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Friday, March 2, 2012

Mudumalai Tiger Reserve may be closed

D. RADHAKRISHNAN A primate and a pachyderm looking for food in a dry part of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. Photo: M. Sathyamoorthy Dry conditions cause concern With dry conditions becoming a source of concern at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) near Udhagamandlam, a proposal has been sent to the government to close it. Deputy Director, MTR, Ameer Haja, told the The Hindu on Wednesday that a detailed report with inputs from Range Officers had been submitted to the Field Director, MTR Raghuram Singh. It had been sent by the Field Director to the Chief Wildlife Warden along with a recommendation to close the reserve. If approved, the MTR would be closed around the first week of March and would remain closed till the situation improved. Tourists would not be allowed and elephant and van safaris would be suspended. During the period of closure, maintenance works would be stepped up. Pointing out that this season had so far seen one major bush fire and a couple of minor fires inside the reserve, he said that lantena, grass etc. had become extremely dry due to the frost and lack of rain. A considerable part of the total area of 321 square kilometres had become highly vulnerable to fire. Precautionary measures were being put in place. Though the flow in the Moyar river was sufficient, other water sources were drying up. Consequently animals, particularly elephants have become a common sight on roads cutting through the reserve. In view of the situation, the Disaster Management Centre in Theppakadu had been placed in a state of alert. Forest officials, particularly fire watchers and anti-poaching staff, would be on their toes round the clock at various points, including Morgan Betta,Upper Kargudi,Chikhallah. Inter-State coordination would be improved and highway patrolling conducted.

Ga-ga over tiger sightings, tourists toss rules into the wild

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Mar 2, 2012, 02.20AM IST NAGPUR: If vandalizing of tourists cars at Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) gate at Navegaon (Ramdegi) on February 25 was a blot on tiger tourism, the visitors gave a bad name to it on Wednesday by going berserk on spotting tigers in Pandharpaoni area of the reserve. More than 100 visitors in 30 vehicles, including those in the Chimur-Tadoba-Rajura state transport bus virtually scrambled and competed to have a glimpse of four tigers that had appeared on the Pandharpaoni-Tadoba road around 9am on Wednesday. According to Project Tiger guidelines, a distance of 30 metres should be maintained between vehicles and the animals but many were barely 10 metres away from the tigers. With Pandharpaoni becoming a hot spot for tiger sightings, the permitted 40 vehicles entering from Moharli, Khutwanda, Kolara and Navegaon gates head for the spot, causing not only congestion but complete chaos. On Wednesday, when the four sub-adult tiger cubs were sighted, vehicles rushed to the spot. Ostensibly scared by the noise, two cubs crossed the road and vanished inside the dense bamboo clusters while two continued to relax on the road for more than an hour. There were more than 30 vehicles at that time on the spot. Those at the back, upset at not getting a clear view, protested boisterously. The ST bus passengers and its drivers stepped out of the bus, which is completely against the rules, and climbed atop for a good view. Six van majoors with their bicycles too were there at the spot. Some who could not sight the tigers jumped off their vehicles and hollered to those in front. With time ticking away to the 10am deadline when the Moharli gate is shut, vehicles began speeding brazenly. Some stopped to click more pictures and one of the vehicles was just 6 feet away from the tiger. One of the tigers preying a nilgai, which had been released in Pandharpaoni after getting close to humans, was also disturbed by the vehicles. Some gypsies even stopped their vehicles on the attacking tiger's path. "A road hit, like what happened in Bandhavgarh recently, is imminent if the park officials don't take action soon," said Sandeep Dahat, a nature lover from Jaripatka and an eyewitness. Chief conservator of forests (CCF) & field director VK Sinha said the bus driver and some vehicle owners have been asked to show cause on why their entry into the park should not be banned. Sinha agreed that there is need to regulate tourism in the park for which additional staff is needed. "We will deploy more staff from Friday and see that vehicles do not stop at one spot for long durations," he said. "Tourism is an important economic activity and can link tigers to wider constituency and build conservation support. But when managed badly, it can lead to stress on tiger habitats," said Haseeb Badar, a wildlife lover and another eyewitness. What Project Tiger Says? * In place of open gypsies and cars, medium-sized buses, with a closed body and sliding windows may be used for park excursions. This will minimize risk of close encounters with animals and reduce number of vehicles * A minimum mandatory distance of 500 metres should be maintained between two vehicles plying on the same road * Tourists vehicles, while spotting a tiger or any other wild animal, should maintain a minimum mandatory distance of 30 metres * The route guides must be professionally trained and penalty should be imposed on visitors in case they violate rules

Reviving Sariska's tiger footprints

Alexina Correya, Hindustan Times New Delhi, March 01, 2012 Tiger revival projects is an initiative taken by forest officials to help preserve the big cat in India. File Photo. HT Photo/Alexina Correya Wild boars, Sambar deer and jackals thrive in Sariska National Park in Alwar and leopards hunt without fear. The tiger is missing -- it is almost gone from the park. All that may change: Baghani, a young tigress from Ranthambhore, has been trans-located into Sariska. She is not alone: Rathore, a male tiger has been separately introduced into the park by the reserve officials in a hope that the two cats will meet and succeed in establishing a family of their own. Cinematographer and wildlife documentary maker Subbiah Nalla Muthu takes us through Baghani's uncertain exploration of her unfamiliar new home, a boost in her confidence, and her evolution into a skillful predator in his documentary Tiger Dynasty. The documentary is part of a five-documentary BBC series on endangered wildlife. Tiger tale Baghani, named after a village inside Sariska National Park, is one of the five big cats relocated into the park by the Rajasthan forest department as part of the tiger revival project. Sariska National Park used to be one of India's top tiger reserves until poachers ensured their local extinction.

Tiger found dead in eastern Maharashtra

PTI | Mar 1, 2012, 10.30PM IST CHANDRAPUR (MAHARASHTRA): A full-grown tiger was today found dead near a village under Moharli forest range here in eastern Maharashtra, officials said. This was the third tiger death reported from the district, which houses Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, this year. The carcass was located by a forest guard near village Kitadi this afternoon during a routine patrolling. The wild cat appeared to be 12-15 years old, said Kalyan Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF). "Circumstances indicate that the tiger died due to old age. Its body parts like claws were intact," he said. Kumar said there is no reason to suspect foul play in the tiger's death though the real cause will be known only after an autopsy scheduled for tomorrow. Earlier, tiger deaths were reported on January 23 and February 19.

Tribals call off hunting spree

TNN | Mar 2, 2012, 06.55AM IST BARIPADA: About 100 tribal poachers, who had planned to enter the Bhanjabasa area in the Upper-Barha-Kamuda (UBK) Range in the core area of Simlipal Tiger Reserve (STR) on Thursday, have finally cancelled their mass hunting excursion. Forest staff, however, allowed them to kill a giant squirrel and a yellow monitor lizard in the adjoining Nato reserved forest so that they could make animal sacrifices before their supreme deity, Marang Buru. The range officers and other forest staff of Baripada and Karanjia territorial divisions have taken adequate measures to prevent the poachers from sneaking into the animal-rich areas of STR. All entry points of the STR have beel sealed, they adeed. The deputy director of Similipal Tiger Reserve, Bikas Ranjan Dash , said the tribals were adamant about going on the mass hunting expedition, but forest staff managed to convince them after much persuation.