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Thursday, May 3, 2012

In Mowgli's land…

K. SANJANA One of the wild sights at the Pench Tiger Reserve. Photo: Special Arrangement National Tiger Ambassador K. Sanjana recounts her wild experience at the Pench Tiger Reserve. Our bags were packed and we were ready to go to Pench Tiger Reserve. After the train journey to Nagpur, my coordinator Arivazhagan Chelliah, teacher Annapoorni and I — the National Ambassador from Chennai — met with the other National Tiger Ambassadors from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ramnagar and Kolkata and their respective teachers and coordinators. The first thing we noticed when we reached the forest was that our cell phone had lost signal. This made it all the more exciting as we lost contact with the outside world. Pench Tiger Reserve is the place where Rudyard Kipling based his famous Jungle Book. So, we were very thrilled to be in the land of Mowgli. That night we armed ourselves with our binoculars, cameras and notepads and hopped into the open jeep. In the forest The first thing that caught our eye as we entered the forest was a group of spotted deer. We observed that they lifted their tails while running; this, we were told, was to warn the others about lurking danger. Then we were startled by a sound which we assumed to be an alarm call and we were expecting to see a tiger. Later, we came to know that it was a rutting call. Rutting calls are made by male deer to attract the female deer. As we moved on, we caught a glimpse of two jackals. It was interesting to learn that jackals don't hunt in packs and they mate for life. We also saw a variety of birds like the Jungle Babbler, Treepie, Roller Bird, Parakeet and lots more. Among the flora, the tree that fascinated me was the ghost tree. Its bark is white in colour and is devoid of any leaves in this season. So, at night it appears ghostly with fluttering arms. On many trees we saw rake marks (the marks of a tiger's claw). Along the way we saw many trees with their barks chipped off; the result of the deer rubbing their antlers on the trunks and the porcupines that would chew on them. While inside some water droplets fell on our face. Assuming it was the early morning dewdrops we eagerly lifted our faces to catch a few more. But, to our utter disgust, we were told that it was the defecation of the cicadas! But what really made our day was the sight of two tigers: Badi Matha and her grandchild. The experience of seeing a tiger face-to-face in the wild was truly unbelievable. The sessions We had lot of interactive sessions with Anish Andheria and Sahrdul Bajikar, which were interesting and informative. We learnt a lot about the estimation of tigers. We were taught about the capture-recapture technique and we also learnt about epiphytes and parasites. In the sessions we were informed that Pench Tiger Reserve was one of the best managed tiger reserves in the country. In short, the trip was extremely enlightening. It was not only a wake-up call towards conservation but it also taught us how to overcome our regional differences for a greater cause.

Tiger conservation: Centre asks states to raise, deploy STPF

Tags: Tiger conservation, STPF, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan New Delhi: Advancing efforts to conserve the growing population of tigers, the Centre today asked the states to expedite steps towards raising, arming and deploying the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) in and around big cat habitats. "We persuade all the states to raise, arm and deploy the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF). I would like to request all of you to ensure that this be expedited by all the states," Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan told All India Meeting of Field Directors of Tiger Reserves. Stating that field protection is something which continues to remain extremely high on tiger agenda of India, which holds over half the world's tiger population, the Minister said the Centre supported the states in a "very big way" to deploy the local workforce for protection of big cats. "Despite a 100 percent central assistance to four states-- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Orissa-- the deployment of STPF has not taken place," she said. Karnataka has emerged as the first state to deploy STPF. "I am happy to announce and also to congratulate Karnataka, which has emerged as the first state to implement the STPF," she said after distributing awards for best performance to various tiger reserves in the country. "Tiger conservation is a collective responsibility between government of India, state governments and civil society. Today tigers need support from one and all," Natarajan said. According to the latest tiger census report, the current tiger population is estimated at 1,706. The results include figures from 17 states with tiger reserves. The Minster also released a book 'Fundamentals of the Wildlife Management' written by Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority. Natarajan said that since last year, the Ministry has sharpened its focus on the tiger. "The centrally sponsored scheme of Project Tiger was revised in August 2011. Its allotment was stepped up to Rs 1216.86 crores, especially to support the states for securing inviolate space for tigers," she said. Spelling out the steps being taken by the Ministry, she said several additional components include change in the funding pattern in respect of north eastern states (90:10), raising compensation for man-animal conflict to Rs 2 lakh and acquisition of private land for making the core/critical tiger habitat inviolate. The Minister also said the Centre has given a nod for establishment of tiger safaris, interpretation/awareness centres under the existing component of 'co-existence agenda in buffer/fringe areas' and management of such centres through the respective Panchayati Raj institutions, and re- introduction of cheetah. PTI

