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Friday, June 29, 2012

Rare black tiger spotted at Similipal Park

Last Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 22:42 0 Tweet Tags: Black tiger, Similipal Park, NTCA Bhubaneswar: A very rare melanistic or black tiger has been photographed in the core area of the Similipal National Park in Odisha. "We have physical evidence on existence of black tiger inside the core area of the tiger reserve in the Similipal National Park," Forest and Environment minister Debi Prasad Mishta said today. Stating that the picture of the rare species was captured on camera, Mishra said "We have not heard of the existence of the black tiger anywhere in the country." He was speaking after the first governing body meeting of Similipal Tiger Conservation Foundation. Explaining the difference between an ordinary tiger and a black one, Regional Chief Conservator of Forest, Similipal, Anup Nayak said "The melanistic tiger also belongs to the Royal Bengal Tiger species and same in size as yellow ones. "The difference between the black and common type of tigers is that the former has wide black patches, while the black colour is prominent in the melanistic tiger," he said. While there was a difference of opinion between the state government and the Centre over the population of tigers at Similipal, Mishra said "We have installed 68 cameras in the core area where density of tigers is more. "A total of 200 cameras will be fixed in the tiger reserve area to count the exact number of tigers at the onset of winter," he said. The state government in consultation with National Tiger Conservation Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forest has also decided to raise a Similipal Tiger Protection Force, the minister said. The force would comprise an assistant conservator of forest, three forest rangers, 19 foresters and 90 special tiger forest guards, he said. Out of the 90 special tiger forest guards, 63 would be regularly recruited and 27 from among local forest dwellers. The age of the forest guards to be deployed for protection of tigers would be below 40 years of age, Mishra said. The meeting also decided on improvement of ecotourism, elephant habitats and flora and fauna of Similipal. Steps were also being taken to shift four villages located in the core area of the tiger reserve, the minister said in reply to a question. PTI

Thursday, June 28, 2012

World Bank, CII join hands for save tiger campaign

Last Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 09:26 0 Tags: Tiger,World Bank,Confederation of Indian Industry,India Wildlife Business Council,India Wildlife,Robert Zoellick,Tiger,save Tiger campaign Washington: In a bid to actively involve the private sector in the global effort to protect tiger, the World Bank and CII have teamed up to establish 'India Wildlife Business Council' that would promote the conservation of the endangered species. Signing an MoU in this regard with Confederation of Indian Industry's Deputy Director General Indrani Kar, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the India Wildlife Business Council would lead the efforts to save tiger from becoming extinct. "At last there is some glimmer of hope for the tiger in the biodiversity that it represents... The new Indian Wildlife Business Council is leading the way. I can't think of a better country to begin with. "It has the potential to completely change the dynamics in the relationship between Industry and conservation," Zoellick said in his address to a meeting at World Bank headquarters here organised by the Global Tiger Initiative. "We are already down to the barest number, a few mistakes here and there and this important species is gone," Zoellick said and hailed the initiative of India's private sector. In her address to the meeting, Indrani Kar said: "We will work with industry through the India Wildlife Business Council to promote green growth models, aligning business strategies focusing on a triple bottom line approach ? on profits, people and planet. "Industry will thus play a major role in integrating biodiversity with the development agenda." The meeting among others was addressed by Hasan Mahmud, Minister of Environment and Forest, Bangladesh; Pema Gyamtsho, Minister of Agriculture and Forest, Bhutan; and US Under Secretary of State, Robert Hormats. Hailing the Indian effort, Zoellick said that bringing private sector into this effort will infuse new ideas and new resources, changing the dynamic between industry and conservation and will serve as a powerful instrument of change. He expressed optimism in achieving the target of doubling tiger population worldwide by 2022 through new business and policy models such as Smart Green Infrastructure which give priority to tiger habitats while designing land and infrastructure plans. In her remarks, Kar alluded to the symbolic value of the tiger as India's national animal. "Given our tracts of forestland, we have a critical role to play in conservation and it is only through partnerships, collective action and effective engagement that we will be able to make an impact. This MoU is a testimony of our commitment towards this cause," she said. According to the MoU, the objective of the IWBC is to promote tiger and biodiversity conservation in the context of sustainable development and to improve the dialogue between business, conservation stakeholders as well as decision- makers. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC) - which comprise the "World Bank Group" - and CII will work together to create and support the IWBC, which will serve as an institutionalised platform for collaboration. Tiger population has dwindled massively due to rapid industrialisation, habitat fragmentation, poaching and illegal trade. A mere 3000 tigers remains in the wild today, confined to only seven of their historical geographic presence. PTI

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Central nod likely for hill station near tiger haven

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times With the Centre likely to regularise over 1,000 land deals in the Western Ghats, besides 10 resorts and 215 windmills that have come up in the ecologically sensitive zone, Maharashtra is all set to get another hill station — New Mahabaleshwar — near a recently created tiger reserve. The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has agreed to rationalise the boundary of the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, now a Sahyadri tiger reserve, subject to a decision of the Bombay HC and the SC-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC). According to a PIL filed by Nana Khamkar in the Bombay HC, rationalisation of boundaries was an attempt to regularise 215 windmills, 10 resorts and 1,200 land deals that had come up in violation of the Forest Conservation Act. “The state government allowed these structures to come up without waiting for rationalisation of the sanctuary boundaries,” it contended. An environment ministry official, however, defended the decision by saying that the state government will add six times the land removed from Koyna (about 100 sq km) to five different wildlife sanctuaries in the state. Moreover, the decision would be subject to a final view of the HC and the CEC, he added. Maharashtra had declared Koyna as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985. It comprised 230 sq km of forested area and 198 sq km of non-forested land. The state’s forest department conducted inspections between 1995 and 1998 to “delete” part of non-forested area from the ambit of the sanctuary. However, over the years, the government allowed windmills and resorts to come up without deleting them. In 2000, the apex court disallowed deletion of land from national parks and sanctuaries. Later, in 2004, the state – without getting the Centre’s nod – declared the development of the New Mahableshwar hill station and included 14 Koyna villages in it. In a few years, most of the land in the villages was sold illegally. In 2010, the state government declared the entire Koyna region as the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. Though the Forest Conservation Act mandates that taking the opinion of the National Tiger Conservation Authority is mandatory before rationalising boundaries, it was not done. Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan said she would take a call on the issue after “returning from Rio de Janeiro by June 28”.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests questions Additional DGP for entering the forest in Nagarhole

HM Aravind, TNN | Jun 26, 2012, 09.23PM IST MYSORE: The forest department officials took objection to a senior IPS officer's tour at the Nagarhole national park late in the evening on Monday leading to argument at the tiger reserve. Following a scheduled visit by the legislative committee on SC and ST welfare, ADGP (civil rights enforcement cell) K S N Chikkerur and PCCF (wildlife) Dipak Sarmah along with a host of officials were at H D Kote. But the visit of the panel was cancelled when the ADGP is accused of entering the tiger reserve's core area in D B Kuppe range without informing the forest department. As he came out of the core area at about 7.30 pm, he was questioned by the PCCF at Dammanakatte Gate, an official said. The argument of the forest officials was that the IPS officer has not kept them informed about entering the forest area in the national park. When contacted, Chikkerur said: Following a complaint, I'd visited Kaimara in the forested area. But since it was dark, I got back when I was questioned by the PCCF. I told him I was on official duty but still he questioned me leading to an argument. I told them I'll keep them informed from next time. According to him, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1976 the CRE cell staff above the rank of Sub-inspector can enter the national park on duty. Our concern is tribal rights and their well being. We are doing that, he shot back.

‘Reclaim encroached govt, revenue land’

Chikmagalur, Jun 26, 2012, DHNS: Prajaprabhuthva Ulisi Andolana Vedike Volunteer Suma Nagesh warned of approaching the court of law, if the authorities fail to reclaim the encroached government and revenue land, in the district. Speaking to presspersons here, she said the officials have details on those encroachers who have encroached within five acre. However, none have any details on the actual encroachment of the revenue and forest land. An attempt is being made to protect the interest of the rich who have encroached the government land, she alleged. According to the report submitted by the Karnataka Government Land Protection Task Force, a total of 9,43,268 acre land has been encroached in the district. This includes, 16,249 acre revenue land and 35,946 acre forest land. About 12.1 lakh acre land has been encroached in the state, of which, 47,000 acre has been reclaimed. As per the information available, about 388.19 acre forest land has been encroached in Mudigere taluk. The forest and revenue department has details on those who have encroached within five acre and not on those who have encroached a major chunk, she alleged. In Tarikere taluk, 14,919 acre has been encroached, in Sringeri—3,070 acre (3,357 individuals), Koppa—11,968.11 acre (2,900 families), Narasimharajapura—4,278.38 acre, Chikkagrahara—2,785 acre have been encroached. About 282.13 acre forest land has been encroached in Aldoor forest division. She said the officials should reclaim the land encroached by the rich and not by the tribals for livelihood. A memorandum has already been submitted to the President, senior officials, urging to reclaim the encroached land. The district administration should not delay the process of reclaiming the encroached revenue land. She said “we do not want Tiger project in Kudremukh National Park. We will oppose any attempt to evict those forest dwellers who have been residing inside Kudremukh National Park.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Goa to be part of Tiger Reserve complex?

