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Friday, May 25, 2012

Tiger found dead in Pilibhit

PTI | May 24, 2012, 07.52PM IST PILIBHIT (UP): The carcass of a tiger was recovered from a drain in Haripur forest range here this afternoon, a forest official said. The tiger was found dead near Dhanaraghat area in the district, Regional forest officer V K Singh said, adding, it appeared to be a natural death. "The body is being sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly for postmortem," he said.

Maharashtra: 'Shoot tiger poachers on sight'

Mumbai: In the backdrop of tragic killing of eight tigers in the state this year, Maharashtra government has ordered its forest guards to shoot poachers on sight in a bid to prevent hunting and killing of big cats and other wildlife animals. Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam was quoted as telling reporters, “Forest guards should not be booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against poachers”. “The state will also send more rangers and jeeps into forests, and will offer secret payments to informers who give tips about poachers and animal smugglers,” he was quoted as saying. Maharashtra reportedly has 169 tigers and most of them inhabit three tiger reserves in Vidarbha region Illegal poaching remains a serious threat, with tiger parts sought in traditional Chinese medicine fetching high prices in the black market. However, it isn’t very certain if this measure will put a check on the monstrous activity. According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India, 14 tigers have been killed by poachers in India so far this year – one more than the total number of tigers killed in 2011.

Treat doubtful deaths as poaching: NTCA

FRIDAY, 25 MAY 2012 00:22 PNS | NEW DELHI Close on the heels of rising poaching of big cats, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in a strong advisory addressed to all the Chief Wildlife Wardens (CWW) has stated “every case of tiger and leopard death should henceforth be treated as case of poaching unless otherwise proved beyond reasonable doubt”. Hence, if a tiger death is classified as occurring due to natural causes, this should be substantiated by adequate field evidence and factual details while reporting to NTCA, states the advisory. Hence, the CWW’s while reporting tiger deaths can not simply get away while reporting a tiger death by giving pretexts of territorial in-fighting, natural deaths etc. This comes in the wake of four recent poaching incidents of tiger and three of leopards in Maharashtra. Earlier, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had set alarm bells ringing after she informed the house in the just concluded Budget Session that there have been 14 cases of poaching of tigers reported this year so far. Throwing light on the “water-shed advisory”, SP Yadav, joint director, NTCA said: “any incident of tiger death would now call for more detailed field investigation. While natural mortality owing to density related stress does occur in a tiger habitat but from henceforth, it would have to be established based on categorical evidence.” Tiger source areas are targeted by poachers and tigers also become victims of non-targeted killings due to man-tiger conflicts. There is need to ensure adequate caution while classifying tiger deaths due to “natural” causes. As per the advisory note, the area from where tiger death has been reported has to be thoroughly combed to ensure that there are no metal traps or snares in the area. Evidence related to unauthorized vehicular movement, use of fire arms, poisoning near water points, natural salt licks and poisoning of livestock kills made by tiger or leopard needs to be explored in details. Not only this any history of recurring livestock depredation , human deaths or injuries due to wild carnivores in the area should also be taken into account along with cases related to compensation/ ex-gratia payment The day to day patrolling by field staffs and supervisory checks at senior levels should ensure prevention actions as well as proactive detection rather than retroactive actions. This would also facilitate retrieval of carcasses before purification thereby facilitating forensic examination in laboratory.

Karnataka govt finally approves a bypass for killer road in 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:

