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Friday, July 6, 2012

Corbett officials turn tigress into jackal

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times New Delhi, July 06, 2012 Circumstantial evidence of a tiger sacrifice was not enough. It took a forensic examination to indicate that a tigress was killed deep inside the Corbett National Park more than a month ago - not a jackal as forest officials claimed. On May 24, Corbett staff found the innards of an animal in the core area of the tiger reserve. Wildlife activists claimed it was a tiger's. But Ranjan Mishra, director of Corbett's tiger reserve, insisted the parts were those of a porcupine or jackal. Wildlife activists' suspicions of tiger poaching were aroused by the fact that forest officials found clothes, an empty box of sweets and ash at the Bijrani range deep inside the reserve. Activists said the material was evidence of a puja having been conducted. Tribes such as Bawarias usually conduct pujas before sacrificing wild animals, especially tigers. Anil Baluni, former vice-chairperson of the Uttarakhand environment and forest advisory committee, said the tigress was skinned and most of its body parts were taken away. Another Dehradun-based wildlife expert said entire body parts are taken away only in the case of big cats as they fetch high prices. Mishra, however, said, "There is a huge difference in the small intestine of tigers and other animals. We are sure this animal was not a tiger or tigress. We have sent the body parts for further analysis." The Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was asked to conduct a forensic examination of the intestines and initial reports point to the animal having been a tigress, sources told HT. "We have not received any report from WII so far," the state's chief wildlife warden SA Sharma said. "We are trying our best to save the tigers but patrolling round the clock is not possible. One or two poaching incidents should not be construed as tigers being unsafe in the big open jungle of Corbett," he said.

Ecotourism at Western Ghats sites may be streamlined

K. S. SUDHI The Hindu EXPLORING NATURE: In this file photo, Foreign tourists make most of the opportunities available for trekking in Thekkady, a big draw for wild life enthusiasts. Photo: H.Vibhu Ecotourism activities are permitted in 60 forest destinations including 12 of the nominated sites in the State. Ecotourism activities in the World Heritage Sites of the Western Ghats may be streamlined after assessing the carrying capacity of the individual sites. While inscribing the 39 serial sites of the Ghats, the World Heritage Committee has asked India to initiate “proactive responsible tourism management in anticipation of increased future visitation, and to ensure that visitation remains within the capacity of the property.” The world heritage tag is expected to increase the global attention and visitation to these sites. The inscribed sites from Kerala include the Silent Valley and Eravikulam national parks and the Periyar Tiger Reserve, which are some of the preferred ecotourism destinations in the State. Similar activities are there in the Shendurney, Neyyar, Peppara, Chinnar, and Aralam wildlife sanctuaries, the forest ranges of Kulathupuzha and Palode, and the forest divisions of Ranni, Konni, and Achencoil. Ecotourism activities are permitted in 60 forest destinations including 12 of the nominated sites in the State. The visitor attraction to Eravikulam is the vast expanses of Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana), which flowers gregariously once in 12 years, and the possibility of watching Nilgiri tahr, an endangered mountain ungulate, in close quarters. During the last mass flowering of the plants in 2006, over 5 lakh visitors reached there in three months. The maximum turnout for a single day was around 8,000 persons. The heavy turnout did not have much ecological impacts, thanks to the vigil and strict enforcement of visitor management measures, said Roy P. Thomas, who was the then wildlife warden. Visitors were not permitted to pluck flowers and overstay in the area. They were provided vehicles for accessing the park, Mr. Thomas said. In the tiger reserve, a boat ride along the Thekkadi lake and high chances of watching wildlife including elephants and deer in action are the key attractions. The average annual tourist turnout is around 7 lakh. Of this, around 3 lakh opt for boating, said Sanjayankumar, deputy director of the reserve. Ecotourism activities such as bamboo rafting, boating, and trekking are allowed in a limited scale, based on the findings of the carrying capacity, he said. The Silent Valley had 23,241 visitors including 5,000 students during the last financial year. The ecotourism activities are restricted to around one sq km of the 89 sq km park. The maximum turnout was around 200 persons during the peak season, the park authorities said. N.V. Trivedi Babu, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Eco Development and Tribal Welfare), said that the Kerala Forest Department was planning to asses the carrying capacity of the ecotourism sites in the State. All divisional forest officers of the State were directed to carry out the assessment. The support of agencies such as the Kerala Forest Research Institute will be sought wherever required.

Anil Deshmukh to pursue Bandu Dhotre's demands

TNN | Jul 6, 2012, 01.29AM IST NAGPUR: With wildlife activist Bandu Dhotre's indefinite fast entering the fourth day, support is pouring in. On Thursday, state food and civil supplies minister Anil Deshmukh visited the fasting activist and said he would pursue the demands raised by Dhotre with government. Deshmukh was with Dhotre for over 25 minutes. He showed keen interest in the presentation by Dhotre on how tigers were being left to die outside Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) owing to poor protection. Dhotre pointed out that areas around Tadoba were the only living corridor in the country from where tigers disperse but as there was no wildlife management in these areas, tigers were being poached easily. The same situation persists in areas outside other sanctuaries. He also drew attention of Deshmukh towards a government order of 2003 that area under protection of a forest guard should be between 500-750 hectares. However, forest guards are routinely looking after over 1,500 hectares and also performing multiple other assignments. Deshmukh, who is aware of wildlife issues grappling Vidarbha, agreed with Dhotre demands of secret funds for intelligence gathering, a forensic lab for wildlife in Nagpur, rescue centre in Chandrapur, forest fire protection etc. He promised to take up the demands with forest minister Patangrao Kadam and secretary Praveen Pardeshi. Deshmukh even called up Kadam from the venue and talked to him over phone. Kadam also talked to Dhotre. Deshmukh appealed to Dhotre to call off the fast. However, Pardeshi has called a meeting at Mumbai to discuss the demands raised by Dhotre on Friday. A four-member team has left for Mumbai to meet Pardeshi. Meanwhile, chief wildlife warden SWH Naqvi on Thursday wrote to Dhotre on status of various demands raised by him. The outcome of the fast will depend on the talks with Pardeshi, sources in Dhotre camp said.