Rajendra P Kerkar, TNN | Jun 26, 2012, 04.04AM IST KERI: Bereft of any details of wildlife in Goa, including that of big cats in the state, the 'status of wildlife in the state of Goa' report, nonetheless, offers a roar of support to former environment minister Jairam Ramesh's 'Tiger Reserve' suggestion. Referring extensively to the state's past wildlife censuses, the report by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, states, "The tiger occupied landscape in Goa forms part of the corridor connecting Anshi-Dandeli in Karnataka and Sahyadri Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. Goa can potentially be home to a small feeding population of tigers which would be sustained by immigrants from Anshi-Dandeli as well as Sahyadri. It would hence benefit from being incorporated as part of Tiger Reserve complex." The report, compiled by Bilal Habib and Gautam Talukdar of WII, has synthesized the result of the 2010 wildlife census following the MoEF-laid down protocols of phase-I of country-wide assessment of the status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India. The first census was in 2006. The present report notes, "Goa is not a tiger range state therefore the second and third phases for nationwide monitoring programme were not carried out in Goa." But, referring to the 2010 census that recorded the tiger's presence in Mollem wildlife sanctuary and in the forests of Ponda and Sanguem talukas, it notes, "Tiger occupancy within the state is about 322 sq km." It attributes this to the phase-I monitoring that reported the occupancy of six species of carnivores, with the leopard occupying the large area of 1611.28 sq km, and sloth bears, jackal, wild dog and tiger in 322 sq km. When contacted, additional principal chief conservator of forests Richard D'Souza told TOI, "The WII report has not given specific numbers of carnivores if any, rather they have given about zoning areas." Amrutsingh, president, Animal Rescue Squad, Bicholim, said, "It is surprising for us that status of wildlife in the state of Goa has not mentioned anything about tiger movements, when the area has the presence of a tigress, cubs and a male tiger." Paresh Parob, the newly-appointed range forest officer of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary said, "We are aware about the tigers' movements in the sanctuary and the department has taken necessary steps for the protection of the big cats." Times View After years of hearing the government deny the tiger's presence in Goa, despite the pug marks, the scats, the cattle attacks and in 2009 a very disturbing photo of a slain big cat in Keri, the Wildlife Institute of India's report is a refreshing change. Details would have, of course, corroborated the cause vastly. It's now left to be seen whether the government can change its own stripes on the issue.

E-way to BNP, Bandipur

H M Aravind, TNN | Jun 26, 2012, 06.29AM IST MYSORE: Visitors to Bannerghatta National Park, Bangalore, and Bandipur tiger reserve can now book tickets online. The e-ticket facility will be launched at the BNP which will allow visitors to buy tickets to visit the facility which has a zoo, a museum and butterfly park. The e-ticket for Bandipur will allow visitors to book for accommodation and safaris too. The Zoo Authority of Karnataka, which on Monday introduced the e-ticket facility at the Zoo, said it is extending it to BNP. ZAK chairman M Nanjundaswamy said, "The Mysore Zoo is the first conservation centre in India to allow online booking of tickets." The BNP is attached to the ZAK. The idea is to save time standing in serpentine queues. Tourists can purchase the e-tickets at the zoo's official website Rates are different for adults, children and foreign tourists. The e-ticket will be valid for seven days from the date of purchase and the holders will get a separate entry point to the zoo. "This is convenient for the visitors and also saves paper for us," Nanjundaswamy explained. ZAK is also planning to tie-up with the Mysore Palace Board to allow visitors to purchase a single ticket that allows entry to the Palace and zoo. The zoo will charge Rs 10 per transaction. Those who book online must show an ID proof. As of now, the visitor has to take a printout of the e-ticket and present it at the gate. The zoo is planning to make it paperless soon by sending the ticket to the mobile or iPad.Payments are processed on a secure server and no personal data is collected and stored on any servers as a precautionary measure. Both credit and debit cards can be used and all leading payments processing systems such as VISA and MasterCard are accepted. Along with e-tickets, visitors can pre-order battery-operated vehicles for tours inside the Zoo, pay for usage of still and video cameras, book luggage racks and pay for parking which is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Half of forest department staff help tiger poachers: Maneka

PTI | 08:06 PM,Jun 25,2012 New Delhi, Jun 25 (PTI) More than half of the forest department employees are working in connivance with tiger poachers and help them hunt the big cats, former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi alleged here today. Citing "weak" wildlife conservation policies, Gandhi demanded a slew of measures to strengthen the existing Wildlife Act. "60 per cent of the forest department is taking money from poachers and actually pointing out the places where tigers are, helping them poach," Gandhi told reporters on the sidelines of a function here. She was replying to a question on loopholes in tiger conservation programmes run by the Forest and Environment Ministry in wake of recent incidents of poaching. Gandhi pointed to "weak" laws against poachers and lack of initiative on the part of the government to involve NGOs working in this area. "Poacher, when arrested, gets bail in three days. Government does not involve NGOs and they have very low manpower who are extremely corrupt and help poachers," she said. She also demanded stricter laws against wildlife tourism. "At Corbett Park, they should remove all the hotels because they (tourists) go on illegal elephant ride and they pay money to the forest people," Gandhi said. (more)

Monday, June 25, 2012

CBI probe likely into death of tigers in Panna reserve

PTI | Jun 25, 2012, 01.55AM IST BHOPAL: After receiving complaints of lackadaisical approach in the probe of tiger deaths, Madhya Pradesh government is likely to order a CBI enquiry to investigate the alleged disappearance and poaching of tigers from Panna Tiger Reserve. Officials said Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has sought a detailed reply from the forest department after complaints that a foreign syndicate and an organised gang were involved in the poaching of tigers. "The Chief Minister's Office has received a complaint (seeking CBI probe) and asked the forest department to reply," said Manoj Shrivastava, principal secretary to the chief minister. Earlier this month, the Madhya Pradesh government had declined to order a CBI probe and instead formed a committee to investigate the tiger deaths. Information received in response to an RTI query, the then additional chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh M K Roy had recommended a CBI probe to look into poaching and disappearance of tigers from the sanctuary. "There have been many cases of poaching and disappearance of tigers in the last 5-10 years from PTR. "The state government wants the CBI to probe the conspiracy angle into the disappearance of tigers from the reserve and involvement of international smugglers in it. All such cases where challans have not been submitted should also be incorporated in it (probe)," Roy, who is now the Chairman of Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education, had said in his letter written in January last year. After a year of inter-departmental deliberations, the home department had constituted a committee apparently rejecting the recommendations for a CBI probe made by the former top officer of the forest department. "We have asked the Chief Minister to look into the matter. We are hopeful that a CBI enquiry will be ordered to probe tiger deaths," said wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who has accessed Roy's letter through RTI. As per the norms, the decision to constitute a CBI enquiry is taken by the Department of Personnel and Training, a Central nodal agency in Delhi, on the recommendation of a state Home Department. A report by the Madhya Pradesh government says there was no tiger in Panna Reserve in the 2009 census carried out by the authorities there. There were about 20 tigers in 2006, the report adds. About 19 cases of tiger poaching were reported by authorities in the reserve over the last seven or eight years, the report had found. Currently, there are four tigers in the reserve which have been brought from other reserves. Dubey claimed that there are instances of poaching and trafficking of tigers to various national and international destinations by well-established syndicates which need to be exposed and punished. According to an RTI reply by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, as many as 337 tigers died in and outside various reserves of the country in the last decade due to poaching, infighting, accidents and old age among others. Tiger population in the country was estimated to be 1,706 as per the 2010 data.

Pench eco-sensitive zone proposal ready

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Jun 25, 2012, 12.34AM IST NAGPUR: The territorial, wildlife and revenue department officials seem to have geared up to finalize the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) proposals mandatory under the Environment Protection Act 1986. With ESZ proposals for Nagzira and New Nagzira wildlife sanctuaries and Navegaon National Park and New Navegaon Wildlife Sanctuary already with the government, officials have finalized a similar proposal for the Pench Tiger Reserve. The proposal of Pench was finalized at a meeting on June 22. It includes 49,466ha land with 55 villages, 19,608ha reserve forest (RF), 4,024ha protected forest (PF), 15,124ha Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) area and 10,709 hectare non-forest land. "We were working on it since March and till now four meetings were held. The Pench proposal will be sent to the government through the chief wildlife warden soon," forest officials told TOI. "The 'delineation of ESZs' would be site specific and relates to regulation, prohibition and permission. Once the ESZs are notified by the government, highly polluting units will not be allowed in such zones. If such units already exist they will be allowed to run till the licence exists," they said. Deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) for Gondia said the ESZ proposal for Navegaon and Nagzira is not as per the 10km radius but is site specific depending on the land use pattern. "We started preparing the proposal in January and submitted it in April," Ramarao said. The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has reiterated its request to the states to declare 10km area around the national park and sanctuaries as ESZs. The MoEF had issued fresh guidelines on February 9, 2011 to all the chief wildlife wardens and PCCFs reminding them about the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) decision on March 17, 2005, on delineation of ESZs. There is also a Supreme Court order December 4, 2006 on a PIL filed by the Goa Foundation on the issue of declaring ESZs. The apex court had also directed the MoEF to give a final opportunity to the states to respond to the NBWL decision in four weeks. However, very few states like Haryana, Gujarat, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Assam and Goa forwarded ESZs proposals. In Maharashtra, after court orders, the then PCCF B Majumdar had sent proposals for declaring ESZs around 41 PAs. The first proposal was of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Borivili, but it was rejected looking into the cluster of buildings and apartments that have come up near the park. Of the remaining 40 PAs, the Great India Bustard (GIB) sanctuary in Solapur and Tungareshwar was not recommended for ESZ due to similar problems. Proposals for ESZs for around 38 sanctuaries were referred back by the government. Since then officials sat on the proposals. In November last, principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi initiated the process and accordingly things have started moving. The government has already declared buffer zones for three tiger reserves - Tadoba, Pench and Melghat. Talking to TOI, wildlife expert Kishor Rithe said the purpose of declaring ESZs around PAs is to create some kind of 'shock absorber' for the protected areas (PAs). They would also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection. Officials said many existing PAs have already undergone tremendous development in close vicinity to their boundaries. The best example is of the Adani power plant near the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary and widening of NH6 and NH7 by the NHAI near Navegaon National Park and Pench.

