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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lineman injured in tiger attack

TNN | Apr 3, 2012, 05.48AM IST BAHRAICH: A lineman was injured in tiger attack while clearing the signal line at Murtiha railway station under Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary. He was admitted to railway hospital. Reporteldy Gokul Express down train number 15316 was about to arrive at Murtiha railway station from Mathura. Lineman Rauf Ahmad (56) with his colleague Jagdamba was going to the west end of the railway station to clear the signal. Jagdamba stopped in the midway for some reason while Rauf went ahead meanwhile a tiger came out of the forest and attacked on Rauf. The train also arrived there and the tiger fled to forest after hearing the horn of the train. Assistant station master Noorul Hasan was informed and Rauf was admitted to railway hospital Gonda by Gokul Express. His condition was stated to be serious. Forest ranger of Murtiha range PL Rai said that the attack of tigers was confirmed on the basis of pug marks and the injured Rauf would be provided financial relief by the forest department.

Foresters beaten up by villagers in Sariska

TNN | Apr 3, 2012, 05.44AM IST ALWAR/JAIPUR: The Sariska Tiger Reserve continued to be at the receiving end of villagers agitation for the fifth day on Monday. While the gate to the reserve and resorts near it remained shut for visitors, at least four foresters were beaten by a mob of these villagers near Nangalheri under the Talvriksh range. This despite the fact that a majority of the people, protesting under the banner of the Bharatia Kisan Union, had shifted their focus to the collectorate in Alwar. Nearly 200 persons on Monday gathered near Roopbas, and after a meeting, took out a procession to the collectorate in Alwar. The gathering included a number of villagers from the periphery of the forests. They were demanding rights for registration of villagers' land and a repair of the state highway passing through the reserve. The protestors later met Alwar collector Ashutosh A.T. However, with the collector unable to meet their demands, some of the protestors decided to stay at the collectorate for the night while the remaining ones continued with their protest at the reserve. Their demands are something that has to be addressed by the Centre. The Section 20 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 prevents registration of land within forest areas and there are guidelines set by the Supreme Court that has to be complied with before the road can be repaired," said the collector. As per the orders of the Supreme Court on state highway number 13, between Bhartrahari and Thanagazi, plying of commercial vehicles is to be stopped totally and other vehicles can ply only from sunset to sunrise. Along with this, plying of all vehicles has to be stopped on state highway number 29A between Sariska and Tehla via Kalighati before any repair on the above road sections. However, the forest authorites tried to execute this order for commercial vehicles in 2009 but could not succeed due to opposition by locals. Since then the traffic has been going on unrestricted and the roads have worn out. "None of the issues that the villagers are demanding is in our hands. For registration of land, the law has to be changed. And so it is useless that the villagers protest in this manner and block the gates to the reserve inconveniencing tourists to it. Most unreasonable is the fact that four of my people were beaten up. We are lodging an FIR in this regard," said RS Shekhawat, field director, Sariska. But be that as it may, Bhupat Baliya, who is leading the agitation, warned, "If our demands are not met we will soon bring in supporters of the union from Uttar Pradesh and intensify our stir."

