Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tiger census put off due to elections

TNN | Feb 1, 2012, 01.37AM IST NAGPUR: Owing to multiple reasons, the annual tiger estimation exercise to be taken up in four tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries has been rescheduled. The eight-day exercise, which was to be held from February 2 to 7, will now be held from February 10 to 17. A fresh schedule was issued by the PCCF (wildlife) office on Tuesday. "Officials concerned sought some time to procure essential material like cameras and rangefinders needed to conduct the census exercise. Hence, the date has been rescheduled," said SK Khetarpal, the principal chief conservator of forests for wildlife. Khetarpal added that another problem was about the zilla parishad elections on February 7. Absence of forest staff on poll duty might affect census work. "By postponing the exercise, we might be able to do it in a better way," he added. The NTCA is yet to release funds for the census exercise. "We expect it in a day or two. We also want to sign an MOU with the NTCA. All this will be completed before February 10," said Khetarpal. The PCCF said the fourth phase will help know tiger numbers in each reserve with the help of mark recapture based camera traps. The cameras will be two-sided and placed at 4 sq km each for 45-60 days i.e. 1,000 nights. After the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) adopted the new tiger census methodology in 2006, figures of individual tiger reserves have not been declared. The numbers included estimation of a protected area (PA) and its entire landscape.

Tiger traps in G'chiroli trigger alarm bells

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Jan 31, 2012, 01.17AM IST NAGPUR: The two steel traps found in Venkatapetha in Pranhita forest range in Gadchiroli district a few days ago are a wake up call for the state forest department. They are also a refutation of forest officials' claim that there were no tigers in the tribal district. The steel traps were detected by the forest staff on Wednesday in Venkatapetha-Muyaboynapetha forests but the information was kept under wraps. Sources said the matter came to light when field staff found a steel trap in a bag hanging on a tree. Further search of the area led to another trap. Besides, three holes to lay traps were also found. Sources said the traps were similar to the ones made by Baheliyas of Katni in Madhya Pradesh. These traps are laid to poach tiger, leopard and sloth bears. Baheliyas were notorious for poaching and have entered Vidarbha forests in a big way. On December 23, a jackal died after it was caught in a similar trap near Loni village on Amravati-Akola highway near Karanja-Sohol sanctuary. "Baheliyas operate at multiple locations. They carry tools to slaughter an animal and extract useful parts on the spot," an expert said. TSK Reddy, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Gadchiroli, did not respond to calls or SMS. This is not the first instance of poachers targeting Gadchiroli. Honorary wildlife warden of Gadchiroli MS Chouhan said forest officials always try to get away by claiming there are no tigers in Gadchiroli but the traps show poachers know of their presence. Nitin Desai, Central India director of WPSI, says, "This is the hardest evidence of tiger presence in Gadchiroli. The suspected Baheliya gangs have a history of going to this area. Earlier also, there have been cases up to Eturunagram wildlife sanctuary in Warangal."

Tiger reserve to get monitoring system

January 31, 2012 By B. Ravichandran DC Ooty The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) will soon have a tiger monitoring system that will include camera traps in and around its area, throughout the year, for regular updates on the health and population of tigers. The move is in line with the guidelines of the Wildlife Institute of India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the deputy director of MTR, A. Ameer Haja, told DC. “Preliminary training for staff in the MTR has been held recently in this regard and a field study was conducted during which 110 sites were selected for fixing double-sided cameras that would automatically photograph the big cats crossing the zone. The process of procuring cameras for the purpose is underway,” Haja said. This scheme paves the way for the intensive and annual monitoring of tigers at the MTR, he said. This is part of the comprehensive tiger conservation strategy designed by the Centre and this type of activity will allow the MTR administration to regularly get the latest updates regarding the population and health of the tigers, Haja said. The field forest staff in the jungles will regularly monitor the camera traps to ascertain whether the big cats visited that area and to get further details about the tigers, cubs, sex ratio and prey base in the zone and the health of the tigers, he said. This will help in getting data about the potential tiger spots inside the jungles, strengthen anti-poaching activities, strengthen the conservation efforts, he said.