Officials attacked by illegal miners in Ranthambore

Nitesh Kumar Sharma, TNN | Jun 24, 2012, 05.53PM IST JAIPUR: The practice of illegal mining in protected Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan's Sawai Madhopur district came to the light once again on Saturday when a group of illegal miners attacked a team of forest department officers. The team had gone to Khatupura area here to prevent illegal mining and had seized some vehicles, however, they were attacked. Police have registered an FIR against about two dozen people. According to the police, reserve's Sherpura check-post incharge has registered an FIR. "Acting on a tip-off, a forest department team had gone to a Khatupura area to prevent illegal mining. They seized some tractors laden with illegally mined gravel and some equipment used in mining," a police officer said. However, when they were returning with the seized items, a group of about two dozen people started pelting stones on them. "The team officials had to retreat. The attackers got away with the tractors and other equipments," the officer said. He added that the officials informed the police following which a search was launched. However, the attackers managed to escape. "We have identified some of the attackers and will arrest them soon," said the officer. Sources said that the raiding team's officials were not properly equipped to counter such an attack. "They should have informed the police in advance before conducting such a raid," said the officer. The illegal mining is going unabated in Sawai Madhopur, Alwar, Rajsamand and some other districts despite the state government's tall claims of putting a check on it.

Foresters search for tiger in Bundu

Alok K N Mishra, TNN Jun 23, 2012, 11.20PM IST Ranchi police|Ram Mohan Singh Munda|Mohan Singh|Kundan Pahan|Judicial Event|Jharkhand RANCHI: The state forest department has started a search for a stray tiger in Bundu forest, some 40 km from here. Regional chief conservator of forest (RCCF), Ranchi, D K Srivastava has formally asked the Ranchi and Khunti district forest officers and other officials to be on the alert. "The vigil for the tiger has been increased. Forest officials have been asked to hold talks with tribals, especially cattle grazers, for information about the big cat," said Srivastava. The development follows the reported killing of a Maoist by a stray tiger in Bundu forests recently. On June 17 Ranchi police had seized a letter purportedly written by the South Chhotanagpur Zonal Committee commander of the CPI(Maoist), Kundan Pahan, wherein he claimed that a friend of theirs was killed and eaten up by a stray tiger recently. Pahan had addressed the letter to another Maoist, Pragati Da. "A friend was killed and eaten by a tiger recently. It is a huge loss and a cause of great concern. I am just briefing you about the incident. I will tell you more when we meet," the letter says. The letter was recovered by police from an arrested Maoist, Ram Mohan Singh Munda, a close aide of Pahan. Munda was arrested from Tamar block last week. On a few occasions experts have come across stray tigers in the jungles of Jharkhand. "Although tiger is a territorial animal and prefer to live in a familiar geography, it cannot be denied that they venture out of their territories at times," said Khunti DFO K K Tripathi, under whose jurisdiction the Bundu forest falls. The officials are basically concentrating on finding pug marks, information about kills made by the tiger and tips from tribals. "In the last five days my officials in both the districts have contacted several tribals to gather information about the big cat but they have not come across anything substantial," said the RCCF. The RCCF has requested all concerned to provide the department with any information about tigers. Regional chief conservators of forests in the state directly monitor all the non-reserved forest areas. Jharkhand's forest department officials are of the view thinks that only six tigers live in Palamu Tiger Reserve, a 1000 sq km area. The figure has been obtained from last year's census. But experts believe that Jharkhand has more than six tigers. Jharkhand tiger man and member of the National Tiger Conservation Authority D S Srivastava said in the recent past tigers has been sighted in Hazaribag, Latehar, and Koderma districts. "After the news (of a Maoist falling prey to tiger) broke I have also alerted my sources in the forests to watch out for tigers," said Srivastava. "The Bundu forest is not as conducive for a tiger to live in as Saranda. There are chances that the big cat may have moved to Saranda. But the forest department should not stop searching just for this reason," Srivastava added. Certain parts of the 478-sq-km area of Bundu forest are inaccessible to tribals due to presence of Maoists. A thick forest corridor connects this forest through the jungles of Torpa and Raniya to Saranda. Police say Maoist commander Pahan has been hiding in the forests here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

No more breakthrough in Borda poaching case

TNN | Jun 22, 2012, 03.41AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Forest officials are searching the properties of the relatives of five accused arrested in the Borda tiger poaching case. Still investigators have not got any more breakthrough. Five persons were arrested in the case from Ghanta Chouki village recently. Three turned out to be waterhole watchers and two casual labourers of FDCM. But interrogators failed to recover any concrete information about tiger poaching from them. After they were remanded to judicial custody by court, forest officials have started searching at the residences and farms of their relatives for missing body parts. Search was carried out in Asegaon, Janala and Gilbili villages but no evidence was recovered about tiger poaching, sources said. Investigators however recovered two antlers from Rupdas Veladi's residence in Gilbili on Wednesday evening. As he was not available at home during the search, a notice has been issued to him to appear before local forest officer, they said. Investigators are confident of the involvement of the arrested accused in tiger poaching. However they are facing difficulty in establishing their connection with poaching. "We have learnt that tendu leave collectors have seen the accused poachers dragging the dead tiger in jungle adjacent to place where tiger's cropped carcass was found. But due to fear none of eye witnesses has come forward to give the details. Our men are desperately searching the jungle around the spot to trace the location where tiger was poached and cut into pieces," said an officer involved in the investigation. Forest officers are trying to approach every tendu leaves collector who was in that area on the fateful day. Though they have failed to find the location where tiger was poached, but they suspect that poaching was carried out with the help of wire traps in nearby jungle where carcass was recovered, sources claimed.

Lift irrigation to give twist to relocation of TATR villages

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Jun 22, 2012, 04.00AM IST NAGPUR: The lift irrigation project in Bhagwanpur for relocated families of Kolsa and Botezari, the two villages inside Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), is all set to give impetus to the stalled rehabilitation process. In May 2007, 49 families from Kolsa and 79 from Botezari were relocated in Bhagwanpur in Mul (Chandrapur) to create inviolate spaces for tigers. It was expected then that the relocation, claimed to be one of the best by the officials, would set a precedent, but it went awry and relocation of all the villages in TATR was stalled. Not only the remaining 97 families of Kolsa, other villages - Palasgaon (Shingru), Rantaoldi, Navegaon (Ramdegi) and Jamni refused to move out over relocation mess. "The lake was at the lower side while agriculture fields were at the top. It was difficult to bring water from there to our fields. Secondly, the agriculture land allotted to us was rough and prone to be infertile," says Saitra Kannake of Botezari, a landless who has settled in Bhagwanpur. However, a lift irrigation project is all set to change the stalled relocation, which has already started to look up. Work on the Rs 1.06 crore scheme which started in December, is nearing completion in Bhagwanpur. The project has been specially launched under accelerated irrigation benefit programme (AIBP) of the Central government. "Now water will be taken directly to the fields from the distribution chambers built along the Andhari river. Three separate lines - two 1,200 metres each and one 800 metres have been laid," said Mukesh Rane, executive engineer for minor irrigation (local sector), Chandrapur-Gadchiroli. "Villagers have posed a challenge saying bring water first then only we will come," Rane says. "I'm confident that the scheme will help irrigate 100% rabi and kharif crops as there will be water available till March," he adds. Bandu Dhotre, president of Eco Pro, Chandrapur, who along with Tiger Research And Conservation Trust (TRACT), Nagpur, is helping the forest department to push relocation, says if lift irrigation is one reason, things started moving after high court intervened in 2010. "We conducted a re-survey of Bhagwanpur to understand problems of villagers. These issues were put up at various forums building renewed trust among the villagers. Farmers whose land was infertile go fresh pieces of land," Dhotre says. After efforts from Eco Pro and TRACT, second phase of relocation of 97 Kolsa families started early this year. Of the 97, 24 families have moved out. Of them, 15 went for Option I (Rs 10 lakh cash package) while nine went to Bhagwanpur under Option II. "We hope post-monsoon more families will join Bhagwanpur, the time when lift irrigation will be fully operational," Dhotre told TOI at the lift irrigation site. "Kolsa villagers are keen to move out but a section of landlords in the village is allegedly stopping others. A vicious atmosphere has been created by them so that others don't go. Shifting of more families would mean problem of farm labourers and hence the opposition. But now lift irrigation will break the jinx," says Dhotre. Once a strong opponent of rehabilitation, Sudhakar Madavi of Kolsa has already shifted to Bhagwanpur recently. He hopes lift irrigation will solve agriculture and drinking problem of villagers. The village has already been connected with roads now. Creating Space For Tigers * Over 1,000 hectare land will be vacated if remaining Kolsa, Jamni, Rantalodi, Palasgaon and Navegaon villagers are relocated. * Palasgaon villagers have agreed to move to Talori in Warora tehsil but work has not yet started. * Of the 240 families from Navegaon, 129 have opted Option I and 111 Option II. First instalment already distributed. * Of the 222 families in Jamni, 108 have taken Option I while 114 Option II. Navegaon and Jamni agree to go to Khadsingi near Chimur. * Rantalodi village, which so far opposed rehabilitation, too has responded positively. Caption: 1) The agriculture land in Kolsa has been taken in possession by the forest department after the owners were relocated recently. 2) The water chambers on Andhari river from where water will be lifted through the pipelines and supplied to Bhagwanpur.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Karnataka government flouts green laws in Bandipur, plans a building

TNN | Jun 20, 2012, 05.53AM IST MYSORE: Government-owned Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), a unit involved in eco-tourism, is planning to raise permanent structures at its resort on the fringes of Bandipur Tiger Sanctuary in gross violation of norms pertaining to eco-sensitive zones. As per the guidelines and rules worked out by the ministry of forest and environment and Project Tiger authorities, no commercial activity can be taken up in eco-sensitive zones. Even the raising of permanent structures related to commercial ventures is prohibited. If villagers or locals plan to build/ alter their houses/ bungalows, they have to seek permission of a committee constituted for the purpose. But in violation of all such norms and guidelines, JLR authorities at Melkamanahalli unit are planning to build staff quarters and other structures to improve the facilities for tourists and resort employees. There are also plans to build a compound and parking unit for vehicles. When contacted, Bandipur Tiger Sanctuary director Kumar Pushkar said according to a communication received by him, JLR authorities have decided to drop the construction of staff quarters with the plan going against the norms on eco-sensitive zones. "Earlier, they had decided to build the quarters and started related works. But they have stopped now," he said, adding that no commercial activity or work related to commercial ventures will be allowed in 3-6-km radius of the sanctuary. However, JLR MD Anu Reddy tried to defend himself, saying that they are going ahead with work on the staff quarters. "Building staff quarters is not a commercial activity," he said, adding: "We have dropped the idea of building a compound wall. We have now decided to put chicken mesh around the resort and create parking space at a place adjoining the resort." He said Chamarajanagar district administration has allotted the land for the purpose. "We are not violating any rule related to eco-sensitive zones," he said.

