Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Govt to stop all commercial activities in core areas of forests

TNN | Feb 27, 2013, 02.34 AM IST Man dies of swine fluAnother tests +ve for swine fluFive test positive for swine flu37 new swine flu cases in DelhiCity resident among 2 swine flu casualties JAIPUR: The state government on Tuesday announced that all state-run commercial activities in the core areas of reserve forests would be discontinued. The announcement came during the question hour in the assembly when the opposition strongly protested the running of RTDC's Tiger Den and other lodges in the core area of the reserve forest. With an aggressive opposition cornering the state government over the RTDC run commercial hotels in the core area, incharge minister Parsadilal Meena assured the house: ''RTDC run hotels, if any in the core area, will be shut down.'' Prior to this, Meena, who was giving the reply on behalf of Bina Kak, had informed the house that 3281 complaints of commercial activities in the reserved forests were received and that action had been taken in 91 cases. He, however, could not give the details on the number of cases in core areas, buffer zones and eco-sensitive zones. Rathore alleged that commercial activities were on at 500 metres from core area in Ranthambore. "Is it not true that villages were located in the area and are now being considered encroachment and relocated," said Rathore, adding that if new guidelines are followed, 75% of Tonk would be covered as reserved forest. The opposition, during the question hour, accused the state government for being partial towards the urban residents because of the discrepancy in the norms for penalty on use of land without land-use conversion. The matter was raised by BJP's Ajay Singh. ''While in the urban areas the land-use for 1500 sq yards can be transferred at the rate of 200 sq yards; the penalty charged in rural areas in the on-going Prashasan Gaon ke Sang is four times that,'' said Ajay Singh.

59 tigers poached in 2012: Government

Published: Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013, 21:50 IST Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI The country lost 197 tigers in the past three years with 2012 recording the highest number of 88 deaths, including 59 due to poaching, the Rajya Sabha was informed. In a written reply, Environment and Forest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan provided the figures related to tigers poached and deaths of big cats due to natural and other causes since 2010. Last year, 59 cases of tiger poaching were registered by various state governments, while 29 big cats died due to natural and other causes. The highest number of 10 poaching incidents last year were recorded in both Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. With 16 incidents of poaching, 2011 saw a total of 56 tiger deaths. In 2010, 53 such incidents were recorded, including 28 incidents of poaching. Informing the House about the steps taken by her ministry for tiger conservation, Natarajan said, "At present, India has the maximum number of tigers and its source areas among the 13 tiger range countries in the world, owing to its long history of conserving the species through Project Tiger." She said out of 39 tiger reserves in the country, 15 were rated as very good, 12 as good and eight as satisfactory. Four reserves were rated as poor according to the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves in 2011.

Nagarhole loses 4th tiger in less than 2 months

DC | Amit S. Upadhye | 15 min 9 sec ago A tiger that was poisoned to death outside Nagarhole forests on February 17. The culprits are yet to be arrested. —DC Bengaluru: The decomposed body of a male tiger with its claws missing was found inside the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve (NTR) on Monday evening. The tiger may have died a week ago. The body was discovered by a patrolling team who were working on forest protection measures. The carcass was found in the Veeranahosahalli Range of NTR which has the highest concentration of tigers in the reserve. Forest officials say there is no sign of foul play, even though two tigers from Nagarhole were poisoned to death in separate incidents since January 13. They even claim that the missing tiger claws are not the handiwork of poachers but were eaten by wild boar and other animals that fed on the carcass. The wildlife conservationists in the State are seriously concerned and are demanding a thorough probe into the suspicious death of tigers in the last two months. “The tiger carcass was discovered around 4 pm in the forest and the autopsy was conducted before 6 pm. Why there was so much hurry in burning the dead tiger? The foresters could not even take the blood samples, claiming that there was nothing left in the decomposed body. Just because the carcass of the tiger was found in the interior of the forest does not mean that foul play cannot be suspected,” said a conservationist from Mysore district. The officials of the Forest Department, Government of Karnataka, has officially stated that the death of the tiger is a clear case of natural death. “An autopsy was conducted on the deceased tiger in the presence of veterinarians, senior forest officials, environmentalists and members of the Special Tiger Protection Force. The tiger was aged around 10-12 years and might have died in a fight with another tiger. The back of the tiger has scratch marks indicating that the tiger was involved in a territorial fight,” said a top official of Nagarhole Tiger Reserve.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Madhya Pradesh forest minister rules out new action plan to save big cats

ByManjari Mishra, TNN | Feb 26, 2013, 04.48 AM IST Livestock are easy prey for big cats of Nagarahole Tiger ReserveNew plan to protect tigers in KarnatakaElectrocution of tigers seizes Maharashtra government's attentionThirsty tigers needn't worryJayalalithaa's action plan is commendable KATNI: Madhya Pradesh forest minister Sartaj Singh has ruled out any new action plan to save tigers from poachers in Katni-Bandhavgarh region till an official probe was completed. He was replying to a question about the safety of big cats in Katni after a tiger was found electrocuted from a farm land in Kuan village 45 kilometers off Badhavgarh national park on Monday morning. Forest officials are meanwhile trying to shrug off any responsibility by playing the usual jurisdiction game. With three tigers and a leopard killed by poachers during the last three months, Katni is truly living up to its reputation of being the national tiger graveyard. According to eyewitnesses account, villagers raised an alarm after spotting a tiger sprawled in a patch of uncultivated land near Muchmucha forest area in the morning. When the animal did not move despite the commotion, they suspected something fishy and inching closer discovered the animal was dead, claimed Santosh Kumar Tiwari. Tiwari, who is the owner of the field where the body was found denied having anything to do with the incident and blamed it to "the complicity between forest officials and mafia. We had been citing this tiger for more than a month and it was reported to local officials but no one bothered to take any action. This gave the poachers enough time to plan the killing, he said. Tiwari pointed to a GI rusted wire which was carefully laid on the ground to trap the tiger and connected to the high tension 11000 KV wire in the nearby electrical poll. Since wire was hidden behind a tree the mischief could not be detected by anyone, said Tukaram a resident of Barahi, who had thronged the site with villagers. However, chief conservator forest Katni M K Khan denied possibility of tiger poaching. Talking to reporters, Khan said that the trap could have been laid for wild boar or a deer. The officer also tried to escape any responsibility by declaring that the land did not come within the jurisdiction of forest department and was revenue area. Meanwhile experts suspect the hand of an organized gang behind these successive killings. On November 18 a tigress was killed in Bagdara village which is part of Bandhavgarh reserve forest. It was instantly electrocuted along with the prey- a cow - as both came in contact with a live wire which hung low. On December 22, another tiger fell prey to an electric trap laid by poachers in Jugia village. And even then the forest officials insisted that tiger death was accidental as the trap was laid for wild boars. The incident had led to suspension of two beat guards. Surprisingly no senior official has been held accountable for these deaths, Ajay Dubey wild life activist said as he demanded the scalp of the "well connected nexus of big wigs in the department" they have done it in Panna, he said, now with their morale high they are doing it in Bandhavgarh and getting away with it while the government looks the other way.

Man-tiger conflict: NTCA issues new regulations

Ads by Google A tiger that has strayed into human habitation must be guided back to forest, chemically immobilised, trapped but, unless it is established as a man-eater, not killed, states a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) framed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority to deal with man-tiger conflict. The SOP, circulated among chief wildlife wardens last month, states that "under no circumstances must a tiger be eliminated by invoking the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, if it is not habituated for causing human death". And declaring it a man-eater must also be a well-deliberated exercise that differentiates a chance man-killer from a habituated human stalker that feeds on the body and avoids its natural prey, says the SOP. Even then, elimination must be the last resort; attempts should be made to capture the man-eater and send it to the nearest recognised zoo. If there is no other option, the SOP says, the tiger should be killed after the approval of the Chief Wildlife Warden; a proper fire arm must be used by an expert and no awards or rewards should be announced for "destruction of man-eaters". If a healthy tiger or encumbered tigress has occupied a sugarcane field or similar habitat, a not-so- uncommon occurrence, attempts must be made to guide it to a nearby forested area. If that doesn't work, it must be immobilised, captured, radio-collared and released in a low-density area of a nearby tiger reserve or protected area with adequate prey base. In case the captured tiger is injured or incapacitated, the SOP says, it should be sent to a recognised zoo.

