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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tribals spot danger in tiger reserve plan

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

Little talk, no action at tiger cell meet

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

Kelzar villagers live under fear of tiger

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

Madhya Pradesh government backs tourism in tiger reserves

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

3 cubs spotted in Ranthambore tiger reserve

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

Tiger found dead

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

Hurdles galore for central funds to reach PTR

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

Experiment explains how tiger stripes are formed

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

Tuli's construction work stalled near TATR

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