Don’t send spotboys to fetch me: Salman Khan

Vickey Lalwani, Mumbai Mirror | Jun 20, 2012, 09.07AM IST Salman Khan has issued a new and bizarre diktat on the sets of his film. Says the shoot will commence only when he is ready Salman Khan, who of late had started giving his 'inputs' and rather strong 'suggestions' on the sets have issued a new diktat. A source from the unit of Yash Raj Films' Ek Tha Tiger told us that the actor has now barred unit members from summoning him for a shot while he is in his vanity van. Needless to say, this new injunction issued by Salman has put the unit in an inconvenient situation. "Salman wants to step out of his vanity when he feels like. Nobody can call him for a shot. The entire unit has to simply wait for him to alight. Even if it means delaying the shoot," added the source. But the Ek Tha Tiger team has been grinning and bearing it. "Salman often comes to the set late these days. Then he simply locks himself in his vanity van. He pays no heed to the shot that is being readied or is already prepared for him. The filmmakers can't schedule his shots with other actors either since you can't make Salman wait," an eyewitness told us. Salman had been throwing his weight around with the makers of the film for some time now. Earlier, we told you how Khan had refused to travel to Morocco to shoot a promotional song and had ordered for a set to be built in Film City to represent the foreign location. Helpless, the unit had to comply. While star 'tantrums' is not a new phenomenon in the film industry, Salman Khan's latest set of rules and regulations have surely come as a shock to the makers of the film. Perhaps, the actor has taken the tag of Tiger a bit too seriously.

Second attempt on relocation of Sultanpur tigress today

ALWAR: Preparations have begun once again for relocation of the Sultanpur tigress from Kota to Sariska. A team from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, will reach Kota on Wednesday and will attempt to trace the tigress before relocating it to Sariska. In its earlier attempt, the WIII team had failed to trace the tigress in Sultanpur. The team had tried locating the tigress between March 9 to 15 but its attempts proved futile after which the team had to return. The Sultanpur tigress had made its way from Ranthambore to Kota about two years back and till now it is staying there. Since the tigress can become a mother the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), on a request from the state forest department, has given the nod for its relocation to Sariska. Meanwhile, it's a new radio collar now for tigress T-5 in Sariska. The radio collar on the tigress was changed by a team of WII, Dehradun, on Tuesday morning as the old one had become defunct. According to officials in the forest department, "The old collar had become defunct for quite some time and we were able to track the tigress only by its pug mark. But now we will be able to monitor it well." The WII team had reached Sariska on Monday traced the tigress. "On Monday, the tigress was traced near the Suli Ka Nullah in the Sukola area. On sighting her we fired a dart and tranquilized the tigress after which the radio collar was changed. The entire process just took 20 minutes and the tigress by then regained consciousness and was up on her feet," a source said.

‘Give proper compensation to natl park residents’

Sringeri, June 19, 2012, DHNS: Taluk Panchayat members have warned the Forest Department Wildlife Division that they would be paving way for another struggle in the region if people are evicted from Kudremukh National Park area without giving proper compensation. Addressing the all members’ meet on Monday, TP Vice-President Nuthan Kumar said that there are several complaints pouring in informing that forest department officials have been threatening and harassing the people living in Kudremukh National Park area. The meet demanded complete details from forest official K Srinath with regard to complaints that areca trees were fell by the officials in the plantation of Kerekatte residents Virupaksha and his father Manjappa. Further the house also said that there have been complaints with regard to forest department not giving proper compensation to Srinivas from Kattigadde, who wanted to leave the place and go voluntarily. Responding to this Srinath said that Kattigadde Srinivas has received compensation from service organisation named Tiger Project. Intervening at this point, the members raised objection saying that Tiger Project has not been functioning judiciously in the region. Sent out of schools During the meeting, many members brought to the notice of the house the practice followed by some private schools of forcefully giving Transfer Certificates to students of eighth and ninth standard who are not good at studies, with the view of enhancing the results in 10th standard examination. Further, those students studying in tenth standard who are not good at studies are being asked to appear for the examination privately. The BEO was asked to take steps to see to it that such incidents do not happen in the region in future.

Stop picnics, start eco-tourism in Sundarbans: Bengal forest dept

Subhro Niyogi, TNN | Jun 19, 2012, 01.05PM IST KOLKATA: Taking a leaf out of the mandatory in-flight instructions that stewards and stewardesses deliver prior to each flight, informing passengers how to fasten the seat belt and what to do in an exigency, the state forest department wants all tourist agencies in the Sunderbans, including boat owners, to spell out the dos and don'ts to tourists before they embark on the tour. The proposal is part of the first serious initiative to transform the tourist scene in the Sunderbans that is currently nothing more than picnic tourism. A majority of the 3 lakh visitors who go to the Sunderbans do so to have fun without bothering about the ecology. During the day, they feast on board, litter the creeks and rivers with thermocol plates and plastic bottles and dancing to loud music at night while the boat is anchored mid-river. ""We want to end irresponsible tourism and promote eco-tourism in the Sunderbans. To do so, we need the cooperation of all stakeholders. This is a clarion call for all-NGOs; tour operators; boat and lodge owners-to partner with the forest department and create awareness on the need to preserve the region's ecology while conducting tourism activities,"" Sunderban Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Vyas told a stakeholders' meeting in the city on Monday. Though the draft of what guides and helpers on boats will tell tourists before the trip is yet to be worked out, it will broadly be along these lines: ""Dear guests, welcome on board. Fasten your seatbelts for a trip to the Sunderbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During this journey through the Sunderbans' rich biodiversity that is home to the world's largest tiger reserve, one must not disturb the fragile ecosystem. Plastic carry bags are strictly prohibited. Those who have plastic bags must deposit them and take jute bags in return. Do not throw plastic bottles, thermocol plates or any litter into the water. And please maintain silence, speaking only in whispers so that everyone can enjoy the sounds of the forest. Playing loud music is strictly prohibited. Here's wishing you a very pleasant experience."" Suggesting a three-pronged effort to curb pollution in the Sunderbans, Vyas said the forest department would form strategic partnerships for education and awareness of tourists and then undertake enforcement of existing laws to wipe out the menace. The department has also suggested a strict ban on plastic glasses, thermocol plates and polybags into the region. ""NGOs can distribute jute bags to boat and launch operators. If any tourist has a plastic bag, it can be confiscated and a jute bag handed out at a price or for free. Boat operators can also use melamine plates, glasses and spoons that can be washed and reused. Also, NGOs can network to check entry and exit of packaged water bottles,"" Vyas said. Incidentally, the plastic ban has been in force for over a decade but has not had much effect till now due to lack of sustained movement. However, following complaints from tourists and a section of tour operators of indiscriminate littering, the forest department has woken up to the situation and is now seeking the help of stakeholders to reign in the problem. ""We don't want to start with fines. But if the situation does not improve soon, we will have to take punitive action. Responsibility will be fixed on tour and boat operators to ensure that they do not allow littering and use of loudspeakers. NGOs will be encouraged to carry out periodic clean up drives along the river banks. Unless we adopt these practices, the Sunderbans will be over-run by waste plastic and thermocol,"" Vyas added.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