Deer carcass, traps found in Sunderbans

TNN | Feb 26, 2013, 01.52 AM IST Train to Sikkim poses jumbo threatSpotted pride under attackTrack survey after elephant deaths KOLKATA: In a late-night raid on Saturday, forest department officials have recovered 45 traps, made of thick ropes and meant to poach deer, from the forests of Jhila 4 in the Sunderbans. Carcass of a deer was also recovered from the spot, where the traps were laid. Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR) field director Soumitra Dasgupta said such raids are on since last couple of months. "We will continue the raids in days ahead. The traps were damaged. Though the body of a deer was found from the spot, it's not yet confirmed whether the herbivore had died after falling into one of those traps," said Dasgupta. He said forest teams are raiding the nearby villages to nab the culprits. This is the third time in last three weeks that the department has managed to damage such traps which are used in the forests to poach deer. Earlier this month, three deer poachers were held from the Lothian Wildlife Sanctuary and ten traps were damaged at the spot. Last week, a villager from Amtali under the Basirhat range was caught red-handed while feasting on deer meat at his home. The foresters also recovered more than a kg of deer meat from his residence. State wildlife advisory board member Joydip Kundu said that regular raids in the forest to track deer poachers is a good sign for long-term conservation in the mangroves. Echoing his view, another state wildlife board member Biswajit Roy Chowdhury said frequent raids are being conducted in the forests after a long time. tnn"This practice will also bring in transparency in the department's functioning," he added. Deer poaching is not a new phenomenon in the Sunderbans. After the tiger poaching case at Jhila in 2008, the last official report of big cat poaching in the mangroves, foresters had suspected that some deer poachers had shot the tiger in self defence.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trapping camera destroyed in Palamu Tiger Reserve

TNN | Feb 25, 2013, 02.20 AM IST Palamu Tiger Reserve to get eco-sensitive shieldFemale elephant found deadProject Elephant member sends a missive to guvVijay's hunting for an elephantYaanamalai's elephant head shaped rock DALTONGANJ: A trapping camera installed in Palamu Tiger Reserve was destroyed late on Saturday night with foresters suspecting that the LCD monitor of the camera was damaged by an elephant which might have been irked by its flush light. PTR field director Syed Ehtesham Hussain Kazmi confirmed the damage but he was doubtful if it was destroyed by the elephant. "Had the elephant damaged the trapping camera for its annoying flush light, its image ought to have been there even notionally or so," he said. Asked if the destruction of the camera could be by human being, the director said he did not rule out the possibility as people who usually go inside the forest to collect fuel wood also damage the trapping cameras. However, he said during the past more than one year, half a dozen trapping cameras were damaged or destroyed and in most of the cases the elephants did the damage. The PTR has launched a public campaign saying that the trapping camera is not the one to shoot anyone's photograph either for Aadhaar card or for Red card or for MGNREGA job card. It is only for moving wild life and if any person comes in the range, he, too, will be captured by the camera. "This is to desist and dissuade those who have any motive to steal the camera for any commercial purpose," Kazmi said. The trapping camera has captured a lone wolf in the Garu range suggesting the existence of the animal in the range apart from Mahuadarn where there is a wolf sanctuary. But for lack of awareness, the tourists hardly visit the place. Asked that wolves generally move in pack but how is it that only one wolf is in camera he said ' It is true wolf moves in a pack but this one appeared before the camera and it was captured by lens'. He also told that on many occasions wolf is taken for jackal but here the trapped image is of the wolf for all surety.

Forest officer did not allow Bhiwapur tiger to eat cattle it killed

TNN | Feb 25, 2013, 01.37 AM IST Tiger cub dead in Kaziranga, rhino battles for life at OrangRanthambore tigress relocated to SariskaPoaching menace: Government considering shoot-at-sight at Kaziranga N...Thirsty tigers needn't worryVillages involved in poaching will have to live in dark NAGPUR: Although straying of an adult tiger, which caused scare in Manora and Bhiwapur villages on Saturday, ended on a happy note, problem escalated as the tiger was not allowed to consume cattle it killed in the past 10 days. Roheet Karoo, district honorary wildlife warden, said in the past seven days the full-grown male tiger made at least 10 cattle kills in Bhiwapur II round under the South Umred range. "However, on the insistence of range forest officer (RFO) R M Agrawal, all the cattle kills were buried depriving tiger of food. This aggravated the problem," feels Karoo. Agrawal did not respond to the calls made to him. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines state that a cattle kill should be monitored by the staff. Last month, a tigress had started attacking humans after it was not allowed to consume cattle it killed near Navegaon National Park. The tigress killed five persons and was finally ordered to be shot under political pressure. On Saturday, around 9.30am, panic gripped Bhiwapur and Manora villages after farmers sighted a tiger in the farm owned by Ishwar Janbandhu. The tiger had killed a calf owned by Janbandhu on Friday night. There was high drama on Saturday when forest officials, Nitin Desai, Central India director of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), Karoo and others tried to drive the tiger towards forest by bursting crackers and drum beating. "The tiger has retreated towards the Tass forest on Saturday night from where it was suspected to have come. The tiger crossed the tar road to move towards Tass," Desai said. Karoo said due to heavy shower on Saturday night there were trail of pugmarks from where the tiger is suspected to have crossed the road around 9.30pm. Earlier, two males - Bajrang and Chaitram - were identified in Umred-Karhandla wildlife sanctuary. "The tiger sighted on Saturday was not among them. It seems to be a new male, may be trying to create its own territory, Karoo said.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tiger authority forms guidelines to deal with man-animal conflicts

StoryComments LUCKNOW: Given the frequent incidents of wild animals straying into human habitations, and the state forest department's failure to control the damage done to humans or to the stray animal, in most of the incidents, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has developed a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with emergency arising due to straying of tigers in human-dominated areas. The authority has sent the guidelines to the chief wildlife wardens and PCCFs of tiger range states for implementation. The purpose of the SOP is to ensure that straying tigers are handled in the most appropriate manner to avoid casualty or injury to human beings, tiger, cattle and property. One of the major suggestions made to the states is that an "authorised spokesperson of the forest department should periodically update the media (if required) to prevent dissemination of distorted information relating to the operation/incidents." NTCA has said that under no circumstances should a tiger be eliminated by invoking the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, 'if it is not habituated for causing human death.' In case of a healthy tiger/encumbered tigress occupying a sugar cane field or similar habitat, attempt should be made first to attract it to nearby forest area, while avoiding disturbance. If such operations fail, the animal should be captured through immobilization for release in low density area of a nearby tiger reserve/protected area after radio collaring, said NTCA. SOP calls for establishing the identity of the tiger and to find out the source area of the animal. In case, the area has a history of such incidents, detailed research has to be carried out in order to assess the reasons for frequent tiger emergencies in the area. Camera traps should be set near the site, where kill took place to confirm and establish the identity of the animal. The kill should also be guarded, so that stray tiger comes back to eat it and it should also be safeguarded against poisoning. The state forest departments will have to proactively involve DM and SSP/SP of the area to maintain law and order in the area, besides avoiding crowding by local people and to also acquaint them with human-tiger conflict issues and guidelines of the NTCA to deal with the situation. The forest department should seek help from district level officials to alert villages in the vicinity of the area, where tiger is roaming. If successive trapping efforts fail, chemical immobilization of the wild carnivore should be done by an expert team having a veterinarian. In case, the tranquilised tiger is found to be healthy or young, without any incapacitation (loss of canine, injury, broken paw), it may be released after radio collaring in a suitable habitat with adequate prey base, away from the territory of a resident male tiger (if any) or human settlements, and NTCA should be intimated of the same.

Aging foresters to be withdrawn from tiger force

ByVijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Feb 23, 2013, 03.00 AM IST Tadoba Special Tiger Protection Force to get 33 jawans, INSAS riflesOutsourcing should reduce expenses: Finance DepartmentIssues will be addressed : CM Prithviraj ChavanComplete infrastructure projects by December: Prithviraj ChavanSoon, law to deter attacks on scribes: Prithviraj Chavan NAGPUR: After finance department raising objections over staff structure of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has slightly modified the composition of the force paving way for release of funds. Two STPF platoons have been constituted in Maharashtra in Pench and Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserves. As per the new guidelines issued last month by the NTCA, a statutory body monitoring the tiger reserves, posts of foresters will have to be completely withdrawn from STPF and will be replaced with local van majoors or forest watchers. Earlier, the each STPF platoon consisted of 112 personnel including 90 forest guards, 18 foresters and 3 RFOs, to be headed by an assistant conservator of forests (ACF). However, now there will be no foresters, but 81 special tiger guards (forest guards) and 27 local forest watchers/van majoors. Finance department had raised objections that the condition of recruited staff being below 40 years of age was not being followed in case of foresters. "As there is ban on direct recruitment of foresters in state, it was difficult to get foresters below 40. We had appointed 18 foresters in STPF. Baring four who fulfil the age condition, others will be brought back to their parent cadre phase-wise," said Virendra Tiwari, chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director, TATR. "The NTCA decided to do away with foresters after it was convinced that young forest guards can be effective. In Pench, we could control illegal fishing with the help of STPF," said MS Reddy, CCF & field director of Pench. Although Maharashtra is the second state after Karnataka to constitute STPF, it has not received any funds despite the state signing tripartite agreement with NTCA. The Centre has to provide 100% support for raising, arming and deploying STPF for protection of tigers in both the reserves. Tiwari said the STPF in Pench and Tadoba needed Rs 1.92 crore towards salaries. Considering the full strength of 224 personnel, the two platoons will need Rs 4.25 crore annually for salary alone. "We have intimated our funds requirement to the NTCA and expect to get them before March. We have also forwarded the recruitment notification sought by the authority last week. Now ball is in the NTCA court," Tiwari said. "Anticipating that the NTCA would release money, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and forest secretary Praveen Pardeshi intervened and released Rs 1.50 crore towards salaries of the personnel. Money is also needed to procure weapons, vehicles, equipment and infrastructure for STPF. If funds are not received, STPF will have to be scrapped," said an official. State principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) SWH Naqvi said the issues had been resolved and NTCA had agreed to release the money.

