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Monday, January 9, 2012

Finally, state clears spl force for Tadoba, Pench

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Jan 9, 2012, 02.42AM IST NAGPUR: Clearing all the hurdles raised by the state finance department, the government has finally cleared setting up of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) for Pench and Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserves. Talking to TOI on Sunday, Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary (forests), said all the hassles in creating STPF have been removed and a formal GR will be issued on Monday. "The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) will provide 100% assistance," Pardeshi added. Considering the endangered status of tiger and the need for urgently stepping up protection in sensitive areas having source population of tigers, with the active involvement of forest dwelling communities, the NTCA in February 2009 had mandated setting up of STPFs in all the tiger reserves. "Each STPF squad will consists of 110 men and will be headed by assistant conservator (ACF) rank officer and include RFOs, foresters and forest guards. The guards will mostly comprise locals. They will be entitled to the same salary and emoluments through the service provider," Pardeshi said. The top official added that it will take over three months to physically post the squads in the reserves. The personnel will have to undergo training from police and para military forces. They will be also trained to detect poaching and wildlife crime, apart from protection work. On the issue of staff, Pardeshi said additional posts have been cleared. Besides, there will no fresh recruitment for guards. "Several candidates have been kept in the waiting list who qualified during the recent recruitment drive. We'll also sign a pact with the Centre soon on the STPF," he added. At present, Karnataka is the only state which has set up STPF for Bandipur. It has now also included Nagarahole and Biligiri Rangana Temple Wildlife Sanctuary. Maharashtra is perhaps the second state to set up STPF. It is in the final stages in Orissa, sources said. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had cleared the STPF at a meeting in Nagpur on December 15, 2010, but finance department put hurdles asking many irrelevant queries. Pardeshi again followed up the matter with chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad and NTCA and finally got it cleared last week. Wildlife conservationists have hailed the decision. They say even as number of tigers in the latest tiger estimation has gone up from 103 in 2006, to 169 in 2011, poaching threat is looming large on the tiger reserves. What the STPF will mean? STPF will exercise policing powers and the state will be required to confer these powers on personnel under subsection (3) of Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974). These are powers to use firearms to combat tiger poaching and related offences in the tiger habitat. Not being an armed force of the Union, STPF will be used only for tiger protection, and under no circumstances would be requisitioned in aid of civil authority for any other work. The STPF will receive special training from state police and paramilitary forces. The assistance will be granted by NTCA. During the financial year, the state will sign a MoU to implement the initiative in conformity. The guidelines for training/syllabus will be communicated shortly.

TATR, Melghat get Rs31 cr for relocation

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Jan 9, 2012, 02.41AM IST NAGPUR: In a big boost for growing number of tigers crying for space, the ministry of environment and forest's 'Project Tiger' division has released over Rs 31 crore for relocating four villages in Tadoba and Melghat. Overall, Rs23.98 crore has been released for Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) to relocate Jamni and Navegaon (Ramdegi) villages in the core area of Tadoba. While Rs2.88 crore were released last month, the balance amount was released a couple of days ago. Relocation of these villages will increase carrying capacity of tigers in Tadoba as more space will be created. Otherwise, space crunch leads the surplus tiger population to move out and involve in conflict with humans. In Jamni and Navegaon, 237 families have accepted option-I and 225 families option-II. In option-I, villagers will be paid Rs10 lakh, while those under option-II will be relocated by the authorities. Navegaon villagers will be resettled near Khadsingi while Jamni villagers in Ambadi near Samudrapur in Wardha district. Earlier, TATR had sent a proposal for Rs45 crore to resettle these two villages. However, an enhancement of over Rs47.66 crore has been done towards relocation of both the villages. The money will be treated as 100% Central assistance. Similarly, Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR), which has maximum number of villages and has taken a lead in relocating them, has been released Rs7.39 crore to resettle Dhargad and Pili villages. All the 313 families - 172 in Pili and 141 in Dhargad - have opted for option I. Last year, over Rs40 crore were released for MTR in which three villages Barukheda, Amona and Nagartas were resettled.

