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Friday, May 11, 2012

Goa mulls tiger reserve status for Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary

Last Updated: Friday, May 11, 2012, 10:57 0 Tags: Goa, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Tiger Panaji: Goa's BJP-led Government may push ahead with a proposal to declare Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and its adjoining areas as a tiger reserve, a move which if implemented will help in curbing mining in forest areas. State Forest Department is in talks with a local environmentalist, Nirmal Kulkarni, and NGOs associated with Ranathambore Tiger Reserve to collect data to establish presence of tigers in the sanctuary spread over 208.48 km. "The data will be collected through camera-traps, images and indirect evidences like tiger scat and their pug marks," Chief Wildlife Warden Richard D'Souza said. The sanctuary, located in North-Eastern Goa, is a continuous corridor for tigers, who usually walk into the region from neighbouring Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and also Maharashtra's Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. D'Souza claimed that providing tiger reserve status to Mhadei will not be a difficult task, but it will require rehabilitation of the villagers living within the sanctuary. As per Government estimates, 28 hamlets are located inside the sanctuary, carved out to protect wroughton's free- tailed bat, which is on the brink of extinction. The latest survey by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has established the presence of tigers over 322 sq km covering six wildlife sanctuaries in the coastal state. The survey was conducted by WII with the help of 60 officers and personnel of Goa Forest Department. "Goa can potentially be home to a small breeding population of tigers which would be sustained by immigrants from Anshi-Dandeli as well as Sahyadri," WII said in a report to the Government. Tiger reserve status to wildlife sanctuaries will go a long way in curbing mining menace which has gripped the forest areas of Goa, activists have said. Government records indicate that there are 44 active mines in the vicinity of wildlife sanctuaries. Moreover, 34 mining leases exist within the sanctuaries. PTI

Palasgaon tiger stable but not out of danger

TNN | May 11, 2012, 05.51AM IST NAGPUR: The Palasgaon tiger, which suffered injuries on its left paw and subsequent internal complications after getting entangled in a metal trap laid by poachers, has shown a slight improvement. However, vets treating it admit that it would be a big achievement to save the tiger. "Although the health parameters show some improvement and condition of the tiger has not deteriorated further, I still feel it is not out of danger," Dr NP Dakshinkar, the professor & head of department of medicine at the Nagpur Veterinary College, told TOI. On Thursday, a team of doctors including dean Dr A Samad, Dr Dakshinkar, Dr Gautam Bhojne, and forest officials including A K Saxena, additional PCCF (wildlife), Nagpur, East, ACF Kishore Mishrikotkar and honorary district wildlife warden Kundan Hate checked on the ailing tiger at the Seminary Hills nursery. It has been under treatment ever since it was brought here on April 28. The poaching incident happened on two days earlier. One tiger died and a third escaped the traps that were cleverly set at a waterhole on the outskirts of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. Dr Dakshinkar said although the tiger has not come out of the acute renal failure, there is definitely some improvement as toxic wastes are passing out. The tiger's liver functioning is absolutely normal and this possibly resulted in its improved appetite. "The animal consumed 2.5kg meat on Thursday, which is a good sign. The urea-creatinine levels are still high but show a declining trend," Dr Dakshinkar said. Looking into the tiger's improved condition, the vets have stopped administering IV fluids and as a change of strategy, are resorting to minimum medication. "If the need is felt, the fluids will be administered again," said Dr Dakshinkar. The vets are leaving no stone unturned to see that the tiger comes out of bad health. Sources said utmost care is being taken during the treatment. "On Thursday, it took three hours to put a plaster on the injured left paw of the animal," said sources.

Irritated by cattle loss, villagers try to take on tiger

TNN | May 11, 2012, 05.52AM IST CHANDRAPUR: Panic stricken villagers of Tekadi, located on the border of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, on Thursday morning tried to tackle a full grown tiger on their own. Aggrieved by the loss of their cattle killed by tigers, a group of villagers rushed to a tiger and tried to drive away the beast from the kill. However, timely intervention of local forest officers prevented any untoward incident. A tiger from TATR killed a bullock on the bank of Irai river close to Tekadi village on Wednesday night. The beast then dragged its kill to thick shrubs and devoured over it. After villagers learnt about the incident tension gripped the village. Twelve villagers went out in search of the kill and found the tiger sitting over it. "Even as small mob had gathered around, the tiger continued to devour its kill. Some people even tried to drive the beast away. But, team of foresters reached the spot in time and pacified the villagers," sources in forest department said. RFO Rautkar pacified the villagers. Later a rapid response team from Chandrapur forest division and police squad from Bhadrawati was also rushed to the spot. Through public address system the villagers were asked to go back to the village and the tiger was driven back into jungle by making 'haka' (din). "Tiger is safe and we have made all arrangements for its protection. The villagers might have dared to go close to tiger out of fear sycosis, however no untoward incident took place," said DCF, Chandrapur forest division, P Kalyankumar. He suspected that tiger could have came for water in Irai river and killed the cattle that was present at the water body. RFO Rautkar claimed that they have made all arrangements for monitoring the tiger's movement. "The cattle kill is on the same place. We have mounted four camera traps around the kill to monitor the tiger. A machan has also been built close to the spot to keep a watch over the tiger," he said.