9 tigers killed in Tadoba tiger reserve since 2011

Pradip Kumar Maitra, Hindustan Times Nagpur, June 18, 2012 Lack of professional wildlife management by the state wildlife wing has made tigers vulnerable to poachers in Vidarbha. Nine tigers were killed in the buffer zone of the famous Tadoba Tiger Reserve since January 2011. Lack of funds both from the state and central government has made things worse. A mutilated body of a full-grown tiger was found in the Tadoba buffer zone and another tiger was trapped by poachers and killed in the reserve last month. What's even more a matter of concern is that 13 big cats were killed within Tadoba's core areas in last 10 years. Of these, two tigers were killed in 2002-2003 - one of them through poisoning by poachers in Mohrali jungle while another was killed in 2011-12 in core area of reserves as per statistics available with the state wildlife wing. Sources vehemently believe the presence of an inter-state poachers' gang in the area, who strike at will, in cahoots with the help of locals and forest personnel. Five persons arrested on Friday included three forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) employees in connection with a poaching of a tiger whose mutilated body was found in a buffer zone of Tadoba last month. Still, this did not alarm the state wildlife wing. It replaced Tadoba field VK Sinha with one Virendra Tiwari, who never worked in wildlife wing in his two decade service in the state forest department. Sinha too did not work a single day in wildlife wing in his forest career before joining as field director of Tadoba. Situation is the same in neighbouring Pench tiger reserve in the state. A Ashraf is the field director of the reserve. He too has no previous experience for working either in wildlife sanctuary or tiger reserves. Moreover, none of these officers underwent training at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The ongoing mess, particularly growing poaching cases in the Tadoba and other reserves are the result of inexperienced officers posted there who have hardly knowledge about the wildlife management, said a senior forest officer, who once worked in Tadoba. Only Sunil Limaye, CCF Borivoli National Park, Mohan Karnard, CCF (Wildlife), Kolhapur and field director of Chadoli Tiger reserve and KP Singh, the field director of Melghat tiger reserves, are the ones who have either worked in wildlife sanctuaries/tiger reserves, or trained by the WII. "There are 20 seats for the wildlife training in WII. Not a single officer from Maharashtra attended the training," informed Kishore Rithe, member of National Board for Wildlife. He cites inadequate staff as a reason why the government could not spare officers that compelled the institution to fill up the vacancies for the training from forest officers from Thailand, Bhutan and Bangladesh."Without proper training how can we expect appropriate wildlife management in sanctuaries and national parks?" he asked. "At a meeting of the National Board for Wildlife, held on June 13 adopted a resolution that if the state fails to send officers for wildlife training in next three years, the Central fund for the conservation and protection of wildlife should be stopped," Rithe informed. Lack of funds in another reason hindering scientific wildlife management, he claimed. "The state forest received just Rs. 176 crore as plan budget in this financial year. Of this, wildlife wing gets hardly Rs. 7-8 crore for its 36 wildlife sanctuaries and six national parks in Maharashtra. The wildlife wing also gets an additional 12 crore from Central government for conservation and protection of tiger reserves and sanctuaries," informed Shree Bhagwan. "The budget is a pittance. We tried convincing the state finance secretary for increasing the plan budget for state wildlife, but to no avail," said Rithe, who also runs Satupuda Foundation, an NGO dedicated for the conservation and protection of wildlife in central India. Under the scanner Five persons, including three employees of forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra were arrested in connection with tiger poaching in Tadoba's buffer zone near Mul-Channdrapur road last month. The involvement of forest employees shocked wildlife lovers. The poachers took away the head, paws and vital organs of the tiger, leaving behind a chopped tail and other body parts stuffed in gunny bags dumped on the road. The tiger was killed by way of electrocution and chopped the animal into pieces. Forest cover Maharashtra has around 50,650 sq kms forest cover which is 16.46% of the state's total geographical area. The state has 8,739 sq km of very dense forest while the area under moderately dense forest is 20,834 sq km and open forest in the state amounts to 21,077 sq kms. Maharashtra has six national parks and 36 wildlife sanctuaries. These protected forest areas constitute 2.5% of the state's total geographical area and 15% of the forest cover. Census According to the 2010 census, the population of tiger has gone up from 103 in 2006 to 169 in 2010. Wildlife experts estimate that the tiger population has now touched 200 mark in the state and in Tadoba tiger reserve it is 69 from 53 as compared to the last census. Tadoba is probably the first tiger reserve in the country to spot as many as 32 tiger cubs since January 2010. Fact file ** There are four tiger projects in the state --- Melghat, Tadoba, Pench (all in Vidarbha) and Sahyadri (Western Maharashtra). ** Tadoba tiger reserve, one of the country's oldest national parks, was in the news recently for better wild cat conservation and birth of 32 tiger cubs in the area since January 2010. The reserve is spread over 623 sq kms of high hills and lush valleys covered with dense teak and bamboo forests. It is also the home to wild dogs, leopards, sloth bears, bison and hyenas and jungle cats, apart from 69 tigers. ** Melghat is located on southern offshoot of Satpura Hill Range in Amravati district, bordering Madhya Pradesh with an area of about 1673.93 sq kms. The forest is home to around 50 tigers and an equal number of leopards. ** In Pench tiger reserves, bordering Madhya Pradesh is located at a distance of 70 kms from Nagpur and home for around 20 tigers. ** Sahyadri, the new tiger project of the state was set up by including Chandoli Natonal Park and Koyana Wildlife Sanctuary of western Maharashtra. The reserves spread over an area of 741.22 sq kms. It houses an appreciable variety of bird and animal life, including nine tigers and 66 leopards.

An indefinite fast to save tigers

TNN | Jun 19, 2012, 01.23AM IST NAGPUR: What veteran Gandhian Sundarlal Bahuguna achieved with the 'Chipko' movement in the forests of the Himalayas in the 70s and more recently Anna Hazare with his hunger strikes against corruption, an unheralded wildlife lover from Chandrapur is trying to replicate to save tigers in Maharashtra. Bahuguna's 'Chipko Andolan' was a movement that practised the Gandhian methods of satyagraha and non-violent resistance by hugging trees to protect them. Hazare had the nation's attention on corruption in high offices with his hunger strikes and 'maun vrats'. Bandu Dhotre, founder president of Eco-Pro, an ecology protection NGO from Chandrapur, is planning to sit on an indefinite fast from July 2 in front of Van Bhavan, the state's forest headquarters here. Though this may perhaps be the first time someone is attempting such a thing for the protection of wildlife, fasting for a cause in not new to Dhotre. The 32-year-old wildlife activist hogged limelight after his fast unto death three years ago against allotment of coal blocks to power major Adani in Lohara in the buffer area of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) buffer. Perturbed by the recent spurt in poaching, he wanted to do something to save wildcats. Dhotre, who works closely with the forest department, feels the series of measures announced by the government to save tigers are just cosmetic. "The government is beating about the bush and is treating the symptoms instead of the cause. The remedy is to treat the area around the reserve at par with the core area," he says. Dhotre, who has the support of the Nagpur Environment Protection Group (NEPG) and other NGOs, adds that the forest department's focus is on Tadoba when the "problems lie outside". "Tadoba tigers get VIP treatment while those outside live 'below poverty line," he says. Poaching is one issue but widening of roads, man-animal conflict, illicit bamboo felling, encroachments, open wells, mines and power projects further pose serious threat to tigers outside Tadoba. Dhotre, who has created a team of over 100 volunteers in Chandrapur some of who are former poachers themselves, feels Chandrapur district is one of the best tiger abodes in India. To protect tigers, he says the rich forest areas under the Forest Development Corporation of India (FDCM) should be handed over to the forest wildlife department. "The FDCM is into felling of timber and wildlife management practices are zero and that's causing problems," he said on Monday. The government should merge forest areas with FDCM and those with Chandrapur division to make it a large wildlife area. The wildlife lover feels transfers and postings are small steps. What is needed is creation of new posts and reorganization of beats by keeping it to 500-700 hectares under one guard instead of 1200-1800 at present. Dhotre's demands may be genuine but his counterparts in Chandrapur are wary of the stir. "We agree to his demands but his 'ekla chalo re' policy is unacceptable. His demands have been raised by us earlier," says Suresh Chopne, president of Green Planet, Chandrapur. Chopne heads a federation of 8-9 NGOs in Chandrapur. However, this doesn't dilute the efforts of Dhotre who would be one among the hundreds of NGOs sitting on hunger strike for the sake of tigers.

Suspected poachers remanded to magisterial custody

TNN | Jun 19, 2012, 01.09AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Forest officials investigating the Borda tiger poaching case failed to obtain any concrete evidence about poaching from the five suspects during their forest custody remand. As their FCR ended on Monday, they were remanded to magisterial custody for a week by the court. Five accused poachers were arrested on June 15 on suspicion of their involvement in poaching a tiger whose carcass was found chopped into 11 pieces without head and paws at Borda jungle under Chandrapur forest range. Accused Mengorao Todase, his son Prakash Todase, Swarup Talande, Rambhau Gawde and Ashok Gawde belonged to village Ghanta Chouki and were connected to FDCM as waterhole watchers and casual labourers. Forest officers had managed to recover a bunch of wire snares and some antlers from the accused, but the investigators failed to get any concrete proof of their involvement in tiger poaching. Officers were hoping to gain clues about weapons used to chop the tiger, its missing body parts and other accomplices involved in the poaching. Sources claimed that the accused remained mute over the poaching and continued with evasive answers about closure of waterhole. After their FCR ended on Monday, all of them were produced before the court which sent them into magisterial custody till next Monday. Court will decide over the bail of the accused during next hearing, forest department sources claimed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Animal kingdom reels under a human invasion