Tiger count goes up in Panna with rise in number of cubs

PTI Jan 6, 2012, 03.48PM IST BHOPAL: The Panna Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, which gained notoriety for mysterious disappearance of its big cats, is flourishing with tiger cubs again, rejoicing the success of its unique translocation experiment to revive their population. "The tiger reserve has seven cubs and five adult tigers in its wild after the launch of an experiment involving breeding of translocated wild cats and rehabilitation of orphaned cubs ," Panna Tiger Reserve Director, R S Murthy told reporters. The reserve has four female and a male tiger in its kitty and all of them have well adjusted to their new environment. The number of tiger cubs in other reserves across the state is also looking up. Kanha Tiger Reserve at present has 21-23 tiger cubs while the Pench Tiger Reserve boasts of having another 21 or more. "At present we have 21-23 tiger cubs in the different age groups wandering with their mothers in the forest," Kanha Tiger Reserve Director, J S Chouhan said. Kanha has at present nearly 70 or more tigers in its wild as per the official figures, he said. Pench Tiger Reserve Director, Alok Kumar said that in the year 2010-11, nearly 21 tiger cubs were sighted by the forest staff in different zones of the reserve. They are in the age group of 5-6 months to over one year old, Kumar said. A tiger is normally considered adult when it attains the age of two-and-a-half year and also when it separates from its mother.

Vigil at tiger reserves in TN keep poachers at bay

January 9, 2012 DC chennai South Indian states are spearheading the effort by the 17 states to save the tiger with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala having recorded fewer cases of tiger poaching when compared to states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, according to a information submitted by minister of state Namo Narayan Meena in the Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had five years ago constituted the National Tiger Task Force and said that stern action would be taken against poachers. Despite this, poaching big cats had gone up from 2008 to 2010 with only 2011 bringing respite as poaching cases dwindled by about 50 per cent. In 2008, nine tigers were poached, while in 2009, the figure shot up to 17, according to data available with this newspaper. The figure shot up to an alarming 25 in 2010, with respite coming in 2011 when 12 cases were recorded. However, K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust, said that there is good vigil in all the three tiger reserves of Tamil Nadu and this has helped the wildlife department reduce the poaching of big cats. However there is a need to enhance the security network as the system is not foolproof and one or two stray poaching cases are reported. The patrolling in Parambikulam tiger reserve in Kerala is excellent and the reserve has witnessed fewer poaching cases compared to other south Indian tiger reserves, he said.

Tiger terror in Guwahati; leopard captured

08 January, 2012AT News Bureau Four persons have been injured when a fully grown leopard attacked them after storming into a residential area in Guwahati on Saturday. The leopard ran into a house on the Nabagraha Road in Silphukhuri area at around 12-30 in the afternoon. Immediately after it the leopard attacked four persons one after another. Many others managed to escape. The injured persons were rushed to GMCH. Later the leopard was taken for observation at the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati.

Foresters fire on illegal fishermen at Totladoh, 16 Hurt

Soumittra S Bose & Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Jan 9, 2012, 03.52AM IST NAGPUR: Some 16 fishermen fishing illegally in Totladoh reservoir inside Pench tiger reserve were injured when forest guards opened fire on them with 12-bore shotguns on Saturday evening. The forest guards, patrolling the dam on Pench river, claimed they opened fire in self-defence after the fishermen surrounded their boat in mid-reservoir and started attacking them after being challenged. A magisterial enquiry was instituted by the district collector into the matter later. The incident is latest in the ongoing tussle between the foresters and local fishermen dating back since the time the forest around reservoir was declared tiger reserve and fishing prohibited in it. "A group of 12 forest staffers were zeroing in on a fishing boat when they were attacked by fishermen in other boats. Within no time, several boats surrounded our men. There were around 50 fishermen and our men were outnumbered. The forest staff retreated as it was growing dark after they managed to stave off attack on themselves," said AK Saxena, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF), wildlife, Nagpur. A group of 20 fishermen, resident of Rayyatwadi in New Deolapar, had sneaked into the prohibited zone for fishing at 5 pm on Saturday and was just preparing to lay their underwater nets when a foresters boat with eight gunmen approached them. According to Feroze Pathan, one of the injured fishermen, the forest guards had continued firing on them for almost an hour. "We somehow managed to crawl back into the forest for cover and stayed there for seven hours writhing in pain. At midnight we started back for our home around 20 kms away. We walked four to five hours in injured condition and reached home," said Pathan.