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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tourists back on prowl at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

D.RADHAKRISHNAN The Hindu While lifting the ban, Supreme Court ordered that tourism should not affect conservation efforts. With the situation at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) near here having been reviewed at a meeting of an ad-hoc committee held here a few days ago,it was thrown open to tourists on Tuesday. The re-opening was announced through a one line press statement issued on Tuesday by the Chief Wildlife Warden Bhagwan Singh through the Information and Public Relations Office. The Committee had been constituted on the recommendations of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in accordance with a recent directive of the Apex Court. The ban on tourism in the MTR had been imposed about four months ago by the Apex court. While lifting the ban the court had laid down certain conditions. Among other things the Court had ordered that tourism activities should not affect tiger conservation efforts. The Deputy Director,MTR A.Ameer Haja told The Hindu that on receipt of the court order steps had been taken to comply with the conditions. Stating that elephant rides,van safaris etc have resumed,he said that the forest rest house complexes like the Log House,Sylvan Lodge and Abhyaranyam have been thrown open.He added that those who had been part of the first van safari had sighted a tiger. Meanwhile those in the hospitality and travel sectors have welcomed the re-opening of the MTR.Many of them said that the closure had hit the flow of tourists. People belonging to various sections of the society in Gudalur and surroundings said that they are very relieved and added that they were hoping that the reserve would be re-opened during the Diwali weekend when there was a spurt in the inflow of tourists. However conservationists and environmentalists pointed out that the emphasis in the court order was on conservation of tigers and protection of their habitat.This should not be lost sight of by both the management of the reserve and the committee members. Keywords: Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, ad-hoc committee

Villagers block NH 212 in Wayanad

Villagers of Naikatty and Muthanga in Wayanad district block traffic on the Kozhikode-Kollegal National Highway 212 on Tuesday seeking protection from wild animal attacks. Tension prevailed at Naikatty near Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad district on Tuesday as the public blocked traffic on the Kozhikode-Kollegal National Highway 212 for the fifth consecutive day seeking protection from wild animal attacks. The protestors carried with them the carcass of cattle reportedly killed in tiger attacks the previous night. As many as six incidents of tigers killing domestic animals were reported on Monday night in Naikatty and Muthanga, places adjacent to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. So far, 18 such incidents had been reported in the district in a fortnight. Two incidents were reported from at Kannakkad, near Pazhoor, and Cheloor, near Kattikulam, under the Tholpetty forest range on Tuesday. Some villagers detained O.P. Kaler, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) for three hours at the forest inspection bungalow at Sulthan Bathery demanding the culling of the tiger. The seven-hour blockade was withdrawn after M.I. Shanavas, MP, and District Collector K. Gopalakrishna Bhatt held discussions with villagers in the presence of leaders of various political parties. They told the villagers that the animal would be trapped. Culling would be the last resort, they said. Three squads had been constituted to trap the animal. Each squad comprised eight to fifteen members, including forest veterinary surgeons, representatives of villagers, and armed forest and police personnel. This apart, a joint team of forest and police personnel would intensify patrolling round-the-clock. There would be no load-shedding in the Noolpuzha grama panchayat till the animal was caught, they said. Compensation would be provided to villagers who lost their cattle. Details of electric-fencing would be discussed at a meeting to be chaired by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on November 30, Mr. Bhatt said. Forest Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar had directed the transfer of S. Sreekumar, Warden, WWLS in connection with the release of a trapped tiger in the sanctuary recently. Squads, headed by Mr. Bhatt and Superintendent of Police A.V. George, could not locate the animal in the Naikatty and Kottamkara areas. The combing operation would continue, Mr. Bhatt told The Hindu. Keywords: Forest department, Wayanad wildlife sanctuary