Pinak Priya Bhattacharya, TNN | Jun 18, 2012, 06.51AM IST Scene 1 (On Murti bridge, NH-31 , Jalpaiguri district): It's homecoming time and the sprightly Murti roars along its gravelled pathway into the lap of the jungle . The sun, too, having finished its day's business, slides idly behind the horizon of towering willows that make up the fringes of the Gorumara National Park. As birds chatter and insects screech, the wind whips up the Dooars crescendo — a melody of cacophonic sounds that welcomes a visitor in these sylvan plains of North Bengal and Assam. This otherworldly charm is broken by a gruff, rasping voice, bringing the focus back on the business at hand. "The site is ready," says the weather-beaten face, a narrow smile on the pan-stained lips. It is Bhola (name changed), one of the 'land lords' of the region. "Let's go," he adds, "And please remember my commission, in cash." The second part of the sentence is spoken like a warning. Scene 2 (Two hours earlier, at a watchtower inside Gorumara): The speck of green on the white river is obviously what has caught the deer's attention. It sniffs at it, licks it and even gives it a playful poke with its sharp horns even as the foreign object — a green crushed beer can — floats downstream and bobs up in front of another couple of deer grazing a few hundred metres away. But not given to the free-spirited ways of their thirsty mate, they ignore the invader. The rare sights are captured in a flurry of clicks by excited tourists, oblivious to the alarm bells they set off in the mind. The contamination is spreading fast. Bhola and the beer can are representatives of the twin maladies that have infected the picturesque and richly bio-diverse Gorumara forest — unregulated tourism and an explosion of commercial activity around the forest's perimeter. Along with the Buxa and Jaldapara reserves, Gorumara forms Bengal's famous forest troika in the Dooars as the home of the one-horned rhinoceros and over a century-old forest retreat established during British rule. The upscale tourist's fantasy and the creative Bengali's muse, the lone bungalow deep inside the forest's belly was for long civilization's only window to Gorumara's animal kingdom — elephants, bisons, leopards, the rare hornbills and of course, the rhinos. Wildlife activist Belinda Wright's mother Anne has fond memories of the Gorumara of the 70s. "I knew the place well. In those days, the only place to stay there was the forest bungalow with its lovely viewing point that looked down on the jungle," she says. If Anne were to visit Gorumara today , she would understand the scale of the invasion. The forest bungalow and its viewing point remain intact but have lost their coveted status. What was for close to a century a forested stretch of highway interspersed with tea gardens is now home to about 90 resorts — average to plush, budget to luxury — that began sprouting at the turn of the millennium . At a vantage point in the Dooars, and a few hours' drive from Darjeeling , Kalimpong and Gangtok, Gorumara is a tour operator's dream. A dream that has been realized in the maze of resorts that now have the national park in a stranglehold and the number of tourists — at least 70,000 a year, according to Kamal Bhowmick, secretary of the Lataguri Resort Owners' Association. While officials like to harp on the development story and the fillip to the local economy, the source of the beer can floating inside the forest reveals the real danger of such a lopsided theory. On the partially dried up Murti river bed, at least a couple of kilometres past a 'No Entry' board that classifies the area as a part of Gorumara National Park, loud music blares from the decks of an SUV parked close to the river. A group of around 10 youths matches steps with 'Chammak Challo' and takes large swigs of beer, flinging can after can into the river that's flowing straight into the forest . "What better way than this to celebrate nature," one of the youths, an engineering college student, says. Curious case of Gorumara Gorumara has no buffer area. It may seem strange but, as forest officials point out, many protected areas, including reserve forests across India, have no buffer area. Yet, Gorumara is different. Some of the resorts in Lataguri — which alone hosts about 34 of the 90 that dot the region — Murti and Dhupjhora are right on the fringes of the forest, well within the range of a straying animal. The forest department says it has no right over the land and no control on construction activities on them. "Investors only need permission from the government's land department as these are private lands," says Bhowmick. Officials say in case of tribal lands, investors strike partnership deeds with local villagers, who have first ownership rights over the land, and give them a slice of profits. In short, there seem to be no legal hurdles to building a commercial establishment on the fringes of Gorumara, as is evident from the large-scale construction work visible on three sides of the forest. A senior state forest official points out that the Pollution Control Board (PCB) does have a rule that makes it compulsory for commercial premises within a kilometre of a national park to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC). "It's the only real hurdle for investors . Unfortunately, there is no clarity on who should take action if the NOC rule is violated because the land technically does not belong to the forest department ," the official adds. While conservationist Raghu Chundawat blames this on "too many legislations , but no flexibility" , and green activists slam the authorities for ignoring the carrying capacity of the forest , the government argues Gorumara's core area is safe and tourism poses no threat. "Gorumara is a well-protected forest," says state forest secretary Subesh Das. "Our basic policy is that tourists will be only allowed in the forest's periphery, not in the core areas. There is also a demand that more tourism facilities should be allowed in the region," he adds. It's this demand that has made the land around Gorumara hot property. And brought into business Bhola and his growing clan. 'Land lords' : A big deal "This is the best site you can find to set up a resort," Bhola says, pointing to the river, which is less than 100 metres from the 15-bigha site he is trying to sell. "There will be nothing between your resort and nature. Perfect for honeymoons ," he adds with a wide, toothy grin. The meeting with Bhola was set up through some local contacts. The TOI correspondents met him and his two aides at a spot of their choice just outside Gorumara forest, posing as investors scouting for land. "Don't worry about the rules, just remember our commission , 4%, and everything will be taken care of," Bhola says as a possible 'deal' is discussed. Though he works as a tour operator's local partner, Bhola says fixing land deals is what earns him the big bucks. Agents like him hook up with potential buyers, show them the land, set the terms of the deal, bargain a price and finally set up a meeting with the actual land-owner . Land prices range anywhere between Rs 5lakh - Rs 10lakh per bigha, depending on the location and infrastructure . The 4% commission is charged from both the buyer and the seller . So, in a deal worth Rs 1crore, the 'fixer ' earns Rs 8 lakh. "It's good business," Bhola says. And it's brisk business, too. Plots on sale in Lataguri and Murti are advertized on prominent real estate sites and portals like Quikr. With the Gorkhaland agitation making Darjeeling an unreliable holiday spot and quake-shaken Sikkim still recovering from last year's tragedy, the Dooars has emerged as the preferred tourist destination in the east. A resort around Gorumara is, therefore, considered good investment with longterm profitability. Conservation vs Development The tourism dilemma is at the heart of a raging debate on how to protect natural wealth like forests and yet put them to profitable use. But the answers are lost in the din of political rhetoric, vested interests and highdecibel activism. Some of India's biggest tiger parks like Periyar, Ranthambore, Dudhwa and Mudumalai don't have buffer areas and are grappling with the same tourism conundrum as Gorumara. The area around Corbett national park was recently declared a silent zone — noise pollution is banned in a 500-metre radius around the forest — by the Uttarakhand government on the orders of the high court. But forest officials say every time a tourism project near a protected area is opposed, they are labelled "anti-development" . Many villagers around Gorumara, for instance, don't complain about the resort boom. "Earlier, a youth would make Rs 2,000 a month cutting wood. The same youth now makes Rs 5,000 a month driving tourist cars," one villager says. "But we don't like the Kolkata culture," he adds. "The tourists smoke, drink and cavort around here, it teaches our children bad things." A senior state forest official says the government is trying to raise awareness among local residents about the longterm impact on their livelihoods if the forest area dwindles. "But there should be more coordination between the PCB, the forest department and district officials to find a way to stop the unregulated growth of commercial structures," the official says, adding, "Of course, political will is required, too." The solution could come in the form of a national eco-tourism policy, the draft guidelines of which have been prepared by the MoEF. The carrying capacity of a forest is central to these guidelines. Gorumara, where tourists far outweigh the carrying capacity, can hope for a breather once the policy is notified. The state, too, has formed an eco-tourism development committee comprising experts and government officials to address these concerns. "The committee has been recently formed. A comprehensive policy is being formulated ," says forest secretary Das. Sumita Ghatak, DFO wildlife II, Jalpaiguri, adds, "We are trying to declare the area an eco-sensitive zone. The proposal is being readied and will be submitted soon." But proposals, guidelines and policies , however well-intentioned , must survive the scrutiny of committees, negotiate the hurdles of bureaucracy and finally pass the political acid test. Gorumara, with the noose of realty tightening around it, can't afford the long wait. Save the forest, it's the call of the wild.

Officials, civil society join hands to restore wildlife corridor

Subhash Chandra N S Bangalore: Govt declares Kaniyanapura and nearby villages as reserve forest This is one classic example of how concerted efforts by government officials and civil society can make a difference to conservation. Sustained pursuance of the case by a few bureaucrats and wildlife activists has ensured that revenue land, over 5,000 acres, falling in a critical wildlife corridor at Kaniyanapura is declared a reserve forest. The efforts bring to an end the two-decade old issue of protecting the Kaniyanapura elephant corridor - which links Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. Kaushik Mukherjee, former additional chief secretary, B J Hosmath, field director, Project Tiger, Sanjay Gubbi, member, State Board for Wildlife, Basavaraju, assistant commissioner, Kollegal and Manjunath, tahsildar, Gundlupet have together got thousands of acres of revenue land, which had features of forest, declared reserve forest. “A notification under Section 4 of Karnataka Forest Act has been issued with an intention to provide legal status to this forest patch,” Kumar Pushkar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Bandipur Tiger Reserve, told Deccan Herald. The notification - dated February 2, 2012 - grants reserve forest status to more than 5,000 acres of revenue land to ensure their protection. Pushkar said the corridor was very important as far as wildlife protection is concerned as almost all animals, including tiger and elephant, use this stretch for their movement. He said declaring such a huge stretch of land as reserve forest was not an easy task. Not doing so would have been a great loss to wildlife as the notified area binds north and south ears of the corridor, he said. “This area had become a hub of numerous activities. We would have lost the habitat. By declaring it reserve forest, we have secured it for wildlife,” he said. “This is the patch which connects Biligirirangana Hills Tiger Reserve and Satyamangala forest with Nagarhole and Bandipur,” he added. The revenue land falling in the limits of Chikyelchetti, Bachalli, Kebbepura, Kaniyanpura, Mangala, Yeriyur, Heggavadi and Kundukere villages have forests that connected the two important protected areas within the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. “Despite a Supreme Court order that land with characteristics of forests should not be diverted for non-forestry activities without proper permissions, several resorts and private farms had come up here. Many of them were illegal and had reduced the corridor to a chicken neck in some locations,” explained a wildlife expert who has conducted a study of this corridor. Sanjay Gubbi conducted a quick survey of the area with the help of volunteers from Vanya and Aranya wildlife groups in 2011. An area of 9,662.3 acres was found to have forest cover and a report was submitted to the government recommending that these areas be declared reserved forest. Finding that an area of 5,599.05 acres was not diverted to private use, the department officials made a proposal to the government to declare it reserved forest under the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963. This finally led to the notification declaring the area as reserve forest.

Warning roar for shabby tiger turf

A.S.R.P. MUKESH Ranchi, June 17: A three-member team of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is expected to arrive in Jharkhand in July second week to take stock of Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR) with the threat to stop central funds if the state did not get its act together to save the big cats. State forest department sources said that the NTCA was “very upset” over the dismal state of tiger conservation in Jharkhand (see chart). It might plug central funds — Rs 1 crore was earmarked in the last fiscal year — to punish the state’s poor performance. The PTR is one of India’s original nine tiger reserves. It has a core area of 414sqkm and a buffer zone of 600sqkm. Villages on the buffer and periphery exceed 100. Over the years, the number of tigers has dwindled to between six and 10, though “sightings” make occasional headlines. Worryingly, the presence of Naxalites and poachers makes more credible news. A senior forest official, who visited New Delhi earlier this month along with couple of other officials from the state wildlife division for nationwide meeting on tiger conservation measures, said Jharkhand had become “a joke” among other states. “Every state barring Jharkhand has more or less formulated a Tiger Conservation Plan in the past two-three years, details of which were discussed during the Delhi meeting. Representatives from Jharkhand had nothing to share, which irked NTCA officials,” he said. A high-level committee is expected to meet chief minister Arjun Munda and forest minister Sudesh Mahto to find out why not much headway was made in PTR for years. Though chief wildlife warden A.K. Malhotra and chief conservator of forests A.K. Gupta couldn’t be reached for comments, senior member of state steering committee (tiger conservation) D.S. Srivastava confirmed the upcoming visit and dwelt on its implications. “The exact date is not yet known. But during my meeting with NTCA member secretary Rajesh Gopal, I was told the visit would be around the second week of July. They also dropped hints about stopping funds this time.” Srivastava is also involved in tiger conservation plans for Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and so is in a position to compare. “These three states have almost prepared holistic plans. They are again holding a meeting with NTCA on June 22 to discuss the course of action. People make fun of Jharkhand, saying the state has not chalked any plan despite so much time,” said Srivastava. According to him, NTCA has two major gripes where the PTR is concerned. First, despite repeated directives Jharkhand has not formed a tiger conservation foundation. Second, its core and buffer areas are not declared under Section 23 of NTCA’s tiger reserve guidelines, which makes it mandatory to relocate human population from core areas. “Till these are done, conservation plans can’t start. Plus, no one in the department is serious,” he claimed. Premjit Anand, divisional forest official of PTR (core), said they had not received official intimation on the visit. “I know that the NTCA has written to headquarters about the foundation and other pending activities of the PTR,” he said.

