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Friday, October 19, 2012

Leg injury triggers arthritis in Sunderbans tiger

KOLKATA: The Sunderbans tiger, undergoing treatment at the Alipore Zoo, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis on Thursday. Three zoo doctors — D N Banerjee, Arnab Majhi and Jayanta Roy Burman - in the presence of experts from the animal husbandry department, performed an X-ray on its hind legs on Thursday afternoon. "Initially, it has been detected with infected osteoarthritis. We will consult other experts before deciding on a complete course of treatment. The tiger had to be tranquillized before performing the X-ray and it has regained consciousness now," said zoo director K L Ghosh. Eminent vet and a member of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) Schedule I animal handling committee, Dr Swapan Ghosh, was also present when the X-ray was done. According to zoo director Ghosh, the prolonged internal injury on the tiger's left hind leg might have led to this arthritis. "This injury also restricted the tiger's movement, leading to a starvation in it," he added. Meanwhile, state wildlife advisory board member Joydip Kundu said that this injury may be an outcome of a man-animal conflict. "The forest department should take a serious note of it and step up the future conservation efforts in the Sunderbans," he added. Ghosh said that since it was a Thursday, the big cat was not offered any food. "It's much better now and we will shift to its normal diet from Friday again. We are also planning to release the tiger in an open enclosure. We will observe it and decide whether it's fit to be released back to the wild," Ghosh added. It may be noted that the zoo doesn't offer food to any of the carnivores on Thursdays. The zoo officials had earlier said that a weak posterior of the big cat is a cause for concern. The tiger, aged about seven years, was earlier diagnosed with prolonged starvation. "The blood and liver function tests had shown indication of starvation. There was discrepancy in the blood, urea and nitrogen ration (BUN) too. This showed that the kidney was not doing the filtering properly," zoo vet Dr D N Banerjee had earlier said. When contacted, Wildlife Institute of India's (WII) senior scientist YV Jhala said that complications like arthritis can be found in aged tigers. "A tiger, aged seven years, is not too young. However, it can't be called an old tiger either. So, the age is a key factor here," he added. Chief wildlife warden S B Mondal said it's up to the zoo officials to decide when or whether it can be released back to the wild. Vet's Take Renowned veterinary in the city, Dr Goutam Mukherjee, said that osteo arthritis is common in aged animals. A fluid called synovial fluid flows between the long bones, which prevents the friction between two bones. When an animal gets older, the fluid flow comes down resulting in frequent friction between the joint bones. This leads to osteo arthritis in an old animal. In this case, the arthritis was triggered by a prolonged injury. An improper healing of the injury might have resulted in constant damage of bones and muscle. This triggered infection and pain in the animal leading to arthritis

States asked to favour low-impact ecotourism in tiger reserves

P. OPPILI B. ARAVIND KUMAR A tiger sighted along the Masinagudy-Theppakadu stretch of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. File photo National Tiger Conservation Authority wants State-level strategy to be notified within a year The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asked the State governments to develop State-level legislation to favour a community driven, low-impact ecotourism in place of wildlife tourism to maintain the integrity and connectivity of Tiger reserves. In its ‘Guidelines for tourism in and around tiger reserves,’ the NTCA has categorically told the States that no new tourist infrastructure should be set up within the core/critical tiger habitat of the reserves in compliance with the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Supreme Court directives. It insists on the formation of a Local Advisory Committee (LAC) for each tiger reserve to review the tourism strategy, ensure site-specific norms on constructions, advise local and State governments and regularly monitor all tourist facilities as well as operators to ensure wildlife was not disturbed while taking visitors into the reserves. It has listed those who should be members of the LAC. The NTCA has also recommended the phasing out of permanent tourist facilities located inside core/critical tiger habitats which were being used for wildlife tourism within a time frame to be decided by the LAC. Strict plans ensuring low impact adherence by these facilities have to be developed and approved by the LAC to be strictly implemented. There should be no privately run facilities such as catering inside the core/critical tiger habitat where night stay is permitted and any existing facility has to be run by the Tiger Conservation Foundations, the NTCA has said. All the States have been asked to notify the State-level ecotourism strategy within a year from the date of notification of the guidelines by the NTCA/Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Tamil Nadu received the NTCA guidelines early this week — a copy of which is with The Hindu. The guidelines say adequate provisions must be made to ensure that ecotourism was not being relegated to purely high-end tourism that excluded local communities. Conservation fee The State governments should develop a system to ensure that the gate collections from the tiger reserves were utilised by the management for specific conservation purposes and not to go as revenue to the State exchequer. Such a step would ensure that resources generated from tourism were earmarked for conservation, local livelihood development, tackling man-animal conflict and welfare measures for field staff of the reserve. Besides, the State governments should charge a conservation fee from the tourism industry for eco-development and local community uplift. The Chief Wildlife Warden has to ensure that each tiger reserve prepares a tourism plan as part of the tiger conservation plan vis-à-vis the NTCA’s technical guidelines. The plan should include identification of corridor connectivity and important wildlife habitats and mechanisms to secure them. The guideline has also recommended the identification and monitoring of ecologically sensitive areas surrounding the tiger reserves to ensure the ecological integrity or corridor/buffer areas which will prevent encroachment.

