are learning the art of hunting with their mothers in wild areas of the reserve. An experiment was also successfully carried out to make two tigresses wild from semi-wild conditions. These two tigresses were identified as T-4 and T-5 and T-4 recently gave birth to two cubs, the release added.

Baby boom in Ranthambore, two new tiger cubs spotted

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times Ranthambore is witnessing a baby boom. Two new tiger cubs were recently sighted in the national park, taking the number of cubs born at the tiger reserve in the last 10 months to 20. The total number of tigers in Ranthambore in southeast Rajasthan has now gone up to 46 - 26 adults (12 male, 14 female) and 20 cubs. Of these, two cubs delivered by tigress T13 have been missing for a while. The new cubs were delivered by tigress T9 in Zone 5, which is close to Padra village. The inhabitants of the village were recently shifted out of the park to allow more space for the big cats. “This is a success of the rehabilitation of villagers from the core tiger habitat. We need to protect the natural habitat so that the big cats survive on their own," said Dharmendra Khandal, conservation biologist at Tiger Watch, an NGO, in Ranthambhore. Another village, Kathuli, will also be shifted out of the park soon. Conservationists believe more areas need to be developed as tiger habitats.

Water crisis: Tigers travel miles to quench thirst

TNN | Apr 17, 2012, 02.26AM IST HYDERABAD: It's not denizens alone who seem to be reeling under a severe water crisis this summer. Even animals in the state's largest tiger belt, the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR), are hit by the shortage with only a handful of manually filled 'saucer pits' to quench their thirst. The smaller lakes in the tiger reserve, with a tiger population estimated between 52 and 67, have dried up. Experts note that the tigers usually travel the 25 km distance to reach Krishna river in search of water and could be doing the same now. While the shortage of water seems to be most severe this time around, experts note that the NSTR belt has always been a parched region. Tigers in the belt, they say, are often forced to travel to the Krishna to quench their thirst. "This belt, which is a plateau, is known for water crises. The poor monsoon has aggravated the situation this time," said R K Rao, a former forest officer who has worked extensively in this area during his tenure. The area received just about 70 mm rainfall last monsoon as against the average rainfall of 650 mm it records every year. Adding to the woes of the animals is the rising mercury level that has dried up half a dozen small lakes and streams dotting the reserve forest. Tribals manually fill the handful of 'saucer pits' every alternate day. But that isn't enough considering the large cattle population in the area. "These saucer pits are often emptied by cattle grazing there. Water is barely left for the wild animals," said Farida Tamal, state director of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India) that has now joined hands with the AP forest department to set up solar pumps in this belt. The pumps, Tampal explains, will help fill percolation pits within the forest area and thereby restrict the movement of tigers apart from addressing the water shortage. The pumps are expected to be installed over the next few weeks. Experts stress on the need to address the problem soon as they fear that the shortage might compel tigers to venture into dangerous terrain, increasing the number of man-animal conflicts. "When there is no water available in the vicinity, animals tend to cross the forest limits to reach water bodies or other sources of water (like a hand pump or borewell) located close to habitations. This is perilous," Tampal said.

No evacuations near Kawal Sanctuary

Express News Service HYDERABAD: Even as the tribes living surrounding the Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) in the Jannaram forests of Adilabad district are up in arms against the proposed development of the sanctuary, the state forest department has made it clear that no rehabilitation package will be provided to the local communities as the proposed project would not affect any individual or community in the area. Many rumours on KWS and evacuation of local communities are doing the rounds. Some political leaders are spreading it for their own benefits. Government would not provide any special package for the local communities, said A Shankaran, deputy conservator of forests. He said there is no truth in the allegations that many tribal families will be shifted out of Tiger Reserve by giving rehabilitation packages. “There is no need to evacuate 45 enclosures in the tiger reserve as livelihood of tribes will not be affected. Moreover, the government has not announced that every family around the KWS would be given `10 lakh as compensation,” Shankaran said. This is only a rumour that the Centre has sanctioned `45 crore for the tiger reserve, he said. The KWS is being contemplated to protect, restore, manage and maintain representative biodiversity of the Deccan Plateau in Sahyadri mountain ranges. The project is also aiming at conservation of ecological processes and wild gene pool with focus on tigers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Highways through Indian tiger reserves will destroy habitat

Last Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012, 12:04 0 New Delhi: As India strives hard to protect its big cats, a study in a tiger reserve has found that busy highways and excessive road expansion will destroy wildlife populations and their habitats in the long term, as large mammals avoid such areas. The study, a copy of which is available with IANS, comes at a time when there are just 1,706 tigers left in the country and a debate is on over according the green nod to construction of highways through various tiger reserves. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Centre for Wildlife Studies carried out a preliminary study examining the impact of vehicular traffic on the usage of road edges by large mammals -- elephants, chital (spotted deer), tiger, leopard, gaur (Indian bison) and wild pigs -- along a highway passing through Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka. The team of experts estimated large mammal encounter rates using remotely triggered camera traps on two consecutive sections -- one closed to vehicular traffic and the other open to vehicles only during daytime -- of the Mysore-Mananthavadi Highway, passing through the tiger reserve. "We observed lower encounter rates of chital, gaur and elephants at camera traps in the highway segment with higher vehicular traffic density, suggesting that these species avoided busy highways," said Sanjay Gubbi of WCS-India programme. In all, a total of 681 animal trails intersected the highway. "The density of animal trails along the highway closed to traffic was over 40 percent higher than the one open to vehicular movement, suggesting a greater use of road edges by animals in the nearly vehicle-free segment," said Gubbi. For species such as the wild pig, tiger and leopard, the photo-capture rates were zero-inflated and a more sustained monitoring overtime may enable a better assessment of how these species respond to vehicular traffic along highways. The study pointed out that while there are legally mandated assessments of the potential ecological impacts of such infrastructure projects prior to implementation, rarely are there post-implementation assessments of their real ecological impacts. "Despite the fact that roads could affect numerous endangered wildlife species, there have been virtually no studies assessing their impacts, especially on large-bodied animals. As a result, the impact of roads and vehicular traffic on larger endangered species remains poorly understood in India," the study said. Based on our findings, the study emphasises the importance of continued ecological impact assessments of development projects to identify and mitigate unforeseen impacts. "Further, an approach to development planning that integrates conservation concerns, especially where development projects coincide with ecologically critical areas, is urgently needed in India," it said. The study said sustaining India's growth story is possible only if ecological safeguards, such as environment impact assessment, are not forsaken in the pursuit of economic growth and human development. "If India is serious about achieving this balance, there is no escape but to invest in a more holistic process of development planning that includes - rather than ignores - the conservation of its priceless natural heritage," it added. IANS