Land boost to tiger rescue centre at Sunderbans

TNN | Feb 23, 2013, 02.59 AM IST Mamata Banerjee meets ailing Mahasweta DeviMamata Banerjee eyes tourism along HooghlyMamata Banerjee opposes trade union bandhMamata Banerjee buys time on Gorkhaland crisisMamata Banerjee to shift key departments out of Writers' KOLKATA: The state on Friday said the full-fledged work on the 100-acre plot at Sunderbans' Jharkhali for a tiger rescue centre would start soon as the government has been able to draw some compensation package for the refugees, who are still occupying the plot. make it unnecessary to send them for treatment to the state's lone tiger rescue centre at Khairbari in Jaldapara. The land for the rescue centre is under the control of the refugee relief and rehabilitation department. approved a 100-acre plot for setting up a tiger conservation and rescue centre at Jharkhali in the Sunderbans. An ecotourism park on a 99-acre plot, to be developed on the same island in the mangroves, has also got a green signal of the state cabinet. in Jharkhali will be set up on 99 acre plot. It is currently seeking clearance from the Central Zoo Authority of India for the second tiger rescue centre at Jharkhali in the Sunderbans and for that the state is seeking clearance of Central Zoos Authority. The centre will treat injured tigers rescued from the Sunderbans and thus bring an end to the practice of sending tigers to Alipore zoo or Khairbari near Jaldapara for treatment. The state also has plans to provide the refugees an alternate dwelling place.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

World’s largest camera trap study gets its millionth photo

K. VENKATESHWARLU TEAM scientists take picture of the elusive jaguar in the Manu National Park, Peru The international Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network’s stunning scrap book of wild animals in their natural habitat, widely regarded as a sort of facebook for wildlife, has just crossed a milestone. TEAM scientists have taken the one millionth camera trap photo and the honour has gone to the elusive jaguar in the Manu National Park, Peru, one of the 16 study sites in 14 countries across Asia, Africa and Americas. Wildlife conservationists the world over are rejoicing at the achievement as this relatively new body of wildlife research — a repository of camera trap images — would reveal more about the health of the Earth’s dwindling tropical forests. The 16 sites include Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (Indonesia), Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda), Caxiuanã National Forest (Brazil) and Pasoh Forest Reserve (Malaysia). The world’s largest camera trap study “provides real-time information on how unseen animal populations are being affected by changes in climate, habitat and land use; changes that often affect the flow of goods and life-sustaining services to people as well as the health of tropical forests,” says a note for the media from TEAM Network based in Arlington, USA. The wildlife photo treasure, a result of five-year global partnership between Conservation International, Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Wildlife Conservation Society and over 80 local partnerships, is serving as an early warning system for nature, monitoring changes in tropical ecosystems and reporting shifts in biomass, rainfall and biodiversity density. In India, in a sheer coincidence, camera trap photos of the equally elusive and charismatic mammal, the red panda, have just been obtained by WWF-India staff from the remote heights of Arunachal Pradesh. Two years ago, similar images of an adult female tiger and cubs at the site of a cattle-kill in Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve in Andhra Pradesh revived hopes of recovery of the big cat population. “The one-millionth image is an amazing representation of our camera trap work and it symbolises the success we have had with this programme in collecting new data,” said Dr. Jorge Ahumada, TEAM’s Technical Director in the note. This data, replicated over time and space, is crucial to understand the effects of global and regional threats on forest mammals and to anticipate extinctions before it is too late. Working through local partner institutions in various countries, TEAM site managers and technicians set up camera traps during the dry season. Cameras are placed in a grid throughout the forest every two square kilometres and left in the forest for thirty days. Each site collects between 10,000 and 30,000 photographs a year. Keywords: TEAM scientists, world's largest camera, Manu National Park, millionth camera photo, wildlife photography

3 smugglers held, 5 tiger skins recovered

TNN | Feb 21, 2013, 03.29 AM IST Akali leader arrested for killing police officialBHU a strong bond between Nepal, India: Nepal PresidentStable Nepal in our interest: KhurshidHundreds protest violence against women in NepalNepal government steps up vigil along border LUCKNOW: The network of wildlife poachers seems to have penetrated into the city and is trying to reach the international market via Nepal. The special operations group and district police caught a murder accused and two more smugglers in possession of five tiger hides from Chinhat area on Wednesday. The police also recovered a porcupine from the smugglers. The trio had got hold of the hides from a Maharashtra-based poacher and was in the middle of finding a prospective buyer, when the police intercepted them. The three smugglers have been identified as Vishal alias Sahil-the murder accused and Rajmal and Rajan, both residents of Barabanki. A resident of Dewa Road, Vishal had been accused of a murder that took place at Matiyari in 2007. "The trio was in possession of five tiger hides and porcupine (an endangered species), when they were held by the police. We are trying to find out who was interested in dealing with the trio and suspect that the hides were to be smuggled to international market via Nepal," said J Ravinder Goud, senior superintendent of police, Lucknow. According the police, the trio had bought the tiger hides from a man identified as Vijay. The trio had been in the business of wildlife smuggling and trafficking for past several years and had developed contacts across several states in the country. From preliminary investigations, it was found that the recovered hides have been smuggled from Maharashtra's Aurangabad district to the city. "The cost price of a single hide is Rs 50,000, while the selling price ranges between Rs 4 and 5 lakh," told Brijlal Verma, the sub-inspector of the team that nabbed the trio from a shanty located off Faizabad Road. The police have pressed various charges under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 against the trio and have sent them to jail. "We had information of some groups, which were active in smuggling of endangered animals, skins, hides, bones, body parts etc in the city. Following continuous surveillance and help of informers, a notorious group had been held," said a police official.

Camera traps to locate tiger in Athagarh

ByBinita Jaiswal, TNN | Feb 21, 2013, 01.09 AM IST CUTTACK: Forest officials have decided to install camera traps to locate a tiger, whose pugmarks were found in Budhabudhi ghati under Narsinghpur forest range in Athagarh division. The tiger was reportedly spotted by some villagers at Narsinghpur on Sunday and pugmarks were also found in the area following which the forest officials had launched a search operation to locate the feline. Since the last three days, forest officials have been patrolling the area and keeping a close vigil but the wild animal has not been sighted yet. "The villagers informed us about having sighted the tiger and we have also seen the pugmarks but the feline is yet to be located. The camera traps will definitely help us to trail the tiger," divisional forest officer of Athagarh division Arun Mishra said. The cameras will be installed near the Budhabudhi ghati and the nearby areas in the next two days, he added. The camera traps, equipped with an electronic switch and a camera, record movement of tigers or other animals that walk in front of the gadget. Forest officials said the tiger may have strayed into the forest from the adjoining Satkosia tiger reserve.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve to start community-based ecotourism

ByMazhar Ali, TNN | Feb 20, 2013, 05.45 AM IST Peoples institutions keeping India on the move: Dr Amrita PatelYahoo, NBC Sports Group to club sports contentState to have sports policySports fiesta concludes in MaladSports buffs have a ball CHANDRAPUR: More perks are in the offing for those who are planning for safari in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) this summer. After successfully opening two new tourist circuits in buffer area, the park management is now focused on launching community based ecotourism from Jhari and Jaiti Tukum villages of buffer. These two villages will offer the facility of accommodation and food along with safari in core and buffer area of TATR from this tourist (summer) season. While entire tour to Tadoba (including safari, lodging and boarding) is quite costly if tourists opt for private tourist resorts, this community based ecotourism will offer all the facilities at very economical cost. Tourists opting for this ecotourism package will get wild card entry into TATR and will face no disappointment for failure in securing entry tickets or advance booking for safari. Tadoba management will provide reservation in entry for certain number of vehicles operated by the villagers through ecotourism scheme. "Each of the villages will offer four rooms, including two VIP suites, for accommodation at cost effective rates. Variety of delicacies, with advantage of regional and local cuisines, also at economical rates will available in the boarding facility. Canter-buses specifically meant for safari with reserved entry will be available for tourists opting for ecotourism package," said deputy director (buffer), TATR, P Kalyankumar. He claimed that tourists preferring only safari into TATR can also take a seat in bus service offered by the EDCs at cost effective rates. Community ecotourism of Jhari will operate from Jhari gate, while that of Jaiti Tukum will operate from Kolara gate of the tiger reserve. Kalyankumar held that entire ecotourism operation will be handled by eco-development committees (EDC) of respective villages. "Entire earning through the scheme will go to respective EDCs and will be in turn utilized for development of the village. The move will also provide employment to the local people. This approach will boost the partnership between forest department and the EDC in protecting forest and wildlife," he said. He claimed that as Jhari village already has rooms that could be used for lodging facility; the ecotourism service from this village is likely to start in first week of March. Similar set-up in Jaiti Tukum will be ready and operational from April. "The rooms available in Jhari are being renovated for tourist accommodation. Bus (Canter) for the safari will be purchased by pooling in eco-development funds of four neighbouring villages. Villagers will also be trained in cookery and hospitality through capacity building workshops," he said. Sports cycles for tourists More adventures are on cards for the tourists in buffer area of TATR. Park management has plans to offer sports cycles on hire to the tourists staying at ecotourism facility at Jhari and Jaiti Tukum. They can amble around in the village and nearby places at their leisure time. Authorities also have plans to offer hiking adventure on game trail in buffer jungle, again through local EDCs in coming days. Similarly they are also contemplating to offer safari in the buffer forest on decorated bullock carts for tourists.

