A complete ban on mining activities in areas of national parks, tiger reserves and wildflife sancturies 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 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 on Friday.
The panel submitted the report in July last, the ministry chose to make it public at a time when there is lot of discussion in the country on the issue of diversion of forest areas for mining and infrastructure projects.
The consultative meeting between the two countries agreed on an eleven-point resolution that laid stress on the joint monitoring of tigers dwelling in the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) which stretches over 950 km across the borders of India and Nepal.
It also focused on strengthening trans-boundary efforts in curbing poaching, illegal trade of wildlife and forest products, and other similar preventive measures.
At present, there are an estimated 500 tigers in the TAL, which also has one of the highest densities of tigers in the world. The landscape allows tigers to disperse, conserving their natural behaviour, ecology, and genetic diversity.
The 2004 census had claimed that the tiger population in Indian Sundarban was around 274 and the figure dropped to an estimated 70 in the 2010 census, prompting experts to cast doubts on its accuracy as they claimed that scientific methods were not used for the head count.
The figure was put at 90-odd by certain agencies involved in the census in the world’s largest mangrove forest six months ago but the new survey puts the tiger population between 64-90.
“Population estimation of the Sundarbans tigers was done with a combination of camera trapping and satellite telemetry. The total population for the Indian Sundarbans was estimated to be between 64 to 90 tigers,” says the latest Environment Ministry document.
According to the new document, a tiger density of 4.3 tigers per 100 sqkm has been estimated at the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and its surrounding areas.
The All India Tiger Estimation Exercise for 2010 had revealed that the tiger population in the country has risen to 1706 compared to 1411 in 2006.
The total area of the Sunderbans is 9630 sqkm out of which 4264 sqkm bears mangrove forest. The area of the Reserve is 2585 sqkm covering land area of 1600 sqkm and water body over 985 sqkm.
KOLLAM/WAYANAD, December 4, 2012
Maneka says it was not a man-eater
A special task force of the Forest Department shot dead the tiger inside a coffee plantation near Moolamkavu on Sunday after it ventured out of the forest and lifted over a dozen cattle from the neighbouring villages. Green activists in the State are up in arms against the killing and have threatened to move the Kerala High Court on the issue.People for Animals (PFA) chairperson Maneka Gandhi said “the incident creates a sound base to wind up the Wildlife Department.”
Talking to The Hindu on the phone from the PFA headquarters in New Delhi on Monday, she said the tiger was not a man-eater and there was no reason to kill it. A so-called special task force was deployed to “capture” the tiger and “not to kill it.” It could have been easily captured and relocated.
According to the Forest Department, it all happened because an uncontrollable crowd followed the task force inside the forests. This made it clear that the authorities had encouraged people to come inside the forests and witness the operation. “The operation should have been one to save the tiger and not to eliminate it,” she said.
The incident conveyed a message that Kerala had got used to killing its wildlife treasures without giving any forethought. “The State has a Wildlife Department which either takes bad decisions or no decisions,” she said.
When contacted, a top forest officer, who did not wish to be quoted, said the department had ordered a high-level probe into the incident. The probe would focus on whether shooting the tiger at that point of time could be justified.
The officer said the task force adhered to all rules and tried its best to tranquilise, capture and relocate the tiger. But the crowd was simply unmanageable.
E. Kunhikrishnan, wildlife enthusiast and professor at University College, Thiruvananthapuram, told The Hindu that the Forest Department had done its best to save the tiger. But the tragedy occurred because of the mob.
However, there was some lack of professionalism in administering the tranquiliser shots. Tigers had been easily tranquilised and relocated in other parts of the country. It also appeared puzzling how the whole incident got videographed as though it was a documentary, Professor Kunhikrishnan said.
Veterinary surgeon and technical expert of the Kollam unit of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals B. Aravind, who had tranquilised and brought under control several captive elephants that ran amok, said there appeared to have been some technical failure in the tranquiliser shots. He blamed the mob for the situation.
It would take at least 10 minutes for the tiger to swoon. The mob made the tiger wary and defensive when it experienced the pain of the tranquiliser shot, Dr. Aravind said.
cee4life – Dead Kerala Tiger from below post – 79 BENGAL TIGERS DEAD SO FAR FOR 2012 INDIAN GOV!!! 79!!! YOUVE ONLY GOT ABOUT 1000 (I DONT BELIEVE THE CENSUS) TO PROTECT. THERE 1.3 BILLION OF YOU, YOU TELL ME YOU CANT PROTECT 1000 PRECIOUS TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UTTER PURE LAZINESS. RELEASE SOME OF THAT BLACK MONEY AND FUND ANTI POACHING TEAMS AND RESCUE TEAMS NOW…. OR YOU WILL LOOSE THEM ALL….. F#*K
By Prerna Sodhi, TNN | Dec 2, 2012, 12.42 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Time is running out for Delhi zoo‘s largest and oldest tiger. Naresh, a fierce and restless Royal Bengal Tiger, who has saved many a dull evening for visitors with his growling and angry pacing over seven years, is in the zoo hospital with terminal symptoms of old age. He is getting convulsions, possibly due to cerebral haemorrhage caused by old age, sources say.
“His survival seems difficult. His condition right now is critical, and he is just alive and breathing. We are trying our best to keep him alive and healthy,” said a source at the zoo. Naresh is fairly old for a tiger. The zoo’s vets say tigers in captivity live to 18-20 years of age. Twenty-year-old Naresh has beaten that average.
