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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mahanadi Wildlife comes under unified control

Siba Mohanty BHUBANESWAR: More than four years after Satkosia was designated a Tiger Reserve, the Odisha Government has finally brought Mahanadi Wildlife Division under the unified control of the Field Director, meeting a long-standing demand of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The Regional Conservator of Forests (RCCF), Angul, is the Field Director of Satkosia Tiger Reserve which comprises two wildlife sanctuaries such as Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary and Baisipally Sanctuary, both protected areas contiguous in nature. While the Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, managed by Satkosia Divisional Forest officer (DFO), was under administrative control of RCCF, Angul, Baisipally Wildlife Sanctuary was under the RCCF, Bhubanbeswar. Besides, Baisipally was managed by Divisional Forest Officer of Mahanadi Wildlife Division. The NTCA, while according Tiger Reserve status on Satkosia, had been insisting on bringing Baisipally under the control of the unified command of the Field Director. “There were two issues that the national authority has long been pressing for __� one, a full-fledged Field Director (FD) for the Tiger Reserve and bringing Baisipally under the FD’s jurisdiction,” sources in the Forest and Environment department said. In fact, the last meeting with NTCA earlier this month had also seen the authority expressing its dissatisfaction over the Odisha Government going slow over the process. “Conservation management in a Tiger Reserve has many complex issues and the State Government should have realised this sooner than later,” the sources added. The Forest and Environment department, through a notification, has now taken out Mahanadi Wildlife Division from RCCF, Bhubaneswar’s control and entrusted it with the RCCF, Angul. Earlier, RCCF, Angul, Pandav Behera, was designated the full-time Field Director. Satkosia Tiger Reserve, spread over Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh, has a total area of 964 sq km with 524 sq km as core area which lies within Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary. While Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary has an area of 795.52 sq km, Baisipally is spread over 168.35 sq km. The total area of Mahanadi Wildlife Division is 437.29 sq km. Although Satkosia is a Tiger Reserve, the NTCA is not conducting the tiger enumeration this year since it has been designated a low-density reserve. On the other hand, Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) has already launched the exercise. Over 70 cameras have been installed over 400 sq km in the core area of the reserve. However, the outcome of the sign survey, basing on which the camera traps are installed, is yet to be complete. The STR authorities are expecting the report in the next few weeks. Once the sign survey indicates the tiger habitation, more cameras will be installed in the second phase during which the STR management plan to cover 1,200 sq km. The existing cameras will capture pictures of the the large cats for 40 days.

Karnataka govt finally approves a bypass for killer road in tiger reserve

TAGS: Endangered animals | Tiger reserves | Nagarhole | Karnataka government Many endangered animals have been killed by speeding vehicles on the Mysore-Mananthavadi road. Andhra: Kawal Sanctuary declared as tiger reserve Scores of endangered animals have been killed by speeding vehicles on the Mysore-Mananthavadi road, which passes through one of India's best protected tiger reserves -- Nagarahole -- in the last three decades. But now, the situation is likely to improve. In an effort to protect the remaining tigers and elephants, the Karnataka government has decided to develop a new road as a bypass for the Nagarahole tiger reserve. The Mysore-Mananthavadi road was known as the 'killer highway' among conservationists as a large number of animals, including elephants and tigers, had been mowed down by reckless drivers on the stretch. Elephants and tigers crossing the road, even during daytime in peak hour traffic, was a common sight in the area. The road is the major link for transportation of goods between Mysore and Mananthavadi. Efforts were made to regulate traffic on the road, but it brought little relief for the animals. However, after persistent efforts by conservationists, the government finally released Rs.18 crore to commence work on the new project, which includes developing 14 kilometres of an underdeveloped road outside the tiger reserve. Nagarahole tiger reserve, which is part of the national park, comprises an area of 643 sq km and holds approximately 65-70 tigers. It forms part of a large tiger habitat comprising Bandipura, Mudumalai and Waynad -- all protected areas with several other reserved forests. The original Mysore-Mananthavadi highway, passing through the southern part of Nagarahole tiger reserve, one of the best habitats for tiger and Asiatic elephant, has fragmented and dissected the wildlife corridor between Nagarahole and Bandipura tiger reserves. "Fortunately, an alternative underdeveloped road that would pass outside the tiger reserve was available for a section of the highway between Dammanakatte and Udbur junction (of the Mysore-Mananthavadi Road). This alternative road reduces the highway length within the tiger reserve by about 10 km, thereby consolidating about 50 sq km of prime tiger habitat. The government has taken a pro-active step," said conservation biologist Sanjay Gubbi, who fought extensively for the alternate road. Interestingly, the alternate road is longer by a mere 4 km, but will provide connectivity to 11 villages, thereby helping nearly 25,000 people. The villages were not even connected by the state transport units. Now the villagers will get improved transportation facilities in the name of tiger conservation. "They can now take their agricultural produce directly to the markets while previously they relied largely on middlemen due to lack of transportation facilities. Frequent buses now help school and college going students," pointed out Gubbi. Read more at:

'Action against tiger poachers will not be considered a crime'

PTI May 22, 2012, 07.51PM IST MUMBAI: Taking a stern stand against poachers, Maharashtra government today decided that action taken by forest authorities against those caught while hunting down tigers will not be considered a crime. Talking to reporters here, forest minister Patangrao Kadam said if the forest officials fire upon the poachers injuring or killing them, the action will not be considered a crime. The minister said his ministry has sanctioned 70 additional forest guards for Tadoba tiger reserve and 90 guards for Pench. He said the forest guards will be fully armed. "There have been instances when the guards have been booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against the poachers. The government did not want this to happen," he said. The minister said recently two tigers were caught in a steel trap and died. "A CID inquiry has been instituted to find out whether they died because of poaching or were electrocuted," he added. Besides this, a four-member committee of experts, who have served as chief conservator of forest, has been appointed to advise the government on steps to be taken for precautions against poaching of tigers. Kadam said he had asked the power department officials to check electricity lines in the tiger reserves and also told the irrigation department to ensure maximum water holes. He said Range forest officers have been provided 100 jeeps and State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) troops have been deployed in Sironcha to prevent trafficking of teakwood. He said a secret fund of Rs 50 lakh has been sanctioned to give incentives to informers providing tips about smugglers and poachers to the forest officials.

10 forest officials taken hostage

Express News Service BARIPADA: Ten forest personnel have been held hostage by the residents of Gopinathpur village inside Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Mayurbhanj district on Wednesday. They include three foresters, two forest guards and five Protection Assistants. The villagers who had taken hostage the forester of Nigirda range Khirod Chandra Singh along with a PA on Tuesday, again kidnapped eight others demanding release of three villagers who were arrested on charges of poaching in the forest. The three villagers are Mansid Nag (40) of Gopinathpur village, Lada Tabundia (35) of Saruda village and Lanka Sinku (35) of Bagdaga village under Rairangpur forest division. The officials who have been held hostage include forester Chandra Sekhar Mishra of Lengdakocha range, forester Biranchi Narayan Mohapatra of Dhuduruchampa range and two forest guards - Jhangul Hansda and Amit Kumar Bindhani. The other five are Protection Assistants. Sources said an army of around 60 villagers cordoned off the forest range offices and took the officials hostage. Later, they took them to their village and informed the forest officials to release the arrested to get the officials freed. Meanwhile, the Forest Department and the district administration have engaged mediators to discuss the matter with the villagers. Regional Conservator of Forests and Field Director of STR Anup Nayak said five mediators were negotiating with the villagers.