7 tigers spotted at Nagzira, none at Navegaon during census

TNN | May 11, 2012, 05.54AM IST Bhandara: There is mixed news for wildlife lovers, as a number of tigers were sighted in Nagzira tiger sanctuary while not a single tiger was seen at Navegaon Bandh national park during the recent machan census. Forest officials assured though that there are tigers in the national park, but they might not have visited waterholes during the census. Assistant conservator of forest (Nagzira) Ramesh Saraf said that during the water hole census in Nagzira tiger sanctuary on May 6, volunteers and staff sighted 7 tigers, 7 leopards, 196 wild dogs, 45 sloth bear, 712 sambar, 476 bison, 1,177 chital. The waterhole census begun on May 6 and concluded 24 hours later, with 84 wild life lovers and NGO representatives, including 15 ladies, participated in the census. These people came from as far away as Amravati, Akola, Akot, Pune, Nagpur and Bhandara. Census was also conducted in Navegaon Bandh national park on the same day, said ACF Govind Yede. Here, people sighted 6 leopards, 85 sloth bear, 311 bison, 36 sambar, 30 chital, 151 wild boar, 272 blue bull, 46 wild dogs, 19 wolf, 2 hyena, 56 barking deer, 16 mongoose, 129 peacocks, 1,365 rhesus macaque, 565 langoor, 7 porcupine, 5 civet cat and 9 wildcats. Chintu Rajput and Munna Nagori, activists of Wild Watch, said the high tiger density in Nagzira tiger sanctuary's 355 sq km area is proven by sighting of 7 tigers. As for Navegaon Bandh national park, though no tiger was counted during census, officials said the forest stretches up to Deori, and the resident tigers might have gone into the adjacent forest area.

MP govt wants to lease forest patches to private tour operators

Nitin Sethi, TNN | May 11, 2012, 06.20AM IST Madhya Pradesh govt has stirred a controversy by proposing to lease out large tracts of reserved forest lands to private tourism operators. NEW DELHI: After demanding that the core of tiger reserves be opened to tourism, the Madhya Pradesh government has mooted another controversial proposal, to lease out large tracts of reserved forest lands to private tourism operators. The proposal to develop 'ecotourism forests' through PPP mode could stir a controversy like the earlier one to open tiger reserves to tourism, which is now being contested in the Supreme Court. TOI accessed a draft of the proposed policy, shared by state officials with other stakeholders, lamenting the impact of UPA's Forest Rights Act which hands back forests to traditional owners claiming that would increase pressure on the green zones. It instead proposes that the forest department bid out forest patches of 50-150 sq km through competitive bidding to those interested in tourism to control the lands for a period of 10 years. While the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 notes that no forest can be diverted for non-forest use without permission of the centre, the Madhya Pradesh government believes that tourism falls outside the purview of the regulations. HS Pabla, head of the ecotourism board of Madhya Pradesh government, told TOI that the state law department had suggested that tourism operations did not fall foul of the act's provisions. Similar attempts by forest departments and governments to lease out forest lands to paper, pulp and other industries has failed over the past two decades owing to pressure from communities that have traditional rights. Laying the blame for decimation of forests squarely on the people living in proximity to forests, the MP policy paper suggests that tourism would help save the green patches and provide jobs to tribals and others living off the forests. At a time when state and central governments are attempting to give back rights to tribals, the move is bound to raise concerns.

Forest Department red flags Arkacheri work

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | May 11, 2012, 05.32AM IST NAGPUR: After initial hesitation, the Buldhana forest division has finally asked the irrigation department to stop work on Arkacheri, a minor irrigation project that falls within 10 km of Melghat tiger reserve (MTR). The letter was issued by Buldhana deputy conservator of forests Dilip Gujela on the direction of Mohan Jha, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Amravati Circle, who made it clear that although project site is non-forest land, it falls within 10 km of MTR and hence needed prior permission from National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). Gujela wrote on May 7 to executive engineer of minor irrigation department asking to stop the work but sources said irrigation department actually increased the pace of work. The matter is already being heard in the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court through a PIL filed by Sonala villagers. Irrigation department chief engineer R B Shukla claimed work had been stopped but asserted that the site was beyond 10 km periphery of the tiger reserve and was not even in the buffer zone. When asked about forest department letter, he said, "I will let you know." Gujela said he had asked the irrigation department to stop work till permission was received from wildlife department. A report on Arkacheri has been submitted to the CCF Mohan Jha. The project violates provision of Environment Protection Act (EPA) 1986 which is not being implemented seriously by the forest department. "As per provisions of the Act, irrigation department has to submit a proposal to wildlife department and take permission as the project site is within 10 km of tiger reserve," Gujela said. The irrigation department plans to divert Ar river into Kacheri nala. Ar comes from Wan wildlife sanctuary. As per the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, diversion of river water from a protected area is prohibited without wildlife department permission. The Rs 47.51 crore Arkacheri will irrigate 1,900 hectares land but farmers claim over half of the command area land was already under well irrigation. Villagers of Sonala, where Arkacheri is coming up, said they never demanded the project as Wan medium irrigation project was situated just 5 km upstream of Arkacheri and was an assured source of water for the wells falling in submergence of the new project. Besides, the new site has no hard stratum generally needed to construct a dam. Ravikiran Govekar, assistant inspector general (AIG) with NTCA's Nagpur regional office, said he had written to MTR officials and was awaiting reply.