Search This Blog

Monday, November 5, 2012

'Man-animal conflict result of human actions alone'

Aparna Nair, TNN | Nov 5, 2012, 03.03AM IST NAGPUR: Human intervention, which has resulted in destruction of wildlife habitat, is responsible for the man-animal conflict. The need of the hour is to give more importance to sustainable development than economic development to conserve nature, said speakers at the one-day workshop on man-animal conflict organized by Society for Wildlife Conservation, Education and Research (Wild-CER). MS Reddy, field director and chief conservator of forests (CCF), Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) (Maharashtra) said human beings are responsible for all the man-animal conflicts. "It is a result of our past actions. Destruction of wildlife habitat and increasing human population are the main causes behind this problem," he said. Reddy added that time had come when sustainable development was given more importance than economic development. Agreeing with Reddy, Dr Bahar Baviskar of Wild - CER, said, "Now is the time for development with and for nature." The workshop covered various aspects of man - animal conflict including government policies for mitigating conflict, case studies and so on. Speaking on government policies, Sheshrao Patil, CCF, Nagpur, threw light on the conditions and requirements of granting compensation to people in case of crop damage, injury or death. Referring to absence of planned infrastructural projects, Kishor Rithe of Satpuda Foundation said lack of understanding of landscape matrix was a huge cause for the conflict. "Why wait for an incident to recognize a conflict situation? Can't we study and plan our projects in a way which will help in conflict mitigation?" he said. Suggesting some remedies, Rithe said, "Awareness is the key, not only among locals but also policymakers. Consideration for wildlife while planning infrastructural projects and financial allocations for mitigation measures are needed to address the issue." Ajay Pilariseth, divisional forest officer (DFO), PTR recounted a number of experiences to clarify his stand that humans are responsible for the conflict. "It is only when the natural order is disturbed these wild animals are forced to come in contact with humans. Otherwise, they do everything in their capacity to avoid us. I have even seen sloth bears sacrifice jamun - their favourite fruit - in order to avoid humans who had entered the part of the forest where this fruit grows," he said. Pilariseth added that it was time man learnt how to live in and around forests. "In our greed for more, we only think about us and nothing else. We don't even consider about the right of these animals to live," he said.

Plans afoot to tap Valmiki reserve eco-tourism potential

MONDAY, 05 NOVEMBER 2012 00:46 DHEERAJ KUMAR | PATNA As the Dhaulagiri snow peaks peep out from mountains of neighbouring Nepal and mighty Gandak river flows with a majestic silence, the Bihar Government has an ambitious plan under its sleeve to promote eco-tourism in Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve (VTR) in the State’s West Champaran district, through active participation of local population, comprising sizable number of Tharu tribals as well. Though eco-tourism has engaged minds of top policy-makers in the State since a long time, it finally took a concrete shape, when State Deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi launched eco-tourism in Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve amid high pitched optimism last Thursday. The launching ceremony was organised on the lawns of newly spruced up 12-room Valmiki Vihar, which can provide lodging facility to almost 24 tourists. The Government will send 20 local youth to Chitwan Tiger Project in Nepal for their training as guides. Keeping in mind the welfare of local people in its zeal to prop up eco-tourism in the region, the State Government will encourage local inhabitants to purchase open jeeps, so that they may enhance their income by renting out these vehicles to tourists, who are willing to go for jungle safari. People living in the vicinity of VTR would also be persuaded to earn money by providing their portion of houses to tourists by charging some money from them. In addition to Valmiki Vihar, accommodation facility will also be available at eight eco-huts and six forest rest houses. Tourists, visiting Valmikinagar for eco-tourism can also enjoy tenting facility and tree houses at Kotraha, Madahpur, Goberdhan and Manguraha. In addition to elephant safari and bullock cart rides, other attractions like short-trekking, full moon visit with patrolling party, bird watching and peep through watch towers will also be introduced in due course. Madanpur and Manguraha will be the entry points on the western and eastern part respectively, while the main eco-tourism destinations would be Valmikinagar, Madanpur, Ganauli, Manguraha and Goberdhana. Other proposals include an interpretation cum information centre for providing full details about eco-tourism facilities to tourists visiting VTR. An open-air theatre and a conference room cum audio-video hall will be constructed at Valmikinagar, while boating facility and adventure sports in the Gandak river, are also planned. But to top it all, a brand ambassador for VTR is also actively being considered and names of celebrities like Manoj Bajpai are already doing the rounds but a final decision has to be taken on it. Besides tigers, VTR has also a good population of leopards and wild dogs, Sambhars, wild boars, Cheetal and Neelgais. VTR is spread over 901 sq km with core area of 598 sq km and 20 per cent of the core area will be used for the purpose of eco-tourism. The Project Tiger Directorate under Ministry of Environment and Forests, which evaluates tiger reserves in the country, has assessed VTR of “satisfactory” level. Though, officially the number of tigers at VTR has been put at 8 in the last tiger census, the actual number might be much higher if daily reports are to be believed, created on the basis of camera trapping of big cats are considered, which estimate that VTR has around 15-17 tigers. The State Government has also made it clear that the land will not be acquired from villagers and they will not be replaced. On the contrary, those staying for three generations will be given ryoti land rights under Forest Rights Act. The Government will also provide cheap LPG connections to villagers living around the Tiger Project. Additionally, the Government will provide wood up to 25 cubic feet at cheaper rates to those building houses in the region. The Government will also make efforts to improve grass land area and prey base in the VTR to improve population of tigers in VTR. Vacant posts of forest guards will be filled up on a priority basis and they will also be properly armed.

MP to emulate Gujarat model for safety of tigers

Press Trust of India / Bhopal November 04, 2012, 16:05 Tiger state Madhya Pradesh may follow Gujarat's model for safety of the big cats by not recruiting "aged and more qualified" forest guards for its reserves. A proposal in this regard is under consideration of the state forest department. The move comes after recommendations of a three-member committee on several measures to protect tigers, including one to ban gathering of people in forest areas near tiger reserves where the big cats have been seen. "No matter what the minimum qualification is but it has been experienced that getting good marks in the test is no guarantee that the aspirant may be mentally and physically suitable to be appointed as forest guard. The guards need to be fit in such a way that they can roam around the forest and live in its far flung areas. "It will be only possible when the recruitment rules are made on the lines of those formed by Gujarat state to keep suitable person for the job. The conservation of forest is not likely to be done by over aged and over qualified guards," the committee, comprising senior Indian Forest Service officers, said. As per present recruitment rules, a person has to be Class Xth qualified, secure 70 marks in the written exam and about 9 marks in the interview. The report also noted that illegal activities like ration shops and cooking gas distribution centres were taking place in the core areas of tiger reserves. The committee found that none of about 60 forest circles have so far formed "rescue squad" to act in case of emeregency, despite several reminders from the government. The panel has also suggested measures to check 'picnic' activities near forest areas to avoid "man and wild animal conflicts." Taking note of the committee's recommendation, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Dr P K Shukla, has moved a proposal to recruit suitable persons for appointment as forest guards, as is being done in Gujarat. As many as 295 posts, including 222 for forest guards, at various levels are lying vacant in six tigers reserves of Madhya Pradesh. (MORE)