Tribal villages oppose tiger reserve in Sathyamangalam

COIMBATORE: The Tamil Nadu forest department's push to get Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary declared a tiger reserve suffered a setback on Wednesday when grama sabhas in all 19 tribal-majority panchayats in the region passed separate resolutions against the move. The resolutions said the department had not consulted the local communities on the project, though Section 38 V of the Wildlife Protection Act makes it mandatory. The Wildlife Protection Act stipulates that approval from the grama sabha is essential before tiger reserve status is awarded to a reserve forest area. In addition, government is required to constitute an expert panel to study the impact of declaring an area a tiger reserve on the local community and the findings must be discussed in the grama sabha in the presence of forest officials, environmentalists and social scientists. Before local communities are asked to shift out of reserved area, authorities are required to seek the opinion of the grama sabha on whether it believes the people can co-exist with the wildlife. Also, relocation packages and compensation plan have to be approved by the grama sabha, which has the right to reject proposals of the government. Bhavani Sagar MLA P L Sundaram said that the forest department is all set to award tiger reserve status to Sathyamangalam and Meghamalai in Theni in the next few weeks, but the local communities have not been consulted. Sundaram had prompted the concerned grama sabhas to adopt resolutions condemning the forest department's move. He along with representatives of 10 panchayats in Thalavadi, six in Sathyamangalam and three in Bhavani Sagar will meet chief minister J Jayalalithaa on May 7 and hand over the resolutions. They would request the chief minister to restart the entire process by taking the local community in confidence and abiding by the applicable laws. The delegation would also press for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act in Sathyamangalam to protect tribals living in the forest fringes from forced eviction.

`Tiger Dynasty`: Observational docudrama packed with emotions

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 14:38 Tags: Tiger Dynasty, Observational docudrama New Delhi: National award-winning documentary "Tiger Dynasty", tracing the journey of translocated tigers in India and shown in Britain as part of a special BBC series on endangered wildlife, is an action-packed story of adaptation and survival in unfamiliar territory. Full of stunning close-up visuals of tigers and other animals in their natural habitat, the film by acclaimed wildlife cinematographer S Nallamuthu is about young tigress Baghani, who is chosen to start a new dynasty in Sariska, where rampant poaching had wiped out the entire big cat population. There she is left to hook up with hot-blooded male suitor Rajore amid leopards and threat of poachers. And for the next two years, every aspect of their lives is followed by the camera. "The film is about Baghani, daughter of Machli, who ruled the fort for over a decade in Ranthambore. Drugged and airlifted from her home in Ranthambore to her new life in Sariska, Baghani finds herself in new territory and faces opposition from leopards for territory," Nallamuthu, whose work bagged Rajat Kamal awards for best environment film and cinematography, told reporters. After some initial hitches, Baghani gradually goes on to prove that she is top cut in Sariska reigning supreme over leopards. However, there is a setback as Rajore is poisoned by villagers and Baghani is left alone without a mate. But authorities translocate another tiger to give Baghani company, and slowly it seems she is ready to be a mother and script history in Sariska`s conservation efforts. The film, with music by Brett Aplin, is of 59 minutes duration and shot in a high definition (HD) format. Infra red cameras have also been used. With many firsts to his credit, Nallamuthu has worked on some of the country`s premier television shows ? "Living on the Edge", "The Great Escape", "Off the Beaten Path" and "Wheels". Asked how his film is doing abroad, he says, "I was informed by BBC (which is showing the film in the UK. Animal Planet has bought the rights for the US) that the viewership in the first telecast was two million and the film got an 8.3 rating." Nallamuthu, whose "Tiger Queen" made in 2010 portrayed how Machli was overthrown by Baghani, does not want to preach through his films. "My films are mainly drama based ones. I love to make observational docudramas with lots of emotions and stories. My idea is to make people watch these dramas and realise for themselves how important animals are," he says. The jury at the National Awards chose "Tiger Dynasty" for the "filmmaker`s powerful narrative that takes us deep into the jungle of Sariska and gives us an intimate and sensitive portrait of the life of tigers as they fight for survival in a challenging environment". The judges also the rewarded the filmmaker for "photographing with stunning images tigers and other wildlife animals in their natural habitat and giving us visuals which are both unique and poetic". PTI