Couple selling fake tigers nails, paws held

TNN | May 25, 2012, 02.12AM IST NAGPUR: With poaching incidents on the rise in the recent past, the forest department is leaving no stone unturned and officials are taking even fake seizure seriously. On Thursday afternoon, acting on a tip-off, the wildlife and territorial wings of the forest department arrested a couple selling fake tiger nails and paws on RPTS Road near Laxmi Nagar. The couple has been identified as Rajgir Pahadirajput (32), and Mamuta Pahadirajput (25). Both claimed to be residents of Shanti Mufatlal Nagar slums in Thane near Mumbai. The couple originally belonged to Shimoga in Karnataka. The tip-off was given by sarpa mitra Chinmay Deshpande to naturalist Udayan Patil and honorary district wildlife warden Kundan Hate. Deshpande engaged the couple in talk till Patil and Hate reached the spot. The nails and paws were being offered for Rs 1000-4000 depending on the bargaining power of the customers. "We followed the couple travelling in an autorickshaw from RPTS to Wardha Road near Paul Complex. The woman got down and went near a footpath in search of a customer. We caught hold of them and brought to the forest office," said Hate. During search, several fake tiger nails and paws were seized from the couple's custody. The accused were selling nails and paws under the garb of 'rudraksh' malas and 'jadi buttis'. The nails and paws kept in two bags were also examined by assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Kishore Mishrikotkar and Girish Vashisht who found them to be fake. Vigilance divisional forest officer (DFO) D W Pagar alerted the anti-poaching and mobile squads to conduct raids near Khapri bridge where the gang of Pahadirajputs was staying illegally. Rajgir said there were eight members spread out in the city selling the fake nails and paws to prospective buyers. While in custody, he received several calls from the customers, indicating the gang had a good network in the city. The gang is living in the city for the past two months. Its other members are operating in Wardha too. The couple admitted to making fake nails and paws with the help of goat skin hair and paws. Dead cattle hooves were stuck with good quality glue to the goat paws giving it a shape like tiger paws. After panchnama, the couple was taken near Khapri bridge where four male gang members fled in the dark leaving all women members. The squad seized more than 100 fake nails and paws. While filing the report, the search and hunt for absconding members was still on. During the probe, the couple denied they were professional poachers. They even claimed they have never sighted a tiger in the wild, but had no answers how they landed up in the trade. They claimed to be 'toran' sellers. Although no case can be made under the Wildlife Protection Act for selling fake tiger nails and paws, a case can be filed under Section 420 of the IPC. The forest officials plan to hand over the investigations to the police department.

Tribals incited by sand mafia

May 25, 2012 DC Hyderabad The sand mafia is trying to instigate tribals and locals against the protection measures for tigers in the Kawal Tiger Reserve in Adilabad district. According to the forest department officials, wildlife wing, although there is no threat to those living in settlements in the tiger reserve area, the sand mafia is instigating protests. After the Kawal sanctuary was notified as a tiger reserve, the state forest officials cracked the whip against illegal sand dredging on the banks of Kadiyam river flowing through the sanctuary as well as the Godavari river along the periphery of the sanctuary. An official of the wildlife wing said, “We strongly suspect the role of the sand mafia, which has been active in the area, of not only funding the protests but also spreading the rumours.” Members of the sand mafia, who have lost their illegal revenue due to prohibition of sand dredging, are now campaigning against the tiger reserve by scaring tribals that they will be driven out. Forest officials say that unless the tribals themselves request to be relocated they will not be shifted. Wildlife department deputy conservator of forests, Mr A. Shankaran, said, “Sand in the forest area is a forest produce. Sand mining is illegal. It’s an even bigger offence within the sanctuary and much more serious crime in a tiger reserve.

Wildlife Institute of India report on wildlife underpasses acceptable, says Joshi