Russian team in Pench, Kanha to learn tiger conservation

ByVijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Feb 20, 2013, 12.57 PM IST National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Russia have already formed a subgroup on tiger and leopard conservation and signed a pact. The visit is part of the Tiger Watch Project of the Global Tiger Forum (GTF). RELATED Syria peace envoy in Moscow as Russia pressures AssadAbout 25 arrested in Moscow New Year's Eve unsanctioned protestStranded gibbon family in Arunachal translocatedWhite tigers not to be shifted to Madhua forest: HCTiger cub dead in Kaziranga, rhino battles for life at Orang NAGPUR: To learn experience on good practices in tiger conservation, a two-member team from Russia is visiting Pench and Kanha tiger reserves in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. The team reached city on Tuesday and left for Pench in the afternoon. The team consists of Sergei Marchenko from Zov Tigra National Park and Evgenii Terentev from Zimliya Leopard, both in Primorsky Krai. The two senior officials will be accompanied by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) manager Prafulla Bhamburkar. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Russia have already formed a subgroup on tiger and leopard conservation and signed a pact. The visit is part of the Tiger Watch Project of the Global Tiger Forum (GTF). A meeting held on September 17-18, 2012 in Moscow had decided on capacity building of field officers and specialists, including exchange officers, to share experience on good practices in tiger conservation. It was agreed that both sides may allow cooperation between reputed institutes on both sides. Both sides agreed for developing an inter-institutional cooperation in areas such as scientific tiger monitoring, anti-poaching, electronic surveillance, assessment of tigers and their habitat at landscape level, tiger/leopard reintroduction, radio collaring and related studies. Bhamburkar said WTI is one of the sponsors along with International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). He said the tour is part of the exchange programme of GTF, which plays a key role in terms of organizing training programmes, exchanging information and promoting cooperation between tiger range countries for evolving a harmonized approach to ensure the future of wildcats in the world. The officials will study site-specific management plans and programmes dealing with protection, poaching problem and corridors. The team will also visit villages to see eco-development models. They will learn patrolling methods and interact with field directors. Similar problems: * Russia is facing similar challenges as India on conservation front. Today, fewer than 500 Siberian tigers - the largest of the tiger subspecies - survive * The dramatically lower number is reported because of the lack of genetic diversity among Siberian tigers * Siberian tigers are relatively easy to breed in captivity. There are more Siberian tigers in zoos around the world than in the wild * The body parts of Siberian tigers - particularly their fur and bones - are highly valued. Their bones are especially valued in China for medicinal purpose * Most of the Siberian tigers remaining in the wild today live in the Far East of Russia. A few Siberian tigers also live in North Korea and China, bordering Russia

Villagers take up patrolling along Pench borders

ByVijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Feb 20, 2013, 05.48 AM IST CM's Tadoba visit raises hopes, lifts staff moraleWild buffaloes @ Kolamarka, GadchiroliInternational course to build young conservation educatorsMinister's cold shoulder to forest fire fightersMonkey feeders in Melghat tiger reserve to face action NAGPUR: Pench tiger reserve is effectively exploiting the link between local communities and wildlife conservation by roping in locals living on the fringes of the park to patrol the borders. "Though forest staff patrol the reserve, areas in the buffer too need effective patrolling. Locals can play an important role in wildlife and forest protection here. It's been a month since the initiative has been launched," said MS Reddy, field director and chief conservator of forests (CCF), Pench. Reddy said divisional forest officer (DFO) Ajay Pillariseth, all five RFOs of Pench, conservation officer of Satpuda Foundation at Pench Anoop Awasthi, along with village eco-development committee (VEDC) members of four villages were instrumental in the planning process. The idea of community patrolling was initiated by Satpuda Foundation. During his recent visit, state principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi was highly impressed by the way the foundation got community support in wildlife protection. Official sources said Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation and member of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), designed the guidelines on patrolling around Pench villages. "Money available under secret fund to each deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) can be used for community patrolling and intelligence gathering," said Pardeshi. Anoop Awasthi said, "Patrolling around park boundary and water holes is producing encouraging results. Field staff, VEDC members from Kolitmara, Ghatpendri, Narhar and Sillari villages, and volunteers from Satpuda Foundation are engaged in the task." "We will involve other VEDCs too. We also plan to reward good VEDCs and volunteers with a token amount. A fund of Rs 50,000 has been kept for this purpose from Pench Tiger Foundation," said Reddy. On January 17, a tiger was found poached in Harnakund nullah in the buffer of Pench in Deolapar range. In the absence of regular patrolling, the putrefied carcass lay at the spot for nearly a month.

New plan to protect tigers in Karnataka

ByMB Maramkal, TNN | Feb 19, 2013, 07.20 PM IST Tadoba Special Tiger Protection Force to get 33 jawans, INSAS riflesNew plan to protect tigers in KarnatakaMan-eating tigress shot deadElectrocution of tiger: Three officers suspended MYSORE: Increasing incidents of tiger deaths due to poisoning has made the officials of the tiger project to work out an action plan to end this menace of targeting big cats by mischievous elements. Death of two of the three tigers due to poisoning has left worried the officials. Of the three tigers which died in the recent past including one on Sunday have been found to be poisoned by the villagers . What has made the issue more complicated is this is the new modus operandi being adopted by tiger mafia to employ the villagers and persuade them to poison the tigers which invade their villages to prey on their livestock. Tiger's trait of it's return to eat the left over of the prey has made it easy for villagers allegedly employed by poachers to poison the kill before the tiger visits it next day. Sunday's incident typically fitted this format as officials have found an empty packet of a pesticide and two crows dead near the carcass of the cow which was killed by the tiger . Even tiger was found dead hardly 100 mts from the spot where the half eaten cow carcass was lying . Now officials of the tiger project have decided to take head on the mischievous elements through an action plan which has a positive approach to the issue. As per the plan, project tiger officials with the help of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) members will create a data base of all the cattle heads in the villages located inside and on the periphery of the tiger sanctuaries and territorial forests. This data base even have pictures of cattle population and their owners and cowboys who graze them. Project tiger officials are even planning to announce a compensation package for farmers and the cattle owners whose animals are preyed on by tigers . In addition, number of members of STPF will be increased and they will part of stepped up vigil package on this score. Disclosing the implementation of this ne security project in next couple of days, project tiger direct B J Hosmath said this plan will automatically eliminate mischievous elements which will act as stooge in the hands of poachers gangs. First the vigil and data base help officials to identify the cattle owner instantaneously and second the compensation package will help the villagers to avoid mischievous elements. " We want to tackle the problem through positive approach instead of curbing and searching for poachers" Hosmath felt , adding that this is worked out by project tiger officials itself and confident of achieving results.

GoM members object to MoEF report on 'inviolate' areas

The environment ministry's report on identifying 'inviolate' forest areas has met with strong objections from most of the members of the Union agriculture minister-headed inter-ministerial panel saying that it would restrict many more areas for coal mining. The environment ministry's report on identifying 'inviolate' forest areas has met with strong objections from most of the members of the Union agriculture minister-headed inter-ministerial panel saying that it would restrict many more areas for coal mining. "Most of the members of the group of ministers (GoM), headed by Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, objected to the environment ministry's report on "inviolate" forest areas stating it if adopted would restrict more areas," a source privy to the development told PTI. The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had in January put out the report on parameters for identifying 'inviolate' forest areas. During the GoM meeting on Monday, the Planning Commission raised objections to the report and asked the rationale behind scores given by the committee to different forest types on a scale of 1 to 100, based on comparative ecological significance, extent and range and uniqueness. "Members present at the meeting were not convinced with the report as it was done unilaterally by an environment ministry panel, without participation of all stakeholders," the source said. Commenting on the report, the coal ministry had earlier said that it required further consultations with all the stakeholders, including states, central ministries and producing companies. A complete ban on mining activities in areas of national parks, tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries could be on the anvil if the government agrees to the recommendations of a high-level environment ministry panel. The panel, chaired by then environment ministry secretary T Chatterjee, has recommended that thick forests in such areas should be classified as "inviolate". "Mining blocks shall be considered inviolate if majority of the grids falling within a block have been labelled as inviolate," according to the Report of the Committee to Formulate Objective Parameters for Identification of Inviolate Forest Areas. The forest grids have to be determined based on their biological richness, thickness, landscape integrity and hydrological and wildlife values, said the report placed in public domain by the ministry. Although the panel submitted the report in July 2012, the ministry chose to make it public only now amid debate on the issue of diversion of forest areas for mining and infrastructure projects. According to the ministry, all the grids falling in protected areas (national parks and wildlife sanctuaries) located in within 1-km distance from boundary of protected areas and compact patches (of minimum 1 sqkm) of very dense forests should be automatically labelled 'inviolate'. The panel was constituted after then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected the 'go, no-go' policy of the environment ministry which allowed certain forest areas to be mined.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Nitish Kumar visits Valmiki Tiger reserve