Let's look at what really lies beneath

Prerna Bindra October 18, 2012 India's ailing economy has found a new scapegoat - environment and forests. For most things that go wrong these days, from power shortage to slow growth, the blame is tossed at the door of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), the paradigm being that forests, wildlife and green laws are hurdles to development. So much so, that a Group of Ministers established to 'rationalise' coal mining in forests recommended scrapping 'no-go' areas and public hearings. The latest salvo is the National Investment Board (NIB), a proposal to boost 'investor sentiment'. The NIB is envisaged to ensure that mega projects sail through, bypassing statutory procedures, laws and without bothering about their environmental and social impacts. Why is India bending over backwards to accommodate large investors and sidestep democratic tenets, when nowhere in the world are key considerations like public health, environment and biodiversity ignored in establishing projects? More importantly, is there any basis to the hysteria that the 'new Licence Raj' is holding up growth? Is the MoEF 'activist'? Much of this thinking started during the regime of Jairam Ramesh, perceived to be a 'green' minister. Here's reality: during Ramesh's tenure, (June 2009-11), over 95% of projects sailed through. A recent release by the MoEF shows that 1,126 proposals involving diversion of 15, 639 hectares of forest land were cleared in the year following July 2011. Another contentious issue was the 'go-no-go' for mining in forest areas, a concept introduced at the insistence of the coal ministry. Pressure from various quarters ended in the MoEF conceding over 80% 'no-go' forests to mining, including the ecologically fragile Hasdeo-Anand in Chhattisgarh and Chiriya in Saranda - the world's largest, finest Sal forest that still sees the occasional tiger. Another myth is that coal shortage - due to forest concerns - has brought the economy to its knees. The fact is that in all key sectors viz power, coal, steel, cement clearances given exceed targets. For example, and I quote here from a letter written by the minster for environment and forests Jayanthi Natarajan to the prime minister, "In the 11th plan period till August 2011, the MoEF has granted environmental clearances to 181 coal mines with a combined capacity of 583 million tonnes per annum, and forest clearances to 113 mines giving away 26,000 hectares of forest land." These clearances are expected to double our coal capacity. Similarly, the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans target 1,50,000 MW of additional thermal power capacity to be created and set up by 2017. Between 2006-August 2011, clearances were granted for 2,10,000 MW of thermal power capacity. Do your math. That's 60,000 MW or 40% in excess of what has been proposed till 2017. Our capacity in energy and coal lies under or unutilised, even as project proponents continue to seek clearances for new ventures, as this gives them access to valuable resources: land, minerals and water. How else would you explain that while there is a clamour for investment in new projects, the shortfall for investment in electricity transmission (India loses nearly 40% electricity to inefficient transmission) is a staggering Rs. 4,00,000 crore? It isn't that infrastructure and industry are being thwarted; on the contrary, forest and environmental concerns are being systematically diluted. We need to strengthen, not weaken green regulations. Not just to save 'sundry animals', as a bureaucrat recently suggested, but for our ecological, and economic security. Mining belts are hell-holes, with people living there in subhuman conditions. And forests are not a sum of the minerals that lie underneath - a treasury open to loot. They nourish and nurture our rivers and soils, influence the monsoons, sequester carbon and are repositories of biodiversity. India has the challenging task of achieving sustained growth without irretrievably damaging natural resources on which depends our existence - water, clean air, fertile soil. It's a task that concerns us all, and demands our collective support. Prerna Bindra is member, National Board of Wildlife The views expressed by the author are personal

Kerala Tiger reserves to reopen for tourism next week

STAFF REPORTER Officials of the four Tiger Reserves – Parambikulam in Kerala and Anamalai, Muthumalai and Kalakkadu in Tamil Nadu have decided to reopen them for tourism next week after implementing the new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court on using 20 per cent of the area for eco-tourism. In a meeting held at Parambikulam on Thursday, the officials from the two States - the Kerala side led by Wildlife Warden of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, K. Vijayanandan, and Tamil Nadu side by Chief Conservator of Forest Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Rajeev Sreevastava met. These Tiger Reserves were closed for tourists for the last three months after the Supreme Court had banned tourism in the core areas of the Tiger Reserve in July. In the officials meeting it was decided to form an Advisory Committee for every Tiger Reserve as per the new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court. Mr. Vijayanandan said that the Tamil Nadu officials who had inspected the arrangements made for tourists in Parambikulam wanted to replicate them in their three Tiger Reserves especially the most successful Eco-Development Society and Eco-Shops of Parambikulam that helped tribal empowerment and protection of the Reserve. He said that the closing down of tourism in Parambikulam had affected nearly 300 tribal families living in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve area in the District. But during this period the Forest Department used them for various protection activities in Parambikulam. He added that though Parambikulam Tiger Reserve was conducting tourism only in the buffer zone it had to be closed down after the Supreme Court order banning tourism in core area because there is no direct road access from Kerala side to Parambikulam. The State has to use the road passing through the core areas of Annamalai Tiger Reserve to reach Parambikulam. This had created the problem of Parambikulam Tiger Reserve tourism activities. Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has a tribal population of 1200 in 276 families spread over six colonies. Thus the latest Supreme Court order approving the tourism plan in Tiger Reserves have come as a big relief to the tribal population and the tourists from different parts of the country and outside coming to the Tiger Reserve, Mr. Vijayanandan said.