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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve body floats 'priority entry' scheme for tourists

Mazhar Ali, TNN | Oct 6, 2012, 01.12AM IST CHANDRAPUR: There is good news finally for wildlife tourists planning for a safari in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) with the start of new season. TATR will open with 'priority offer' for its visitors, provided Supreme Court lifts the ban on tourism in tiger reserve in coming days. TATR Tiger Conservation Foundation has approved Rs 4 lakh for the purchase of books titled 'Wild Maharashtra', published by Sanctuary Asia, in its last governing body meeting. A total of 400 books, procured at subsidized rates, will be sold to tourist at cover price and foundation expects to earn handful sum from the sale. Those tourists purchasing the book costing Rs 2950 will be offered 'priority entry' into the tiger reserve, provided the Supreme Court lifts ban on tourism in tiger reserve. Decision to give 'offer' on the book was taken during the meeting of the foundation, headed by forest minister Patangrao Kadam, on September 18. The foundation will utilize the sum earned from the sale of books on 'capacity building' of the forest department staffers. The minutes of the meeting have specific mention about the decisions. Greens have, however, slammed the idea of offering privilege entry to tourists. President of Friends of Tadoba, Niraj Potdar said, "The proposed offer on purchase of book is absurd and makes no sense. The wealthy tourists, who are capable of spending extra Rs 3000, will seek privilege entry by purchasing the book. The common tourists, who queue up for hours for tickets on gates, will be deprived of the chance of entry. It appears to be pathetic attempt to oblige the publication." Gate fees hiked for new season Todoba will open its gates to tourist with new fee structure after Supreme Court spells out its verdict on tourism in tiger reserves. TATR Tiger Conservation Foundation has decided to increase gate fees per vehicle to Rs 1000 on Saturday, Sunday and festive days. However, on week days tourists will be charged Rs 750 per vehicle. Earlier, the gate fee per vehicle was Rs 500. TATR is most popular tiger reserve in Central India visited by average over 60,000 tourists a year. The apex court is expected deliver its verdict on on October 9.

India loses 39 rhinos, 69 tigers in just a year

Chetan Chauhan & Digambar Patowary, Hindustan Times New Delhi/Guwahati, October 05, 2012 India's National Wildlife Week celebrations have been dampened by shocking deaths of endangered animals - 69 tigers and 39 rhinos in the first nine months of the year. Tiger deaths in 2012 are more than five times higher than last year's 13 casualties and the highest since 2001, when 72 big cats died. Of the 69 tigers, 41 fell prey to poachers. "Many poaching cases were from the fringe areas of tiger reserves, where protection isn't adequate," said Kishore Rithe, member, National Board for Wildlife. In 2010, the National Tiger Conservation Authority recorded 1,706 tigers, an increase of over 20% in four years. Maharashtra and Uttarakhand, which saw the highest increase, reported 12 tiger deaths each. The National Wildlife Crime Bureau is alarmed that poaching has spread from the north to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the south. Rhinos in Assam's Kaziranga National Park (KNP) faced a greater threat from floods than poachers this year. While 28 were drowned in floods in the Brahmaputra in June and September, 11 were wiped off by poachers. The most recent poaching cases were on September 27 and claimed two rhinos. Environment ministry officials said the protocol issued after the floods was ignored. Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan blamed the shortage of staff. "The Assam government has done its best. But there is a genuine shortage of people," she said. Kaziranga had 2,290 rhinos, according to the 2010 census report. Rhino horns have a huge demand as aphrodisiacs in south Asian countries. Three smugglers arrested on Thursday claimed each rhino horn fetches them at least Rs. 40 lakh. A poached tiger is worth over Rs. 30 lakh in the international market. India's borders with Nepal and Myanmar are the two transit routes. "Vietnam and Cambodia are the main destinations as Chinese medicines based on tiger body parts are produced there," said a document circulated by an international wildlife protection body.