TNN | Feb 18, 2013, 04.57 AM IST Nitish Kumar insists on special state statusNDA's PM candidate should be from BJP: Nitish KumarSpecial status will boostnation's growth: Nitish KumarBJP leader to be NDA's PM candidate: Nitish KumarNitish Kumar shuns comment on Gujarat election result BAGAHA: Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday morning visited the Valmiki Nagar Tiger Project and enjoyed the scenic beauty of the forest. He also visited the Done area, Naurangi forest area and the Eco hut and asked environment and forest department secretary Deepak Kumar Singh for further beautification of the place and create bamboo cottages. The CM met the Tharu tribals and listened to their problems. He directed the DM and other officials to look into their issues and address them while stressing on implementation of the education and health schemes in Tharu settlements. He also asked the tribals to send their children to school and make them part of the national mainstream . Director Valmiki Tiger Reserve-cum-conservator of forests Satish Kumar Tiwary underlined the importance of the tiger reserve located on Indo-Nepal border and various hurdle in implementation of the project. Meanwhile, president of Tharu Welfare Federation, unit Gobarahiya Done, Prameshwar Kazi, secretary Sital Kazi, mukhiya of Banakatawa-Karamahiya Done panchayat Ramkirishan Kazi and mukhiya Naurangia Done panchayat Richa Devi met the CM and reminded him of the assurance given by him to Done villagers earlier and handed over seven points demand including appointment of teachers in all government schools, referral hospital at Serawa Done where land had been acquired for the purpose. The CM assured them that he will come again in April and look after their demands which were still not implemented. The CM was accompanied by RCP Singh, MP, principal secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, forest conservator Satish Kumar Tiwari and other officials.

Proposed coal mining in tiger corridors gets experts' thumb-down

ByP Naveen, TNN | Feb 17, 2013, 01.56 PM IST Madhya Pradesh bags Krishi Karman AwardDulux unveils Super Satin in Madhya PradeshMadhya Pradesh to launch Rozgar YojnaCold wave grips Madhya Pradesh, Satna coldest16 IPS officers transferred in Madhya Pradesh BHOPAL: Satpura-Maikal landscape of central India-- largest natural habitat of tigers in the world - will no longer remain one big entity, if coal mining is allowed in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara district. Ironically, state forest minister Sartaj Singh finds him in a fix with experts on both sides- those in favour of coal mining or protecting corridor for the sake of striped big cat population-divided on the issue. Proposed coal mines, widening of NH-7 and railway line that cuts across the tiger reserves would impede gene flow and impact the future of species, reveals a recent research conducted by two scientists from the state, associated with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), Washington. "Big cat populations will be divided into groups if their habitat is fragmented. It can lead to inbreeding and a genetic bottleneck, which will affect their long-term survival," says Dr Sandeep Sharma, visiting scholar of SCBI and lead author of the tiger study published in the journal 'Ecology and Evolution'. SCBI researchers found the landscape is still genetically connected and shows that tigers have been moving around. It was found that the tiger meta-population in this landscape has high genetic variation and very low genetic subdivision. Faecal samples were used to analyse the genetics of tiger and leopard populations in four reserves in central India: Satpura, Melghat, Pench and Kanha. Kanha and Pench reserves and Satpura and Melghat reserves are connected via forest corridors that tigers, leopards, humans and cattle share. It was found that both tiger and leopard population in the reserve maintained a high level of genetic diversity. Neither tigers nor leopards were genetically distinct with leopards being one exception, which scientists hope to explain with additional research. Dr Trishna Dutta, SCBI visiting student and lead author of the leopard study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, says, "Conserving a whole landscape, rather than piecemeal protected areas, would ensure a better chance for long-term persistence of these and other species." The scientists investigated spatial genetic structure of the tiger meta-population in the Satpura-Maikal landscape using the genetic data from 273 individual tigers and 217 leopards. In addition to Sharma and Dutta, other authors of the paper are Dr Jesus Maldonado, a research geneticist at SCBI's Centre for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, Dr John Seidensticker, head of SCBI Conservation Ecology Centre and H S Panwar, former director, Project Tiger and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. MoEF additional director general of forest (ADG) A K Shrivastava and assistant inspector general (AIG) H C Chaudhary visited Chhindwara last week to study the impact of proposed mines on the landscape. They would submit their report to the fact assessment committee (FAC), said sources. principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) P K Shukla and other officers refused to comment on the status of mines. The biggest threat to forests in the central Indian landscape, the largest habitat for tigers and home to protected tribal communities is coal mining. The PMO office is directly responsible for attempting to dilute laws to hasten habitat destruction, and ignore legally established rights of communities. QUOTES "The issue came to my notice. I think both coal mines and corridors are equally important, coal for power and corridors for tiger. I won't be able to comment more on it now" Sartaj Singh, forest minister, said. "I have yet to come across recommendations made by our department. However, it's for the Centre to decide. We are taking all initiatives to protect the corridors" P K Shukla, chief wildlife warden and principal chief conservator of India (PCCF), MP. "SCBI is creating new working models to retain wild tigers in the face of massive social and economic change in Asia, which is among the most difficult challenges,"Dr John Seidensticker, head of SCBI Conservation Ecology Centre, Washington. "The PMO office has much to answer for. They claim environmental roadblocks are holding up coal production. After the coal scam, it is clear that it is a blatant lie,"Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace campaigner.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Did forest officials’ folly lead to Wayanad tiger attack?

By Amit Bhattacharya, TNN | Feb 8, 2013, 03.03 AM IST NEW DELHI: A tigress captured on Sunday amid high drama in Wayanad district of Kerala, after it had injured five persons, has been found to be the same animal that was trapped by forest officials outside Karnataka's Nagarahole National Park last November and released without being radio-collared that very day in the adjoining Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The tigress was identified by the Bangalore-based Centre for Wildlife Studies, which matched pictures of the animal taken during the two captures using a pattern-matching software. From its database of camera-trap images, CWS also identified the animal as NHT-289 — an original resident of Nagarahole forests. The incident again highlights the dangers of releasing a captured big cat back in the wild without scientifically examining its condition and radio-collaring it to ensure that the animal is quickly captured if it starts lifting cattle or attacking humans. Quite often, forest officials trap a tiger or leopard under political pressure after incidents of cattle-lifting in an area, and release it some distance away, said K Ullas Karanth, director of CWS. "It's like transferring a problem to someone else's backyard. In the past, two captured leopards returned to the wild have gone on to kill people," Karanth said. Last week, the National Tiger Conservation Authority released a standard operating procedure for state forest officials in dealing with tigers that stray into human settlements. It too says a tranquilized tiger should be radio collared before being released in the wild. According to media reports, Karnataka forest officials used a box trap to capture the tigress — now identified as NHT-289 —from Nalkeri village outside the western boundary of Nagarahole NP on November 23. This was after villagers protested against two instances of cattle killing in the area. Forest department vets reportedly estimated the animal's age at three-four years. It was released the same evening at Hidgalpanchi in Bandipur. As CWS's analysis later showed, the tiger was at least seven years old and was first photographed in 2007. CWS suspects that a tiger that was mobbed in Kattayad village near Sulthan Batheri town in Kerala's Wayanad district, and thereafter seriously mauled a person, was NHT-289. This location is 19km from the site where NHT-289 was released. According to media reports, last Saturday (February 2), a tigress "attacked" five persons in separate incidents as well as killed cattle near Vadachirakunnu Colony on the fringes of the Wayanad wildlife range. Around 8am the next day, the animal was seen in a coffee plantation. A people surrounded the tigress, it attacked a 14 year old girl in the crowd. It attacked four more persons before being darted and sent to the Thrissur zoo.

NCTA gives nod to tranquilise tiger that strayed from Panna

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has given its permission for tranquilisation of a tiger, which has been roaming on the Uttar Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh border for more than four months now, after it strayed from the Panna Tiger Reserve. Two teams of forest officials from UP's Lalitpur forest division and two teams from MP's Sagar forest division have been keeping a close watch on the movements of the tiger to avoid any possible incident of man-animal conflict and poaching. Sagar Divisional Forest Officer AK Singh said the NTCA has given its permission to tranquilise and trans-locate the tiger to Panna Tiger Reserve last week. He said a team of officials from the reserve and Wildlife Institute of India will soon come to examine the conditions of the area and check if the big cat can be tranquilised there. The tiger, identified as C-211, strayed from the Panna reserve and moved through Damoh, Chhatarpur and Sagar before being seen in Lalitpur's forest areas which don't have big cats. Lalitpur Divisional Forest Officer VK Jain said the latest location of the tiger was in Madaura forest range on Lalitpur-Sagar border and it had been there for about a month.