Officials say Naresh is the first wild cat at the zoo to have fallen seriously ill in the last one year. A 21-year-old lion, Ghagas, had died in June, last year.
Naresh was hospitalised after his health deteriorated five days ago. “We have done all the tests. Blood and urine samples have been collected, but they show no serious illness. The health of the tiger is deteriorating due to its age,” said Dr N Panneer Selvam, veterinary officer at the zoo, adding that they are trying to improve Naresh’s health by injecting glucose and electrolytes. Naresh was reported to be responding to treatment till Friday but on Saturday his health deteriorated.
Zoo curator Riaz Ahmad Khan said Naresh was caught in the wild in central India and brought to Delhi in 2005 from the zoo in Bhopal. He has always been known as a ferocious cat, with a missing tooth for a mark of identity. Zoo officials say he is a lone ranger who dodged not only fatherhood but also female company. Tigresses introduced to him were invariably attacked.
Delhi zoo has five other Royal Bengal Tigers, one male and four females.
However, this training, which is supposed to come from the mother leopard or through the fight for survival, is being imparted by forest officials.
The officials, who have been rearing this wild cat for the past four months, say the cub will be released in the zoo closure in another one and a half months, when it starts feeding on beef. In May, Tejas was brought to the zoo from a village in Uttar Pradesh.
The cub had strayed into the village a month after its birth, and a family had taken it under their wing. The cub was handed over to the zoo officials when it was two to four months old. Officials say they are working mainly on its feeding habits to preserve its wild nature.
New Delhi : Even as news of rampant poaching of rhinoceroses has become a political issue in Assam, here is a report that claims that at least four leopards have been poached and their body parts traded illegally each week for at least 10 years in India.
According to the “Illuminating the Blind Spot: A study on illegal trade in leopard parts in India” by wildlife organisation TRAFFIC, along with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), a total of 420 seizures of leopard skins, bones and other body parts were reported from 209 places in India during 2001-2010. The report was released Friday.
Statistical analysis concludes that around 2,294 leopards were poached and their parts traded over the 10-year period in India, an average of four leopards a week.
Leopards are protected under India’s domestic legislation, and commercial international trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“TRAFFIC’s objective analysis has cast new light on the sheer scale of the illicit trade in leopard parts in India, which has hitherto been overshadowed by the trade in another of the country’s national icons, the tiger,” said Divyabhanusinh Chavda, president, WWF-India.
“Without an effective strategy to assess and tackle the threats posed by illegal trade, the danger is that leopard numbers may decline rapidly as happened previously to the tiger,” he said.
Uttarakhand emerged as a major source of leopard parts in trade, while Delhi was found to be a major epicentre of the illegal trade, along with adjacent areas of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
Dr. Rashid Raza, coordinator, TRAFFIC in India, and the lead author of the study, said: “Even though reports of illegal trade in leopard body parts are disturbingly frequent, the level of threat to leopards in the country has previously been unrecognized, and has fallen into our collective ‘blind spot’.”
Close to 90 percent of reported leopard part seizures in India comprise solely of skins, making them the dominant body part found in illegal trade during the 10 year period. Other body parts, particularly bones, are known to be prescribed as substitutes for tiger parts in traditional Asian medicine.
It is believed most leopard parts are smuggled out of India to other countries in Asia, often via the porous border with Nepal.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on Wednesday submitted new guidelines to the SC stating that at present, tourists were permitted to visit only 20% of the core areas of tiger reserves and it was well within the ecologically permissible levels. Taking into account the court’s concern for tiger conservation, the NTCA, functioning under the ministry of environment and forests, said that conservation efforts must have public participation and regulated tourism was an effective and invaluable tool to harness community support for this purpose.
The NTCA submitted the new guidelines to the court. which said, “With the importance of tourism in tiger conservation in mind, it is recommended that a maximum of 20% of the core/critical tiger habitat usage (not exceeding the present usage) for regulated, low-impact tourist visitation may be permitted.”
The new guidelines said, “Any core area in a tiger reserve from which relocation has been carried out will not be used for tourism infrastructure.” This means that the guidelines permit continuance of existing lodging facilities put up by the government and private people in core areas but no future construction would be allowed.
The guidelines also kept in mind the rehabilitation of forest dwellers.”Tourism infrastructure must conform to environment-friendly, low-impact aesthetic architecture, including solar energy, waste recycling, rainwater harvesting, natural cross-ventilation, proper sewage disposal and merging with surroundings. All tourist facilities in core areas must conform to these specifications,” it added. It also recommended phasing out of permanent tourist facilities in core/critical areas.
Taking into account the court’s concern for tiger conservation, the NTCA said that conservation efforts must have public participation and regulated tourism was an effective and invaluable tool to harness community support for this purpose.
Some environmentalists might be outraged by the suggestion that tourism should be allowed in the core areas of tiger reserves, but we believe it is the sensible thing to do with safeguards. Creating a situation in which local populations and tourists have no stake in the core areas does not help protect tigers. On the contrary, it leaves poachers and those willing to collude with them as the dominant stakeholders in these areas if not the only ones. That would be a recipe for disaster. It is much better to allow tourist activity within well-defined and strictly monitored restrictions.
First Published: Mon, Sep 24 2012. 10 18 PM IST
Photo: Hindustan Times
The government has to submit the new norms to the Supreme Court, which is deciding a case on curbing tiger tourism in India, before the next hearing on 27 September. Photo: Hindustan Times