'Insulation, underground cabling to curb wildlife electrocution'

TNN | Jan 31, 2012, 01.47AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) SK Khetrapal on Monday directed forest officials in Chandrapur to take up stringent measures to curb poaching through electrocution. He admitted that staff crunch in FDCM and lack of adequate attention towards wildlife led to the poaching of a tiger in FDCM Jharan range recently. Khetrapal was here to review preventive measures taken up following the tiger poaching incident. "I directed the officials to stress on foot patrolling in the jungle. We are also considering urging the state power company to ensure that no electrocution takes place, before allowing erection of any new transmission line through forests in Chandrapur. Other counter measures such as insulation of electric cables, bunching and underground cabling to prevent electrocution were discussed in the meeting," he said. Khetrapal, however, maintained that underground cabling is a costly affair and costs around Rs25 lakh per km, while overhead transmission line costs around Rs4 lakh per km. "I have also directed officials to keep close watch on unauthorized electric lines in private areas. There are chances of poachers laying electrocution trap on such unauthorized lines for wildlife," he told. Talking about the tiger poaching incident in Jharan range, he agreed that forest staffers of FDCM failed to take up adequate protection measures. "They are running short of almost 50% of the total staff. The beat guard of the particular forest beat where poaching took place holds charge of two beats and additional charge of round officer. I have talked with the managing director of FDCM and asked him to recruit daily wage fire watchers and intensify patrolling in their areas," he said. He claimed that induction of fire watchers starts from February 15 and they will continue their services until the onset of monsoon. Khetrapal also stressed on keeping a close tab on the trip record of electricity supply lines. He said, "We have asked MSEDCL to send an SMS immediately to concerned officers, whenever any incident of supply line tripping takes place." He added that it would help the foresters to check for electrocution if any in the concerned area. I have also directed the officers to intensify the patrolling in the forests, 2-3 days prior to the weekly market villages around. Even sniffer dog would be patrolled around in the weekly markets to detect if any wildlife meat is kept for sale." Officers also discussed the condition of water holes and availability of water in them, monitoring of tiger population and rehabilitation of village Kolsa, Ramdegi and Jamni out of TATR. Officers from Chandrapur circle, FDCM North Chandrapur and TATR were present in the meeting.

Free run for choppers in Satkosia tiger reserve?

TUESDAY, 31 JANUARY 2012 00:00 MOUSHUMI BASU | NEW DELHI HITS: 229 Despite the twin instances of a low-flying chopper carrying a ruling BJD MP in Satkosia Tiger Reserve in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act having triggered a major controversy, the Odisha Government is yet to register a case against either the pilot or the owner of the helicopter. The violations took place in 2009 and 2010 and even forced the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to intervene. However, with no action being taken so far, the Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO), member organiation of National Board for Wildlife, has recently written to the Director General Civil Aviation and PCCF Wildlife Odisha, for re-investigating the matter. WSO secretary, Biswajit Mohanty, has threatened to take the issue to the court, alleging that a deliberate attempt is being made to shield the sitting Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda, who was flying in the helicopter. However, the State Government despite intervention by the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for a proper investigation into the matter has not taken any cognizance in this regard. In fact, in his letter written to the Principal Secretary, the PCCF Wildlife Odisha has observed, “Since the helicopter has not injured/killed any wild animal nor destroyed/damaged the wildlife habitat hence no offence case has been booked as no violation of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 has occurred.” Mohanty in his letter countered saying that the role of the MP needs to be investigated specifically. “The entire enquiry process was vitiated, partial and without application of mind. As a result, a serious wildlife crime committed inside a Tiger Reserve was not investigated properly and no culpability was fixed as no case was filed under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972”, The State Government found no violation of Wildlife Protection Act, but ironically, the DFO Satkosia Wildlife Division, Angul in his earlier letter to RCCF had expressed concern over the two incidents of the low-flying helicopter with a call sign ET1MF on November 2009 and September 2010. He had stated that such “low flying aircrafts could cause disturbance to the ecosystem and wild animals of the tiger reserves.” Ramesh had called for immediate intervention of the Minister of Civil Aviation stating that “such low flights over wildlife habitats amount to hunting under Wildlife Protection Act as it causes disturbance to wild animals”. Pointing to the lapses in the investigation, Mohanty noted that though the identity of the pilot and the aircraft was known, no attempt was made by the enquiring officers to question the owner of the helicopter No action has been taken by your office against the Park management for failing to notice the illegal entry and file a report in this regard. The Park management only acted after the complaint was filed by Mohanty to NTCA/Minister for Environment and Forests, which were later forwarded for action. Even the call sign of the helicopter was wrongly entered. Instead of “ETIMF”, it was actually “VTIMF”, pointed out Mohanty. The Mahanadi River has basking crocodiles and turtles-the elephants regularly drink and bathe in the river. The roar of the low flying helicopter over such areas is immensely disturbing to wild life, he added.