Salinity of river makes Royal Bengal tiger lose its sheen and weight

TAGS: Salinity of river makes Royal Bengal tiger lose sheen | India | Sunderban delta | West Bengal | Kolkata | South 24 Parganas district | Bangladesh A Royal Bengal tiger that had strayed being relocated to the Sunderbans. Excess of salt is bad for your health and for India's national animal as well. The once regal Royal Bengal tiger is losing its sheen - literally. And the salinity of the river water in West Bengal's Sunderban delta, which has been its home for centuries, is to be blamed for this. Recent observations by state wildlife experts have revealed serious physiological changes in this endangered cat, considered Bengal's pride. These include weight loss, shrinking size and fading lustre. Experts believe this is because of climatic change and increased salinity in the water. While the average weight of an adult Royal Bengal tiger in other parts of India is over 180kg, in the Sunderban region it has fallen to around 110kg. And it hasn't just lost weight. The length of a Sunderban tiger has come down from over 9 feet to about 8 feet. "We have noticed a huge difference in the weight of an adult Sunderban tiger as compared to other parts of the country," Pranabesh Sanyal, a retired director of the reserve forest, said. "The lustre of its coat is also fading because of the increased salinity in the river water," Sanyal, who has been working on the tiger habitation in the mangrove forest since the early 1980s, added. In 2010, the state forest department had managed to trap and weigh six tigers after they had sneaked into human habitation. The weight of all six tigers was found to be between 100 and 110kg. The tiger's weight loss is being attributed to its consumption of saline water as the number of fresh water ponds inside the core area of Sunderbans has gone down drastically because of rising salinity. Currently, the average salinity in Sunderbans is more than 21 parts per thousand (ppt), which touches 25 ppt during winter. Experts claim that the salinity level in the mangrove forest has increased 15 per cent in the last two decades. Food shortage is believed to be another reason for this weight loss. "Due to the shortage of natural fodder, a tiger has to spend more time trying to catch its prey. We have noticed a significant migration of tigers from the core area to the buffer zones because of the unavailability of food," Sanyal said. The unique feature of the Sunderban tiger is that it can swim. Located in Kolkata's neighbouring South 24 Parganas district, the Sunderbans is part of the world's largest delta formed at the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It is spread over a vast area of 4,262 sq km with a major portion lying in Bangladesh. The deltaic belt, which houses a vast tract of forest and saltwater swamp, is located in the lower part of the Ganges. It extends 260km along the Bay of Bengal from the Hooghly river estuary in India to the Meghna river in Bangladesh. Shanki Ranjan Banerjee, an honorary director of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), also thinks food shortage to be one of the major reasons that the Royal Bengal tiger is losing its weight. "The tigers in the Sunderban delta are facing a shortage of natural fodder. Over a period of time we have also noticed that it is losing weight. It is also shrinking in size and losing its lustre," Banerjee said. He urged the West Bengal government to address this food shortage. "According to the records available with the World Wildlife Fund, there seemed to be very few tigers left in the Sunderbans. That means there should be enough number of boars and deer for the tigers to feed on," Banerjee added. But the reality seems to be far from truth. "I remember an interesting incident that dates back to 2009, when a Royal Bengal tiger ate a cobra and died in Netidhopani village of the Sunderbans. The post-mortem revealed that the tiger had died of snake venom. It happened only because of food shortage," Banerjee pointed out. Experts urged the West Bengal government to set up fresh water ponds inside the core area of the Sunderbans to stop tigers from drinking saline water. Currently, there is only one fresh water pond in the forest area. They feel the government should also encourage wild boar farming in the mangrove forests so that the tigers can get their food easily and don't have to wander into human habitation. Sources said there was a wild boar farm at Jharkhali village in the late 1980s. But it had to be closed down by the state forest department because of inept handling. With West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee busy making life difficult for the UPA government at the Centre, one wonders whether she would have time for the tigers. Read more at:

Tiger tracking renewed after minister’s nudge

Express news service Posted: Apr 02, 2012 at 0323 hrs IST Lucknow The forest department is renewing its efforts to tranquilise a tiger in the Rehmankheda jungles near Lucknow, following instructions from Minister of State for Zoological Garden Shiv Pratap Yadav. While department officials are arranging for more equipment and help for the operation, experts are worried about the pressure the haste might exert on the beast. The officials are also in a dilemma over the best strategy to capture the big cat, which has been roaming in the forest for the past three months but without hurting humans. Yadav had visited the forest on Thursday and seen the tiger. According to a government press release Yadav had said that the people involved in the operation were not fully trained. He ordered officials to arrange for the required equipment to capture the tiger as soon as possible. The forest department is planning to call two more elephants from Dudhwa National Park to track the tiger. “We have asked for two more elephants so that the three teams, which are taking turns for round-the-clock surveillance in the forest, will have one elephant each,” said J S Asthana, Chief Wildlife Warden, UP. As of now, only one elephant in being used to traverse the forest. “We are also trying to rope in another expert from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, but he is busy with another operation,” he said. Before this, the department had already called Nawab Shafath Ali Khan, the hunter who killed the Faizabad tigress in 2009 when she turned maneater, as well as K L Purohit, Assistant Director of Nandan Kanan Zoological Park, Orissa, for the operation but to no avail. Experts believe that three elephants might create pressure on the tiger, which has been living peacefully in the forest. This may prove detrimental as the tiger may venture out to human habitat. The department is also planning to add two more rope nets to trap the beast. The team has just one rope net, apart from three cages for the beast. “The rope net can cover a larger area, can be easily be shifted,” said a forest official. The caging, otherwise, tends to hurt the animal and makes it impossible for their returned to their original habitat.