Tadoba locals get share in tourism money

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Apr 16, 2012, 03.41AM IST NAGPUR: Two years ago, when the buffer zone to Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) was to be notified, villagers in the area opposed the move. They thought the decision would put restrictions on them. Instead, tigers are bringing money for these very villages in the buffer zone of TATR. The TATR has recently released Rs 27 lakh to 53 villages in the periphery of TATR. Besides, Rs 1.30 crore has also been released under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for various developmental works. "The money was collected by us from tourism receipts in the last two years and deposited in the tiger conservation foundation (TCF)," said V K Sinha, chief conservator of forests (CCF) & field director of TATR. "This is one of the reasons why we increased gate fee to Rs 500," he added. This is for the first time that buffer villages have got their share in tourism money. The amount was deposited in the bank accounts of eco-development committees (EDCs), joint forest management committees (JFMCs) and forest protection committees (FPCs). Of the 53 villages, 16 have EDCs while others have JFMC and FPCs. "We have fulfilled our promise made last year to the villagers," said Sinha. It is learnt that business majors BILT and Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) have also offered help to villages in buffer. Notifying buffer zones around tiger reserves has become mandatory under the tiger conservation plan (TCP) after amendments in Section 38V of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) on September 4, 2006. The TCP aims at protection of tiger reserve and providing site specific habitat inputs for a viable population of tigers, co-predators and prey animals. The villages include Bhagwanpur in Mul where Botezari and part of Kolsa villages inside TATR have been resettled. "There was a demand for solar lights in Bhagwanpur. The amount will be utilised for that," said Sinha. Most of the amount will be spent on procuring cooking gas as these villages put huge biotic pressure on forests for firewood. These villages are in the process of finalizing their micro plans after which more aid is expected. An amount of Rs 3.50 lakh has also been granted under the centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) to repair gobar gas units in villages around Tadoba. These units were non-functional for years together for want of spare parts. "It's not a big amount but symbolic to send a message that buffer zone is bringing money. If not much, Rs 51,000 can help at least 17 villagers procure cooking gas. We've asked the committees not to make any discrimination while preparing list of beneficiaries. More money from other government sources will flow in," Sinha told TOI. Bandu Dhotre, founder of wildlife protection NGO Eco-Pro, hailed the move. "It will ensure integrity of TATR and promote co-existence between wildlife and human activity," Dhotre said.

Adivasis up in arms against Kawal Tiger Project

Nagaraju Koppula HYDERABAD: Tribal organisations and Adivasi leaders are up in arms against the government’s recent declaration on Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary in the Jannaram forests of Adilabad district, and are planning protest rallies and awareness meeting from April 20. Ever since the government announced on April 11 that the sanctuary would be developed, tribal leaders with their respective communities conducted meetings on the issue across the state, and decided to intensify the agitation against development of KWS, according to Midiam Babu Rao, former CPM MP and state president of Girijana Sangham. "We are going to form a group with NGOs working for tribal rights in the state, and will launch rallies and campaigns against the tiger reserve project. Rallies will be held first in the four mandals of Jannaram, Kadem, Gutnoor and Mancherial in Adilabad district. Simultaneously, campaigns will be launched in nine Integrated Tribal Development Agencies in the state,'' he said. The Adivasi leaders demand immediate withdrawal of the government's plan on the sanctuary. “If government wants to work on KWS, it has to hold gram sabhas, conduct socio-economic survey and find out the net present value (NPV) of individuals and tribals in villages which will be affected. We will allow the sanctuary project if the government fulfils our demands and provide reasonable compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation to the tribals,” Babu Rao said, recalling a “bitter'' experience with regard to RR package for the Srisailam tiger reserve and the elephant park in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts. “This time the government cannot cheat us,'' he said. The Kawal Wildlife sanctuary will be the second tiger reserve in the state and the 41st in the country. It is being contemplated to protect, manage and maintain representative biodiversity of the Deccan plateau of Sahyadri mountain ranges along with ecological processes and conservation of wild gene pool with focus on the tiger. About 800 families in 42 tribal habitations around the project site have been dependent on the forest. Adivasis argue that they will face livelihood problem and lose their constitutional safeguards if they are evacuated from the forest. But forest department officials discount the fears. They say the tribals can continue to lead their life as they have been. There will be no relocation of any villager as no village will be affected by the project, says B Ramakrishna Rao, divisional forest officer (wildlife), Jannaram. The government will definitely provide alternative means to those who depend on forests for livelihood. Those who depend on collection of firewood will be given subsidised gas connection. Cattle grazing will continue in modules to be created for the purpose and small-scale industries will be set up to create employment for tribes, he assures.