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | May 25, 2012, 02.04AM IST NAGPUR: Union minister for road transport and highways Dr C P Joshi on Thursday said the report of ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) on NH6 for remodelling the road in wildlife corridors will be acceptable to his ministry. Joshi was in Mouda, 35km from here, to lay symbolic stone laying of Bhandara-Nagpur four-lane road work in 45km stretch on Thursday. The work on the project had already started in April by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). To a question, Joshi admitted that forest clearances have stalled work on NH6 and NH7. However, when pointed out that these patches cut tiger corridors to 10 protected areas (PAs), he remained mum. The issue of corridors and elevated underpasses for wildlife was also raised by state ministers Rajendra Mulak and Shivajirao Moghe. When told that Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, which was appointed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to suggest mitigation measures on NH6, has asked to construct elevated underpasses on NH6, he said, "Let the report come, we will accept it." He also said that large-scale tree felling for road widening will be compensated. "I will order officials to take up plantations," he told TOI. The NHAI has felled around 60,000 trees in 150km radius of Nagpur to widen roads. It had to plant 1.80 lakh trees as per the ratio of 1:3, but it has hardly planted any trees. Of the 33 lakh km road length in India, 71,000km roads are with NHAI. Joshi said 6,000km roads will get added to it soon. "Even if hardly 3% road network is with NHAI, country's 40% traffic passes through its roads. Better roads have added to the growth rate and removal of poverty and hence the widening process. There are 17,000km single lane roads which will be converted into double lane," Joshi said. The roads transport ministry has chalked out an ambitious project to upgrade its roads under public-private partnership (PPP). "We will need Rs 2.20 lakh crore for the upgradation which will be carried out in phases," said Joshi. He said, in Maharashtra total road length with NHAI is 4,300km, of which 1,252km roads have been four-laned and work on 453km is in progress. "Work on four-laning of another 613km will be taken up soon. Besides, a target to upgrade 856km roads have been set in 2012-13," Joshi said. He added that upgradation of roads in Vidarbha would boost economic development for which Congress party is committed. All the ongoing and proposed works in Maharashta would need Rs 30,000 crore. Although no concrete plans, on the insistence of union social welfare minister and MP from Ramtek Mukul Wasnik, in whose constituency the function was organized, Joshi said he would remodel 100-year-old Kanhan bridge, four-laning of Khapri ROB, flyover at Butibori and a mega health check-up camp in the district as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR). "The NHAI will organize 10 such camps in India at the cost of Rs 5 crore. One such camp will be in Wasnik's constituency," said Joshi. The function was an all Congress show and not a single senior NCP leader attended the programme.

Poachers sneak into Melghat; hunt launched

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | May 24, 2012, 02.21AM IST NAGPUR: The forest department's intensive search following spurt in poaching in the aftermath of a 'red alert' seems to have failed to deter poachers. Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) has launched a massive hunt to nab a gang of poachers that has sneaked into the reserve from Madhya Pradesh. On May 21, the patrolling party found a five-member gang moving in Retwada in Raipur forest range bordering MP. One of the gang members had a 'bharmar' gun while another had a spear, generally used to kill herbivores. Chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director KP Singh said, "I'm visiting the spot and have also alerted all the three divisions in MTR - Sipna, Akot and Gugamal - following the gang's movement. On May 22, a forest guard patrolling near a waterhole saw the gang and tried to catch hold of one of them but as the poachers were four in number, they managed to escape," he said. Singh said during the scuffle, one of the gang members carrying clothes dropped them at the spot. "We are tracking the gang and have also sealed the areas bordering MP and help of local police and sniffer dogs is being taken. I suspect the gang must be concentrating on herbivores as they have not fired at on the staff yet," Singh said. Principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi said all the poaching cases in the recent past have been brought to light only by the forest guards and not by NGOs. "This is a good sign. We are not hiding anything. The Palasgaon and Borda tiger poaching cases were detected by our guards," Pardeshi said. "Scrupulous search is leading to more detection of poaching incidents," said Kishor Rithe, member of National Board for Wild Life ( NBWL). He added even as entire forest staff of regular and wildlife department seems to be doing an intensive search, there are more poaching attempts. Deaths of three leopards in FDCM's Surewani area adjoining Mansinghdeo sanctuary near Pench tiger reserve were also brought to notice by regular forest staff. The Tipeshwar tiger escaping a nylon wire trap and a poachers' gang moving in MTR was also detected by the staff. Rithe said the staff is coming across even smallest poaching attempts by villagers due to foot patrolling. Officers are not in a 'denial' mode. This will help the wildlife wing face new challenges, Rithe felt. However, the conservationist said there are still some lapses and shortcoming in some of the forest divisions. Rithe reiterated his demand for a special investigation team (SIT) under chief secretary.