‘Poaching grave threat to our fauna’

Feb 08, 2013 India’s leading naturalist and field biologist Dr A.J.T. Johnsingh talks to Rashme Sehgal about his recently released book Mammals of South Asia, which he co-authored with Nima Manjrekar. Excerpts from the interview: Q. What made you take on this rather daunting task of editing a book on the mammals of South Asia? A. The absence of a book giving detailed information on the mammals of the South Asian region prompted Dr Nima Manjrekar and me to work on the book. South Asia has seen lots of research on mammals during the last 2-3 decades and there was a need to put this information together. Q. You were able to record the presence of 574 mammal species. Does this list include the names of animals that were considered extinct? A. Actually the listing was done by my colleague P.O. Nameer, who is an authority on mammalian taxonomy and he is also the Head of Centre for Wildlife Studies in Kerala Agricultural University. The list also includes the names of mammals that are extinct like the cheetah and Javan rhinoceros. The Sumatran rhino is extinct in India and Bangladesh where it was found earlier and its existence in Burma is precarious. The Great Indian rhino, which was once found in the Indus Valley region of Pakistan, is extinct there and is found only in India and Nepal. Q. Many of these species, including the lion, the Sikkim stag and the hangul are facing threats of extinction. As a naturalist, what should the government do to save our precious wildlife? A. The Sikkim stag is not found within the Indian region but its presence is reported from the Chumbi Valley in Tibet. Earlier the Chumbi Valley was part of Sikkim. The status of the hangul is very precarious with its population down to around 200 animals. The population is not increasing primarily because of grazing in the upper reaches of Dachigam National Park in Kashmir which is the only protected area in India which has the hangul. The upper reaches of Dachigam provides the summer retreat for the hangul where the deer go for fawning. There they face competition for feeding from cattle taken there by grazing communities and the fawns get killed by the dogs which accompany the graziers. The status of the lion in Gir landscape is satisfactory but their future is uncertain as they are found only in one landscape. If they are hit by a disease like canine-distemper,then the entire population will be in a serious trouble. In the early 1990s, the Serengeti lions were struck by canine distemper and nearly one third of the population of 3000-4000 lions were killed. Serengeti lions occur in a landscape of 30,000-40,000 landscape. If such a virulent disease affects Gir lions, it may wipe out this small population of nearly 400 lions which are confined to an area of 2,000 Therefore, there is an urgency of establishing the second home for the lions as we are right now carrying all the eggs in one basket. Kuno WLS in Madhya Pradesh is ready to receive some lions but the Gujarat state government has shown no inclination to part with even a few lions. This is extremely dangerous. Q. You have been closely involved with wildlife and our wildlife sanctuaries for several decades now. Are you happy with the state of our tiger reserves and sanctuaries or do you believe much more needs to be done? A. One of the biggest problems being faced by these sanctuaries is the Invasion of exotic which do not belong to the local area, like Lantana camara which has come from South America. Their presence reduces the carrying capacity of a wildlife habitat . The Kaziranga national reserve is invaded by a thorny plant called Mimosa invisa, a native of Brazil, which reduces the habitat available even for the thick-skinned rhino. The understory in the sal forests of the Kanha Tiger Reserve is dominated by Flemingeabracteata another inedible species. Lack of regeneration of species that are palatable to wild animals. In addition to this, we have the growing and the persistent problem of poaching. Tigers are poached to feed the medicinal needs of China when they can easily find medicine from non-tiger sources. Now the Vietnamese have started believing that rhino horn powder is a curative for cancer! Crucial corridors should be established without any delay. Threats to wildlife are increasing. I would like to cite the example of the need for a corridor to be established between the two halves of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve. We have not established it during the last 30 years. Q. With habitats getting fragmented, how can we save India’s diverse wildlife? A. This can only be done by the establishment of corridors and inviolate areas .. Q. The threat of global warming is expected to result in substantial changes in our present ecosystems. How do you see animal population being able to adapt to such changes ? A. Animal populations will suffer largely due to drought which is one manifestation of climate change. We are seeing this happening in the Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarahole landscape where rains have failed and a good number of elephants are dying. One thing we should do is to create thousands of garbage-free water bodies in the country.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

NTCA releases advisory on man-animal conflict

By Mazhar Ali, TNN | Feb 7, 2013, 02.16 AM IST HC notice for NTCA and CZA over white tigersNew norms for tiger reservesShutting down metro not the solutionCTET to be held on November 18Anti-nuclear Kudankulam dissenters plan novel New Year's protest CHANDRAPUR: Perturbed by the rising incidents of tiger-man conflict, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has come up with a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). SOP is an advisory on the steps that has to be taken while dealing with emergencies arising due to straying of tigers in human settlements. Its purpose is to ensure that the situation is handled in an appropriate manner so as to avoid casualty or injury to human beings, tigers, cattle or property. The procedure has been drawn up after consulting wildlife experts and the field officers. It has been sent to the all the PCCFs, Head of forest force and Chief Wildlife Wardens in the country. According to the SOP, in the event of a big cat straying into human settlement, a committee comprising of the chief wildlife warden, NTCA officials, a veterinarian, representatives of local NGO and the local panchayat has to be immediately formed. This committee will be responsible of providing technical guidance and also will ensure proper monitoring, on a day-to-day basis, in the problem area. Secondly, the big cat and its source area has to be identified. Also, data on livestock depredation and human injury or fatality has to be collected. If it is confirmed that the tiger is repeatedly straying into human settlements or is responsible for attacks on humans or livestocks, then the forest authorities have been advised to trap the animal as per standard procedures. SOP categorically puts the responsibility of maintaining law and order on the district authorities of the area. If successive trapping efforts fail, chemical immobilization of the big cat should be done by an expert team comprising of a veterinarian. In case the tranquillized tiger is healthy and is in its prime then it may be released into a suitable habitat after radio collaring it. However, the chief wildlife warden is vested with the responsibility of making the call on whether to release the animal or not. SOP also cautions that under no circumstances, a tiger should be eliminated by invoking the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, if it is not causing human death. It provides detailed guidelines on declaring a big cat a man-eater.

The problem with releasing ‘problem’ tigers back in forest

P. VENUGOPAL Tigress released in Karnataka 71 days ago trapped again in Wayanad last week Photo-matching done at the Centre for Wildlife Studies - India (CWS) in Bangalore now shows that the tiger trapped in Wayanad this Saturday is a ‘problem tiger’ that had created a conflict situation at a place called Nalkeri on the boundary of the Nagarahole National Park in Karnataka just 71 days ago. The finding points to need for a re-examination of the capture-release practice followed by the conservation officials in dealing with ‘problem tigers’ that stray into human habitations and cause conflict situations. This tiger was captured in a box trap by the Karnataka Forest officials on November 23 after two cattle-killing incidents on November 20 and 21 in Nalkeri village outside the western boundary of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve, according to conservation zoologist and director of CWS - India Programme, K. Ullas Karanth. It was an injured tiger and, after treatment at the Mysore zoo, was released by late evening on the same day near a place called Hidagalapanchi in Karnataka’s Bandipur Tiger Reserve. The place of release is less than 10 km, as the crow flies, from the adjoining Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. Dr. Karanth told The Hindu that the CWS had searched its database containing the stripe patterns of over 600 individually identifiable tigers surviving in the Malanad-Mysore landscape — a database that contains camera-trap pictures gathered over the years from the region — and found the match for the stripe pattern of the tiger captured this Saturday in Wayanad from a conflict situation. The study showed that this tiger—a tigress, in fact—is the same one that was repeatedly captured by camera-traps and even two wildlife photographers during the period from 2007 to 2012 from a particular area in Nagarahole National Park. It was pushed out of this area, which apparently was its home range, due to unknown reasons that could include inability to retain the home range in the face of competition. It started straying into the human habitations outside Nagarahole in November 2012, to be trapped by the Karnataka Forest officials. It returned once again to human settlements in neighbouring Kerala after being released in Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Apparently, the animal could not hunt and survive. Poor condition In a report to the Forest Department on Monday, Dr. Karanth and his associates N. Samba Kumar and Narendra Patil said the tigress, now in Thrissur zoo, should not be released back in the wild. It was eight years or more in age and in a very poor condition. Keywords: Centre for Wildlife Studies, Nagarahole National Park, Karnataka Forest officials, Bandipur Tiger Reserve

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New norms for tiger reserves

