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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Palamu Tiger Reserve officials upset with CRPF misdemeanour

TNN | May 10, 2012, 03.20AM IST DALTONGANJ: Tiger trackers in Palamu Tiger Reserve (PTR) are scared of moving around freely following harassment meted out to one of them, by the central paramilitary force. The CRPF is presently carrying out phase two of operation 'Octopus' against the Maoists in the PTR According to tiger tracker Hikmat Singh (35), security forces stopped him when he was on his way to work at Toungaree village under Garu West range of PTR on sunday suspecting him to be a Maoist. Singh said that despite showing his departmental identity card, tiger trapping camera and two SIM cards and cell phones, the security forces paid no heed to his words and slapped him twice for carrying a cell phone in the jungle! "The security forces forced another tracker Pooshan Singh to say that he works as a tiger tracker in the day but at night he work for the naxalites," he said, asserting that most people in the forest do whatever the security men dictate them. However, Singh's ordeal did not end here. The security forces took him down to their base camp and quizzed him there. Finally mukhiya Manju Devi was called in by the security forces who managed to free him from the clutches of the security personnel. Singh said his tiger trapping camera, identity card, cap, tiffin box, two Sim cards, cell phone and one 'gamchee' (towel) are still in the possession of the security forces. PTR field director SHE Kazmi said Singh's ordeal is concerning and the security forces should try to understand the circumstances under which these trackers work. When Hikmat Singh had shown his departmental identity card, tiger trapping camera etc the security forces should have cross checked it with other forest officials, he said. DIG CRPF B K Sharma said presence of any person in jungle with two Sim cards, cell phone arouses suspicion and if in such a situation, a person is quizzed one should not take it otherwise. But when asked about seizure of tiger trapping camera, tiffin box, cell phone, identity card and other belongings by the security forces, Sharma assured to look into the matter.

The single male and other rare animals

A camera-trapping exercise in Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve yields a spectacular array of images of rare wildlife By Cara Tejpal Fifteen thousand photographs, 20 missing cameras, 22 stolen data cards, monitoring teams under gunfire and a triumphant climax. It may sound like the plot of an exceptionally thrilling espionage novel, but in reality it represents a spark of hope in an otherwise bleak conservation landscape. A camera-trapping exercise in Arunachal Pradesh’s Namdapha Tiger Reserve has yielded a spectacular array of images of rare wildlife, including a single, male tiger. Aaranyak, an organisation that works for the conservation of biodiversity in Northeast India (, joined hands with the Namdapha Tiger Reserve Authority to conduct the two-month long project. All 60 employees of the forest department, along with a dozen Aaranyak field staff took forward the mission. The teams placed 90 state-of-the-art cameras with motion sensors across the 300 sq km of the park and spent the next eight weeks monitoring the cameras, collecting photographs, replacing batteries and managing the massive amount of data that was generated. The National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Panthera Foundation, USA supported this camera-trapping exercise. Covering an area of almost 2000 sq. km, Namdapha’s predominantly unexplored forest has its fair share of problems. Most worrying of which is the anthropogenic pressure on the park from tribal communities living within the core area of the reserve and a long-standing culture of hunting in the region. Researchers were shot at twice by poachers, endured one attack on them at their campsite, had cameras broken and memory cards stolen during the course of the survey. Namdapha also borders Myanmar, a country well known for its hand in wildlife crime. There is a lack of infrastructure and the skeletal staff of the forest department is hard-pressed to patrol the arduous terrain. “The Namdapha camera-trapping was a wonderful exercise and the joint team of Aaranyak and Namdapha Staff has accomplished a tough but rewarding job. However, to save the jewels living in the park, Namdapha management will have to be smarter and more diligent as the poachers today are better equipped and more numerous than before,” says Firoz Ahmed, an award winning wildlife biologist from Aaranyak and the person in charge of the camera-trapping exercise. The images published by Aaranyak are breathtaking, though a little grainy (camera traps, what do you expect?). Portly hog-badgers, shy binturongs, lithe spotted linsangs, the elusive Asiatic golden cat, clouded leopards and marbled cats are just a few of the animals that this slide show will bring to you. And perhaps in these images we can see the dawn of a new era of conservation in Namdapha. The pictures serve as a reminder of the precious biodiversity this country harbours. Cara Tejpal is a student of nature, wildlife conservationist and compulsive traveller based out of New Delhi

6 booked for trespassing in Kharangla forest

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | May 10, 2012, 05.33AM IST NAGPUR: It is apparent that the forest department has not learnt any lessons from the Palasgaon tiger poaching incident. There's a literal free for all in the sensitive Bhiwapur forest range, despite the proven presence of many tigers. On the night of May 5, on the eve of the machan census, Umred police booked six persons under Section 26 of the Indian Forest Act (IFA) 1927 for trespassing in the reserve forest of Ranbodi in Kharangla beat. The cops are also probing the role of wildlife enthusiast Sanjay Soni from Nagpur, who too was roaming in the forest in his vehicle, and described himself as a forest officer. Soni has flatly denied all charges. Those who have been booked are Kedarnath Pathak, Jaggu Sahu, Raju Anru, Mukesh Raut, Ravindra Raut, and Digamber Sontakke, all from Umred. Sources said that actually the offences should have been registered by forest officials. "Since no objectionable material was found on the accused, an offence of trespassing was registered. Without prior permission you cannot move in the reserve forest. All have been released on bail," PSI AK Mankar told TOI. The Ranbodi area has been declared sensitive and the free movement of vehicles here raises question mark over safety of tigers in the area, especially in the backdrop of Palasgaon poaching incident. Meanwhile, Nagpur division officials are puzzled what Soni was doing in Ranbodi? Soni says he went to the forest for patrolling with prior permission of RFO Londhe. "While Londhe was resting in Navegaon (Deshmukh) guesthouse, he had asked me to check water holes in the forest area. Those booked were sarpamitras from Umred," he said. Londhe is RFO of Kuhi range while Dipali Vankar is in charge of Bhiwapur range. So, Londhe had no reason to entertain Soni in another officer's range. Sources said the Nagpur forest division is not taking action against Soni since their own officer has been caught on the wrong foot. Chief conservator of forests (CCF) for Nagpur Circle CR Gajbhiye said he has taken note of the Soni episode. "I've asked deputy conservator PK Mahajan to take action against Soni, who, I was told, posed as a forest officer." However, Gajbhiye's orders have not been acted upon yet. Forest department sources said that Soni and his two friends had volunteered to be part of the machan census exercise on May 6 in Bor wildlife sanctuary. Their I-cards were also prepared, but Soni chose to visit Ranbodi and Kharangla at the instance of Londhe. When asked about this, Soni said, "I was asked to volunteer in New Bor Sanctuary, where I was not interested. Hence, I preferred to go to Bhiwapur." Honorary district wildlife warden for Nagpur Kundan Hate has decided to register a formal complaint with PCCF (wildlife) SWH Naqvi in the matter. "Even persons with wildlife conservation credentials are not allowed in Bhiwapur range while others have a free run. The incident puts a question mark on protection in the area," he said.