Closed for outsiders, but minister latest visitor at tiger territory

TNN Mar 31, 2012, 03.37AM IST LUCKNOW: The tiger-tracking operation in Rahmankhera is at a stage where it has to get more concentrated and intensive. However, the presence of a minister and his entourage can always hamper the already sluggish momentum of the operation. Shiv Pratap Yadav, minister of state for zoological parks, UP, had visited Rahmankhera on Thursday. He was accompanied by his entourage too. The pictures taken at the spot show minister mounted on an elephant, with his men and tracking team, combing the area. A day after, even forest officials sound clueless as to what made the minister visit the spot, which the department has kept closed for 'outsiders'. Besides, nobody in the forest department is sure if he has the charge of wildlife. "He might have been sent by the CM," is only what highly-placed sources in the UP forest department could say about his visit. "He is a minister and can't be questioned," said sources, but at the same time, they do not deny that the spot should have least disturbance. The efforts to tranquilise and trap the tiger have been on in Rahmankhera for the last three months now. From January 9 till now, the tracking team, comprising forest officers and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) personnel, has been missing every opportunity to either tranquilise or trap the tiger. The only good thing about the entire operation is that tiger has become localised around the campus of Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH). However, VIP visits like the one on Thursday could drive the tiger away from the spot, a possibility that forest department officials do not deny. Such visits in the area will hamper the success of the operation. The minister is still an 'outsider' to the operation, and considering that he has no expertise in wildlife, his presence at ground zero can jeopardise the safety of the humans as well as the feline. If sources are to be believed, there were shots fired in the air on Thursday to turn the tiger away from the spot where minister was present. So far, the forest department has not even allowed the staff and scientists of CISH to go close to the area where it conducts the combing operation, despite the fact that it has been hampering the work at the institute. Even the wildlife experts who have been offering help to the department in safely trapping the tiger have been kept away from the spot. But ministerial visits, even the sources in the department agree, are difficult to keep off. "In such a situation like this, if anything goes amiss, it's the tiger which will be shot down," said one of the wildlife experts, wishing not to be quoted.

Glaring shortcomings noticed in tiger sanctuaries

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN Mar 30, 2012, 01.42AM IST NAGPUR: Under criticism for its passive role post-inauguration, regional office of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in Nagpur is now steadily coming up. Initially set up to look after 15 tiger reserves in four states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, the Nagpur office is at present handling more than 50% tiger reserves in the country. "Of the 41 tiger reserves in India, Nagpur is looking after 25 in 10 states," said Ravikiran Govekar, assistant inspector general (AIG). As there is no official posted in Guwahati regional office yet, the 10 tiger reserves in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam are also being looked after by city office. Nagpur NTCA office was opened by then union environment minister Jairam Ramesh and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on April 27, 2011. The regional offices in Guwahati and Bengaluru were also opened during the same time. While opening office at Nagpur, Ramesh had promised that an inspector general (IG) would be in place along with ministerial staff of eight persons in three months but the staff has still not been appointed. "Some applications for IG's post have been received and screening process is on," said Govekar. However, he adds, lack of staff doesn't mean NTCA office here is dormant. Since July 2011, of the 25 reserves, Govekar has visited 17 and submitted evaluation reports to NTCA at Delhi. "It's very hectic and I'm out on official tours for almost 27 days in a month," says Govekar. As per norms, an AIG is required to make at least three supervisory visits in a year to each tiger reserve. The visits are basically to look into protection initiatives, surveillance, rate of wildlife crime, status of prey and predators, implementation of centrally sponsored scheme (CSS), staff position, relocation of villages, and monitor annual plan of operations (APO). Strategically, all problem reserves like Sahyadri in Maharashtra, Udanti and Indravati in Chhattisgarh and Similipal in Odisha were taken up. The visits have led to discovery of an array of good and bad management practices. During a visit to Sahyadri in October-November last, bauxite mining was observed just 800 metres from the reserve's boundary. There were two-wheelers moving inside the reserve. NTCA higher-ups have taken a serious note of these violations. Tiger reserve visits have no more remained joy tours and from the feedback of Nagpur office, NTCA at Delhi has been writing to chief wildlife wardens of the states about shortcomings and need to rectify them.