By Neha Madaan, TNN | Feb 6, 2013, 06.01 AM IST Tiger cub dead in Kaziranga, rhino battles for life at OrangRanthambore tigress relocated to SariskaWeb exclusive: Dams destroying fisheries, livelihoodsExperts question tiger count that inflamed WayanadMadhya Pradesh shifts 94 villages from notified National Parks and sa... PUNE: The chief wildlife warden of Maharashtra has issued advisories to the state's four tiger reserves -Sahyadri Tiger Reserve in Kolhapur, Tadoba-Andhari in Chandrapur, Pench in Nagpur and Melghat in Amravati - to follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) recently released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), framed to deal with emergencies arising because of tigers straying into human-dominated landscapes. Among other things, the SOP strictly prohibits gunning down a tiger or leopard. It also says that the district authorities need to ensure law and order by imposing section 144 of the CrPc to restrain agitated locals from surrounding the spot where the animal was seen. The guidelines assume significance for Pune too, as the city has witnessed cases of leopards straying into human habitations off late, the most recent being on January 25 in the Dehu Road cantonment limits. The SOP says that "under no circumstances, a tiger should be eliminated (by invoking the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972) if it is not habituated to causing human death". Forest officials in Pune said that the new norms would be applicable to Pune as well. "Almost all the guidelines and procedures mentioned in SOP can be used while trapping a leopard in case it strays into human habitats," a senior forest official said. An NTCA official told TOI that the SOP amalgamates all the earlier guidelines and brings them under a single point of reference. "There were guidelines in this regard but they were scattered. Hence, officials had difficulty in referring to them and seemed unaware of important rules. Also, the SOP makes it clear that shooting a tiger or leopard is the last resort, which will have to be corroborated with evidence. If a tiger or a leopard is shot during the event of it having strayed into a human habitat, the same will have to be documented. This means that the authorities concerned will have to prove that the animal was gunned down in extreme conditions, after having exhausted all other options," the official said. He added that this advisory existed earlier, but many were oblivious to it. State chief wildlife warden S W H Naqvi said the SOP has been sent to all the tiger reserves in Maharashtra. "The SOP suggests field actions to deal with strayed wild carnivores (tiger/ leopard). It suggests setting up camera traps near the kill site to confirm the identity of the animal. In addition, it lists what should be done on the spot, what should be carried along, among other things. It thus provides the basic minimum steps which are required to be taken at the field level to deal with such cases," he said. Under the SOP, a committee has to be constituted for technical guidance and monitoring on a day-to-day basis after a big cat strays into a human-dominated habitat. It also suggests that the tiger and its source area should be identified by comparing camera trap photographs with those in the National Repository of Camera Trap Photographs of Tigers or the reserve level photo databases. It says that if it is an area which is historically prone to such cases, detailed research should be carried out in order to ascertain the reasons for the recurring tiger emergencies. It further states that in case of confirmed livestock depredation, human injury, fatal encounters or frequent straying of tigers near human settlements, authorities should set up automatic closure traps. Officials said the imposition of section 144 of the CrPc existed earlier as an advisory. The SOP spells it out clearly so that the authorities concerned become aware of its existence. "It is also necessary that police and local administration be involved at an early stage of the straying incidents. Effective coordination with them is critical to control mobs, which, as has been seen in several instances, worsen the situation and lead to avoidable fatalities or tragedies," the SOP says. The 22-page document also says that if continuous trapping efforts fail, chemical immobilisation of the animal should be carried out by an expert team, including a veterinarian. It adds that if the tranquilised tiger is found to be healthy and young, it should be released after radio collaring into a suitable habitat with adequate prey base, away from human settlements, after notifying the NTCA.

Safari park mooted, tigers to roar again in Nahargarh

By Rachna Singh, TNN | Feb 6, 2013, 07.29 AM IST 'Realise need to save environment'Environment film festival in DelhiEnvironment committee report damns KozhikodeRiver, lakes conservation: Panel slams environment ministryGlobal environment remains unpredictable: Genpact vice-chairman JAIPUR: The Nahargarh hills in the city may soon become a destination for wildlife lovers coming to Jaipur if a proposal to start tiger safari in the sanctuary area is approved. The idea is to cash on tourists who visit Amber by creating an additional tourism facility. Besides the forts and the museums , Jaipur would also become a potential wildlife destination and a quick substitute to Ranthambore and Sariska Tiger Reserve. "Though discussions are at a preliminary stage, tiger safari at Nahargarh sanctuary has great potential. The sanctuary at the moment houses just the rescue centre and soon work would commence on Nahargarh Zoological Park funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Once it is completed in two years, the Jaipur zoo, established in 1877, would be shifted there. But an added attraction would be the tiger safari in 30 hectares," said Bina Kak, minister for tourism, environment and forests . The Nahargarh Biological Park is spread over 720 hectares . Part of the park is the Nahargarh Zoological Park covering an area of 80 hectares . The proposed tiger safari in Nahargarh, which initially was the abode of tigers, would offer tourists assured sighting of the big cat in its natural habitat. "We are contemplating talking to the Chattbir zoo near Chandigarh as it has excess tigers. At the moment they house nearly 30-35 tigers. Another option could be the Delhi zoo from where we could bring the tigers," said Kak. Keeping in tune with the entire project, there wouldn't be a prey base for the tigers. "The tourists will be taken on a special route in guarded vehicles . We plan to leave two to four tigers in the forest here. There would be a double-layer fencing of the 30 hectares so that the tigers don't stray out," said Ajay Gupta, deputy conservator of forests (zoo). If implemented, Nahargarh may become a total wildlife destination. The master layout plan has been approved by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), and designs of the various enclosures are complete. Add to the two facilities to be developed, the rescue centre at the Nahargarh Biological Park already houses nine tigers, one tiger and 14 lions. "We have planned to develop two or three routes in and around the Nahargarh Biological Park on which tourists will be allowed safaris with trained guides by forest department. The tourists visiting the park will be charged a nominal fee as per the policy of department . Under the ongoing JICA project Rajasthan Forestry & Biodiversity Project phase I, infrastructural facilities like water supply, electricity, boundary wall and roads are already in place. Now, under the RFPB, for which the government has received Rs 13 crore from JICA, animal enclosures would be created to shift animals from the Jaipur zoo.

Tiger found dead outside Nagarahole tiger reserve

By HM Aravind, TNN | Feb 5, 2013, 10.16 PM IST Killing of tiger in Nagarahole Reserve isolated case, wildlife crime ...Kodagu hockey player alleges rape for months, is pregnantHarangi hobli in Kodagu records minimum temperature in state.Tiger spottingTiger found dead in Ranthambore tiger reserve MYSORE: A male tiger has been found dead near the coffee estate bordering Nagarahole tiger reserve in Kodagu. The carcass of the tiger had decomposed and the cause of death of the big cat remains unknown. However, foul play is not suspected since all its parts are intact. The tiger is suspected to have died a week back and came to light on Tuesday. The remains were noticed outside a coffee estate at Parakatageri near Srimangala in Virajpet taluk. APCCF and field director (Project Tiger) B J Hosmath told TOI that the tiger has died in Kodagu district. It is outside the Nagarahole national park, he stated. It is suspected to have died a week back, he said. Forest officials visited the site and inspected the area. The tiger is suspected to have entered the village from Brahmagiri forest, which is some 2km from the site. Sources said it is a male tiger and cause could not to be immediately known since the body has decomposed. The remains are sent to lab to detect the cause but it is suspected to have died because of old age. A vet, who has experience in handling such cases, said the cause of death could be hard to find given that the body has decomposed. "We can pinpoint the cause of death if we happen to locate the body within three days of death. Later the organs will be putrefied leaving little for us to locate the cause. Though the viscera will be sent for lab examination, it is not easy to find the cause," he stated.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Impose Sec 144 of CrPC if wild animal strays, suggests NTCA

New Delhi: If a wild animal like tiger or leopard strays into human habitat, impose Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) that prohibits assembly of more than four persons in a particular area. This is part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) developed by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to prevent attacks with an aim of ensuring that such wild carnivores do not fall victim of mob fury as also not to cause injuries to people by the animal. The SOP argues that such a measure is essential to avoid agitation by excited local people surrounding the animal spot which hampers capture operation, leading to serious injuries on people and staff. "In all, instances of wild carnivores like tiger/leopard straying into a human dominated landscape, the district authorities need to ensure law and order by imposing section 144 of the CrPc," it says. It also says that police police and local administration to be involved at an early stage of such incidents. "Effective coordination with them is critical to control mobs which as has been seen in several instances, worsen the situation and lead to avoidable fatalities and tragedies," it says. The SOP says under no circumstances, a tiger should be eliminated by invoking the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, if it is not habituated for causing human death. In case of a healthy tiger occupying a sugarcane field or similar habitat, attempt should be made first to attract it to nearby forest area, while avoiding disturbance, it says. If such operations fail, the animal should be captured through immobilisation for release in low density area of a nearby tiger reserve or protected area after radio collaring, the SOP says. PTI

Forest department in Wayanad backtracks after protests

By K R Rajeev, TNN | Feb 5, 2013, 04.47 AM IST OZHIKODE: The forest department has withdrawn its decision to construct speed breakers on the three km stretch of Bathery-Pulpally road at a major elephant crossing point in the bio-diversity rich Wayanad forests. The latest backtracking by the forest department, third in a row in just a week, in the face of stiff opposition from organized groups has raised concern among environmentalists on the future of conservation efforts in Wayanad. Just in a week's time, three key conservation measures were shot down by vested interests by employing mob tactics and holding out threats of hartals. Among the other measures dropped by the department include its opposition to widen NH 212 passing through the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and ban on night time parking inside the sanctuary. Consequently, the road widening works of NH 212 from Muthanga to the state border commenced on Wednesday and the government has also retracted on the ban on parking of vehicles inside the sanctuary. Green organizations say that the vested interests, which tasted its first blood in the mob-induced killing of a stray tiger in December, were fuelling anti-conservation sentiments among people. The lobby, greens say, has tightened its sway over the public and was now dictating terms even on day-to-day forest management issues. According to forest department sources, the Kuruchiad range officer had written to the PWD department to construct speed breakers on the Bathery- Pulpally road at a distance of 200 metres from Kuppady (4th mile) to Chethalayam(6th mile ) as the stretch was a major animal crossing point on their way to reach the scarce water bodies in the sanctuary. But the move invited the wrath of the public forcing the department to write another letter to the PWD department not to take up the works. "Now the general mood in Wayanad is very much antagonistic to all things connected to forests and environment. Certain vested interests, with the support of political parties, trade organisations and even religious groups, have succeeded in creating a fear psychosis among the people. It is shocking to see that public are even not ready to tolerate 4-5 humps on a road for wildlife protection," N Badusha, president of Wayanad Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi said. A senior forest official told TOI that the retraction on the three operational issues showed the level of pressure faced by forest officials in the area. "All this will definitely affect the morale of the forest force," he said. Meanwhile Wayanad Samrakshana Samithi, said that most of the controversial orders, like the parking ban, were made by bureaucrats without taking the people into confidence. "Wayanad is a special case in the entire country as 38 percent of the land is under forest cover. In addition, a further around 30 percent of the land is covered by plantations. It is not proper to impose additional arbitrary restrictions on people. All conservations activities should be implemented only after taking the people into confidence," Adv. P Chathukutty, President of the Samithi said.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Rhinos new preys for Dudhwa tigers?