Sigur corridor caught in crossfire

MONDAY, 18 JUNE 2012 00:09 MOUSHUMI BASU | NEW DELHI The notifying of an elephant corridor connecting the Bandipur-Mudumalai landscape with rich bio-diverse Sigur plateau in Tamil Nadu has brought Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) face to face with National Board For Wildlife (NBWL). The issue that has figured in the last two standing committee meetings of the Board, is pending in the Supreme Court. Based on an expert committee report on the importance of Sigur, the Madras High Court had earlier upheld the issue of notifying of the elephant corridor. But the High Court order was challenged by a local group of high-end resort owners in the Supreme Court, which also includes a prominent Bollywood star. While ordering a stay on dispossession and demolition of the buildings of the petitioners till further orders, the SC stated “it is open to the NBWL to offer their comments on the report submitted by the committee set up by the High Court” and directed the MoEF to submit its report within a given timeframe. As per the directives of the court, NBWL members expressed their opinion on December 13 meeting and wrote a letter to the Environment Minister endorsing the HC panel report. But for reasons not known and much to the surprise of the members, the Ministry tried to set up a new committee to study the ground realities all over again. The High Court had, however, turned down the Ministry’s proposal to form a new panel. A further shock was in store for NBWL members, when the MoEF submitted its affidavit to the SC without including their opinion on the issue as directed by the apex court. Further, in the last meeting of the standing committee of NBWL, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan pointed to the need for implementation of Forest Rights Act in the area, adding that she would submit any supplementary affidavit with views of members of the board. The affidavit, according to Praveen Bhargav, wildlife expert from Karnataka, raises doubts on the intentions of the MoEF. “Why was the written opinion of the non-official experts on the Standing Committee concurs with the recommendations of the High Court Expert Committee not filed before the Supreme Court,” he said. He further questioned on the necessity of constituting another committee ignoring the clear opinion of the non-official members of the Standing Committee when the Supreme Court had only sought the comments of the NBWL. Bhargav also asked when the land in the identified corridor belonged to the State, which is willing and fully competent to notify the protected areas, why were the Ministry officials raising extraneous issues like Forest Rights Act which will only benefit powerful tourist resorts in this area. As per the report of the expert committee, the importance of the Sigur plateau lies in the fact that it connects the contiguous ranges of Nagarhole, Bandipur, Wayanad and Mudumalai national parks, besides the Satyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries in the Eastern Ghats. These national parks and contiguous reserve forests in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, have the richest habitat and support nearly 8,000 Asiatic elephants besides tigers and other endangered species. Despite being the vital link to so many protected areas, Sigur corridor is largely unprotected. It is being regularly crossed by the elephants, tiger and other wildlife. The report notes that during the last two decades elephant habitats have been fragmented because of increased human activities including presence of 44 resorts within the proposed corridor. A number of them have solar electric fences obstructing the animal movement, it says. This has largely escalated the man-elephant conflict in the region, resulting in human deaths. Former NBWL member and wildlife filmmaker Shekhar Dattatri pointed out that “consolidation of the Sigur corridor is an extremely important conservation priority since it will ensure connectivity between some of the best habitats for the Asiatic elephant and the tiger. “Any attempt to derail the implementation of the landmark judgement of the Madras High Court will greatly benefit the many commercial resorts that have choked this extremely important elephant corridor,” he said. Sources in the MoEF, however, said that the local villagers are angry with the proposed corridor. It will affect five hamlets of Bokkapuram and parts of Masinagudi, Kadanadu and Hullathi panchayats. The conflict had originated with the order of the State Government in August 2010 to acquire 2,822 hectares (ha) for the proposed corridor. Of this, 1,710 ha is private land. However, the wildlife conservationists argue that the areas fall under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forest Act. This prohibits sale, purchase, lease and mortgage of land including change in land use without the permission of the State Government.

Friday, June 15, 2012

3 nabbed with tiger cub pelt

TNN | Jun 15, 2012, 11.57AM IST MYSORE: A six-month-old tiger cub has fallen prey to poachers, and is suspected to have been killed at BRT Wildlife Sanctuary, a tiger reserve in Chamarajnagar, bordering Tamil Nadu. The poaching came to light following the arrest of three persons who were netted by a forest department vigilance squad posing as prospective buyers. They were arrested at Siddiahapura near Chamarajnagar and the tiger pelt and bones recovered from them. The officials are trying to locate where the cub was killed. Sources told TOI that the cub may have been killed three days ago, given the freshness of the pelt. "How it died is yet to be ascertained as there are no bullet marks on the pelt. It could have been poisoned too," the sources stated. The officials are sending the pelt and bones to the Bangalore-based National Centre for Biological Studies for further examination. The gender of the cub could not be ascertained from the pelt but said it could be a female. The three arrested are Mahadev from Boodipadaga, Mahesh from Kullur and Narayan from Coimbatore, while two others escaped. This is second case of poaching reported from tiger reserves in the Mysore-Kodagu-Chamarajnagar region. A tiger was killed in mid-February near Kushalnagar in the buffer zone of Nagarahole National Park, which came to light on April 7, after forest officials arrested one person at Naviluru in Periyapatna taluk in Mysore district. He later told police that they killed the tiger when they went hunting for deer and came across the big cat, and shot it. Attn: Mysore Desk/Political Desk This is story related to seizure of tiger pelt outside BR Hills tiger reserve in Chamarajnagar. This is second incident in recent times when the tiger pelt is seized in the area.

Cops trap man trying to sell tiger skin at Porvorim

TNN | Jun 15, 2012, 11.18AM IST Mapusa: In a well-planned operation Porvorim police arrested one Sanjay Pawar for carrying a tiger skin on Thursday afternoon. Police suspect the skin to be that of a full-grown tiger. The skin will be sent for analysis to wildlife institute of India (WII), Dehradun. "This is done for legal purposes," a forest officer said. Police were tipped off around noon that a person would arrive in Porvorim in a blue car with a tiger skin to be sold. Accordingly Porvorim DySP Bossuet Silva and PI CL Patil formed two teams, including a decoy, to trap the seller. Police said that at about 12.30pm Pawar, holding a white polythene bag arrived at Porvorim and was waiting for the prospective customer. He was immediately surrounded by police and searched. "The skin of a full grown tiger was found in the polythene bag which has been seized. The car has also been attached," Silva said. He added that it was not a fresh skin, but an old and cured skin. Analysis by WII will help ascertain its age. From P 1 Pawar, presently residing at Pilerne, is originally from Sawantwadi, Maharashtra. He was arrested under Section 51 of Wildlife Protection Act and handed over to range forest officer at Campal for further action. Police said Sawantwadi police have been informed and Pawar's house was searched but no other skins found. PSI Vikram Naik, constables Shyam Mahale, Satish Sawant and Melvyn Cardozo were part of the operation. Mapusa based NGO Pratistha aided police in the operation. NGO president Deepak Gadekar said he provided information to police in the operation. The skin, sealed in the presence of witnesses, will be analyzed for various aspects. Investigations are in progress.

Corbett reserve faces a host of intractable problems

June 15, 2012 By Rashme Sehgal Correspondent Corbett National Park (uttarakhand) Corbett Tiger Reserve may boast of the world’s highest density of tigers but it is beset by a host of problems that may soon see it lose its premier status. CTR’s director Rajan Mishra admits that CTR has witnessed an intensification of man-animal conflict with as many as eight humans being killed by a man-eater in 2010. One of the main reasons for this conflict is the massive construction of hotels and luxury villas blocking of the entire eastern boundary with only two passages available for wildlife to approach the Kosi river. Joseph Vattakaven, tiger coordinator for WWF-India pointed out that tigers are constantly spilling over outside tiger reserves and presently 13 tigers are using the Kosi river corridor to cross over to the Ramnagar forests. The WWF has employed 86 traps on either side of this corridor which show the corridor is being used by several animals, including elephants. CTR’s other problems relate to the removal of the villages of Chukam and Sunderbhal which are cutting off the animals access to the Ramnagar forests. The problem is that although these villages are not located in core tiger habitat, the National Tiger Conservation Authority realises only too well that the buffer area is also rich in wildlife. “The entire Sunderkhal area, comprising a 10-km stretch, has been encroached upon and presently has 144 families living there. Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh had made an exception and agreed to grant compensation of `10 lakh per family even though they were not in the core area,” said Mr Mishra. “Removing the villages of Chukam is an easier task since they are inside a territorial division of a tiger reserve area,” Mr Mishra explained. But though villagers from both these villages are clamouring to be relocated, the NTCA has yet to act on the ground. Another major problem facing CTR is that stone and sand quarry is no longer restricted to the Kosi river but is being done in stretches of the Ramganga river as well.

Maharashtra denotifies 1/4th of Koyna sanctuary land

TNN | Jun 15, 2012, 04.55AM IST MUMBAI: The National Wildlife Board has approved the denotification of nearly 100 sq km of the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary. Residents of 14 villages will now be able to cultivate their fields without any fear of action from the forest department. The sanctuary created in the 1970s is spread over 423 sq km. The area that has been denotified is private forest land and has always been cultivated. Pravin Pardesi, principal secretary, revenue and forests, said the land, which is a part of the Deccan plateau, is on one side of the Koyna lake while the larger and actual forest is on the opposite side along the Sahyadri range. The forest is in layers and is a rain forest. It is home to a large number of birds that are endemic to this forest. There are tigers, barking deer, bison, wild dogs and other animals as well. Union minister of environment and forests Jayanti Natarajan, while allowing the denotification, said it was being done on the condition that the state would develop new forest areas. The state government pointed out that recently, it had declared five new protected areas in Vidarbha. "Also, eight villages in the core forest area are being shifted out. The 100 sq km of land thus freed will be used for forest development,'' said Pardesi. Sanctuaries to have successfully done this before are Kanha in Madhya Pradesh and Ranthambore in Rajasthan. Maharashtra has been witnessing a spurt in poaching and man-animal conflict as its tiger population has soared in comparison to the protected areas, which has halved ever since the government denotified 7,000 sq km of he Nanaj Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary last year.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tiger poached in BRT wildlife sanctuary

HM Aravind, TNN | Jun 13, 2012, 10.49PM IST MYSORE: A six months old tiger cub has fallen prey to poachers. The cub is suspected to have been killed at BRT wildlife sanctuary, a tiger reserve in Chamarajnagar bordering Tamil Nadu. The poaching came to light following arrest of three who were netted by the forest department staff vigilance squad which posed as prospective buyers to lure them out. They were arrested at Siddiahnapura near Chamarajnagar and tiger pelt and bones recovered from them. The officials are trying to locate as to where the cub was killed. Sources told The Times of India that the cub is felled three days back given the freshness of the pelt. "How the big cat is felled is yet to be ascertained as there are no bullet marks on the pelt. It could be poisoned too," the sources stated. The officials are sending the pelt and bones to the Bangalore-based National Centre for Biological Studies for further examination. The sources stated that the gender of the cub could not be ascertained from the pelt but said it could be a female. Three arrested are Mahadev from Boodipadaga, Mahesh from Kullur and Narayan from Coimbatore. Two others escaped, the officials stated. This is second case of poaching reported from tiger reserves in Mysore-Kodagu-Chamarajnagar region. A tiger was killed in mid-February near Kushalnagar in the buffer zone of Nagarahole national park, which came to light on April 7 when the forest officials arrested one person at Naviluru in Periyapatna taluk in Mysore district. The arrested had later told the police that they killed the tiger when they went hunting for deer and came across the big cat. It was shot at and killed. eom

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lion Lights Invention by 13-Year-Old Kenyan to Save Big Cats? - Can India follow this for Tigers!

13-year-old Kenyan innovator Richard Turere saves endangered lions with his lion lights invention. Video by Paula Kahumbu In this video report, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee Paula Kahumbu reports on a bright idea by 13-year-old Kenyan innovator Richard Turere to save endangered lions with his “lion lights” invention. Big Cats Initiative and its grantees have a near-uniform shared theme of conservation via deep engagement with local communities and stakeholders. The connection between Paula Kahumbu, a BCI grantee and recipient of the National Geographic -Howard G. Buffett Award for African Conservation, and young Richard Turere is a shining of example of how the BCI’s grassroots-based conservation actions collaboratively find and implement the most imaginative, yet simple and effective conservation techniques. related article 13 year old Kenyan innovator saves cattle from lions with lights

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Almost 50 tigers dead in six months in India

CNN-IBN New Delhi: Close to 50 tigers have died in the past six months in India, 19 of which were killed in poaching incidents. It's a shocking figure, specially when compared to the 56 tiger deaths reported in all in 2011. The National Tiger Conservation Authority has sounded an alert in all tiger reserves with an order that all the big cat deaths must be treated as poaching cases unless proven otherwise. It has identified Corbett in Uttarakhand and Tadoba in Maharashtra as poaching hot spots. Efforts are on to step up monitoring and foot patrolling in the monsoon season when the parks are shut down, making them more vulnerable to poachers. Tiger conservation activist Rajesh Gopal said, "There have been several tiger deaths. We are considering all deaths as cases of poaching unless proven otherwise." Tiger conservation activist Sunita Narain said, "The government must focus on rehabilitating poachers in order to save the tigers."

Night vision cameras to keep track of tigress, cubs

TNN | Jun 12, 2012, 01.20AM IST BHOPAL: Rattled by the poaching of a tiger last week in state capital forest circle, the hard-pressed authorities have some six night vision cameras installed around water bodies to protect a tigress and its two cubs. "We have placed around six cameras around the water bodies in the forest region of Sehore, Raisen and Bhopal divisions, where the tigress along with two cubs has formed its territory," a top forest department official said. The forest authorities decided to keep a watch on the water bodies given that the wild animals go to such places to quench thirst. It was near a well where the tiger was electrocuted by poachers recently in neighbouring Sehore district, some 40 km from here. Besides, the forest department's ground duty staffers were keeping a watch on the overhead electric wires to ensure that poachers don't make use of it especially near the water bodies, officials said. "We are checking a water body thrice daily in the forested areas. Furthermore we have put up camps at different places and using four-wheelers to keep a watch on the big cat and two cubs," he added. The tiger, now dead, and tigress had entered into forested areas of the state capital forest circle from Ratapani wildlife sanctuary in Raisen.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stray tiger relocated into Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

PTI Jun 10, 2012, 11.54AM IST LAKHIMPUR KHERI: The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) is witnessing the successful relocation of a stray tiger into the wilds again. Forest authorities had tranquilised and captured a stray tiger on April 26 last after it became a threat to human lives on the outskirts of the state capital Lucknow. Named as 'Baadshah', the stray tiger had ventured into human populated areas and created panic in a number of villages. After catching the tiger, the authorities were in a fix about the future of the stray tiger and after weighing all pros and cons, they decided to try to re-introduce it into the wilds of Dudhwa again. The authorities were wary of the tiger's behaviour in the wild as it had been exposed to human activities. Due to this, they decided to put a radio-collar round the its neck so as to maintain a close watch on its movements after its relocation. However, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) environment appealed to the stray tiger so much that it lost all the abnormal behaviour it had shown in Rahmankhera (Lucknow), Field director, DTR Shailesh Prasad told PTI. "The stray tiger has been sighted happily settled in Sathiana range of the reserve with no abnormality in its behaviour at all," Prasad said. Ganesh Bhat, deputy director, told PTI that "Close monitoring on the movements of the stray is being kept through satellite". "The tiger seems to have fully adapted itself to the natural wild environment of Dudhwa," he said. "The successful relocation of this stray tiger would pave a new path of reintroducing the stray animals into the wild," he hoped.

Karnataka green activists save tiger corridor

TAGS: Karnataka green activists | Western Ghats | Tiger corridor | Moorkangudda Reserved Forests | Sakleshpur Taluk | Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary | Kudremukh National Park It required the intervention of a court and conservationists for Karnataka's forest department to stop the destruction of a critical tiger corridor. A private firm had been permitted to set up windmills at the spot in the Western Ghats, in violation of rules. Recently, the government withdrew the permission given to a Bangalore-based hydropower firm to install windmills to generate 25 MW power in the Moorkangudda Reserved Forests in Sakleshpur Taluk of Hassan district. Moorkangudda acts as a critical link between Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park and is home to endangered wildlife, including tiger, leopard, wild dog, gaur, sambar and several other species protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The area has grassland, shola forests and matches Bababudangiri area in its natural beauty. Despite concerns raised by Karnataka's energy department in its order that "the area falls within forest area and that it was unlikely to get forest clearance", the forest department had permitted to start testing work for the power firm. However, in response to a public interest litigation filed by Prashant Yavagal and Western Ghats Environment Forum, the forest department withdrew the permission for extension of the testing period. "This is a positive step by the forest department to save this excellent tiger habitat. Though this area could have low densities of large carnivores, it acts as a critical corridor between southern and northern Western Ghats" wildlife biologist Sanjay Gubbi said. Last year, the forest department had proposed the inclusion of a few reserved forests in this area to the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, including Moorkangudda because of its high ecological value. "In the interest of long-term tiger conservation efforts in the state it is critically important to connect all protected areas through existing corridors or else once these corridors are lost the concept of source-sink model for tiger conservation will be obsolete," Gubbi added. Read more at:

Efforts on to retrieve stolen trapping camera at Palamu Tiger Reserve

TNN | Jun 11, 2012, 10.09AM IST DALTONGANJ: The state forest department has begun efforts to retrieve the stolen trapping camera of the Palamu Tiger Reserve. Villagers have been asked to return the cemara without any fear of legal action. An appeal has also been made to those in jungles armed with weapons (read extremists) to return the stolen camera to forest officials without any problem. A trapping camera was stolen from the Barwahee dam in Betla Range of Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) a couple of days back. PTR DFO Core Premjit Anan, while confirming the theft of the trapping camera from Barwahee dam a couple of days back, said efforts were on to get it back. Anand reiterated that appeals have been made to all sections of people to return it without fearing any legal/punitive action in this regard. He said PTR was more interested in its trapping camera than initiating any legal action. The official said it is believed the trapping camera was stolen more in misunderstanding and confusion as the camera is used solely for trapping carnivores and not for any other activity in the jungle at all. He said the PTR was not being soft with those who stole the trapping camera. Instead, it is to spread a message among the populace living in the vicinity of the reserve the trapping camera will do them no harm, he added. A total of 122 trapping cameras is to be installed in the PTR's core and buffer zones for the 4th phase monitoring of tigers which is to start on Monday. As per an earlier announcement, the 4{+t}{+h} phase of tiger monitoring would state on June 10. However, it had to be delayed by a day because of the positioning of trapping cameras and trackers for the job, Anand said.