TNN | Feb 1, 2013, 04.38 AM IST Rare baby honey badger diesBlackbucks already threatened by poaching, inbreeding and diseasesUP's state fish Chitla is now critically endangeredGreat Indian Bustard killed in Jaisalmer, forest dept files FIRPlanting rare trees to save the planet LUCKNOW: Have Dudhwa tigers shunned their preferred prey - the cheetals and sambhars - to hunt the mighty rhinos? The killing of a 35-year-old female rhino by a tiger in Dudhwa national park and the subsequent eating of the carcass has raised a doubt if the behaviour of Dudhwa tigers is changing. The experts are not ready to buy the argument that the declining prey base is the reason why tigers are hunting and eating rhinos. "If tiger population in the park is increasing, prey base can not decline," said Tito Joseph from the wildlife protection society of India ( WPSI). The tiger sneaked into the rhino rehabilitation area to kill the 35-year-old female rhino Pavitri, brought to Dudhwa in 1984 under the rhino rehabilitation programme. This was the fifth attack since November last year on rhinos by tigers in Dudhwa. In the past one year, two rhinos have been killed by tigers and one has rescued by the park administration in Dudhwa. The feline attacks on rhinos aren't rare. But, in most of the incidents, it's the cubs which are killed. Contrary to this, it was an adult female rhino killed this time. Is it the same tiger which is killing rhinos? Is the attacking feline old? Bibhav Taluqdar, who chairs International Union for Conservation of Nature Asian rhino specialist group, said Dudhwa authorities should try to find answers to such questions in case the attacks are rampant. "It's not rare that tigers kill and eat rhino. Rhino comes as an easy hunt for a tiger who can not chase a deer," he said. Assam's Kaziranga National Park, which shelters the biggest population of rhinos, has about 15 to 20 rhino cubs getting killed in tiger attacks every year. The killing of an adult rhino is not common. "A tigress rearing its cubs can kill a rhino as the feline need not go far from its cubs," said Taluqdar. Though rhinos are mighty, a single adult tiger can kill a rhino. In Corbett there have been incidents where elephants have been killed by tigers. Compared to this rhino is an easier kill, he said. Tigers eating rhino, experts feel, is not bewildering. "Rhino is not a preferred prey for tigers but once killed, tigers can eat it," said Joseph. Deputy director, Dudhwa Ganesh Bhatt said, "we have informed central government about the rhino mortalities". In Dudhwa, rhinos were re-introduced in 1984 under state's rhino rehabilitation programme. At present, 29 rhinos are present in the Kakraha range of the park. Existing in maximum numbers in Kaziranga national park, rhinos exist in Dudhwa tiger reserve in UP and Valimiki Reserve in Bihar.

Rhinos new preys for Dudhwa tigers?

TNN | Feb 1, 2013, 04.38 AM IST Rare baby honey badger diesBlackbucks already threatened by poaching, inbreeding and diseasesUP's state fish Chitla is now critically endangeredGreat Indian Bustard killed in Jaisalmer, forest dept files FIRPlanting rare trees to save the planet LUCKNOW: Have Dudhwa tigers shunned their preferred prey - the cheetals and sambhars - to hunt the mighty rhinos? The killing of a 35-year-old female rhino by a tiger in Dudhwa national park and the subsequent eating of the carcass has raised a doubt if the behaviour of Dudhwa tigers is changing. The experts are not ready to buy the argument that the declining prey base is the reason why tigers are hunting and eating rhinos. "If tiger population in the park is increasing, prey base can not decline," said Tito Joseph from the wildlife protection society of India ( WPSI). The tiger sneaked into the rhino rehabilitation area to kill the 35-year-old female rhino Pavitri, brought to Dudhwa in 1984 under the rhino rehabilitation programme. This was the fifth attack since November last year on rhinos by tigers in Dudhwa. In the past one year, two rhinos have been killed by tigers and one has rescued by the park administration in Dudhwa. The feline attacks on rhinos aren't rare. But, in most of the incidents, it's the cubs which are killed. Contrary to this, it was an adult female rhino killed this time. Is it the same tiger which is killing rhinos? Is the attacking feline old? Bibhav Taluqdar, who chairs International Union for Conservation of Nature Asian rhino specialist group, said Dudhwa authorities should try to find answers to such questions in case the attacks are rampant. "It's not rare that tigers kill and eat rhino. Rhino comes as an easy hunt for a tiger who can not chase a deer," he said. Assam's Kaziranga National Park, which shelters the biggest population of rhinos, has about 15 to 20 rhino cubs getting killed in tiger attacks every year. The killing of an adult rhino is not common. "A tigress rearing its cubs can kill a rhino as the feline need not go far from its cubs," said Taluqdar. Though rhinos are mighty, a single adult tiger can kill a rhino. In Corbett there have been incidents where elephants have been killed by tigers. Compared to this rhino is an easier kill, he said. Tigers eating rhino, experts feel, is not bewildering. "Rhino is not a preferred prey for tigers but once killed, tigers can eat it," said Joseph. Deputy director, Dudhwa Ganesh Bhatt said, "we have informed central government about the rhino mortalities". In Dudhwa, rhinos were re-introduced in 1984 under state's rhino rehabilitation programme. At present, 29 rhinos are present in the Kakraha range of the park. Existing in maximum numbers in Kaziranga national park, rhinos exist in Dudhwa tiger reserve in UP and Valimiki Reserve in Bihar.

Sariska poacher, six accomplices get 7 years in jail

TNN | Feb 1, 2013, 03.52 AM IST RELATED 2 more held in tiger poaching caseJharkhand awarded for bear population managementInternational conference on bear conservation begins tomorrow in New ...Stranded gibbon family in Arunachal translocatedMoEF team to assess impact of felling on corridors JAIPUR: Notorious poacher Juhru and his six accomplices were sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and a fine of Rs one lakh in a tiger poaching case at Sariska Tiger Reserve recently. The case pertains to the killing of a tiger by the accused in 2004, said Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) lawyer Koushal Bhardwaj, who was assisting the prosecution. The accused were awarded maximum sentence by additional chief judicial magistrate - 1 on January 24. An accused in 14 wildlife cases, including six cases of tiger poaching, Juhru was previously convicted in at least two cases of leopard poaching and one case of tiger poaching in 2003 at Sariska. He was sentenced to five years each in the leopard cases, and seven years for the tiger case. "He was one of the main persons responsible for the disappearance of tigers from Sariska," said Ashok Kumar, vice-chairman, WTI. "Such sentences are generally awarded concurrently under our law. However, repeat offenders should be serving consecutive sentences for all these killings," he said.

Expert team to visit tiger reserves

By Lawrence Milton, TNN | Jan 31, 2013, 07.32 PM IST READ MORE Bandipur Tiger Reserves|Ajai Desai MYSORE: An expert team comprising senior officials and wildlife experts will visit Nagarahole and Bandipur Tiger Reserves to assess the situation in the first week of February. This follows the drought-like situation at both the protected areas. Water sources in parts of the tiger reserves have completely dried up ahead of summer due to lack of rains in the last two seasons. This has been cause of worry for officials concerned as animals are migrating to different places. Nagarahole witnessed worst forest fire in February 2011 and hundreds of acres of forest were destroyed in the fire. As there is no rain this season many parts have become dry, which could aggravate situation this summer season. Officials are making all-out efforts to prevent any forest fire which will cause threat to animals especially tiger. A meeting chaired by forest minister C P Yogeshwar at Bangalore on Thursday has decided to send a team comprising of senior forest officials and animal experts like Ajai Desai, who is also steering committee of project elephant, Ministry of environment and forests, to take stock of the situation. Nagarahole director R Gokul, who attended the meeting, confirmed the visit of an expert team to Nagarahole tiger reserve to find out ground reality. The team are expected to visit the forest next week.