|Published: Friday, Feb 22, 2013, 10:30 IST
By Dhaval Kulkarni | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
|Published: Friday, Feb 22, 2013, 10:30 IST
By Dhaval Kulkarni | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Nagpur : The Forest department has arrested seven people for poaching a big cat, whose carcass was found in the Deolapar range of Nagpur Territorial Forest last week, near Pench Tiger Reserve and recovered parts from them.
The arrest was made early Sunday morning.
Further exposing the laxity of the department, it was revealed that the tiger was killed around Diwali last year.
This means nobody, including senior officers, patrolled the area barely 300 metres from a national highway the past three months.
A forest guard and a labourer were suspended for dereliction of duty.
Post-mortem revealed the tiger was probably electrocuted.
“The arrested persons have admitted poaching,” divisional forest officer P K Mahajan said.
While four persons were arrested from two villages near the place where the carcass was found, three were arrested from Tumsar tehsil 80 km away.
The seizure included 12 claws, skull and rib-cage bones.
“They (poachers) said they put wire to kill wild pigs. When they found the tiger dead, they kept off the place only to return a few days later to remove some parts,” Mahajan said.
Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Nov 11, 2012, 01.07AM IST
Well-known as the setting for Rudyard Kipling‘s ‘Jungle Book‘, the Pench Tiger Reserve on the Maharashtra side is now an open treasure trove. Unexplored and kept out of bounds from wildlife lovers for years together, the mystique forest is now opening its doors and is set to be an ideal tourist destination.
Till yesterday, Pench was known for its mundane 30-km route from Sillari to Saddle Dam. Half of the route is a tar road where sightings are almost nil. Although the rest of the forest trail keeps you guessing, tourists are wary of sightings on this route due to disturbance from fishermen who sneak into the reserve for fishing in Totladoh reservoir from villages on the periphery of Pench.
Now, under the initiative taken by MS Reddy, field director and chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Pench, four new routes have been opened this season. It is a bonanza of sorts for the tourists overriding the common apprehension that Pench would be worst sufferer post Supreme Court ruling on ban on tourism in core area of tiger reserves.
However, nothing can be a better opportunity to visit Pench’s mystery forest trails now. It would be a bonus if you sight a tiger at Fefrikund or for that matter in riverine Ambakhori or Bakhari. But if you really want to see how a forest should be or for that matter just enjoy nature and its landscape, the Maharashtra side of Pench is eagerly awaiting to welcome you. The lush green forest, a combination of ain, dhawda, and teak trees, says it all.
While Ambakhori takes you down the memory lane when you must have visited the spot as a picnicker, the newly opened spots like Hattigota, Ranidoh, Gavlighat, Bakhari, Fefrikund, Bamboo Van, Dugpoint, Kirangisarra are breathtaking. Nestled amid the sprawling greenery covering green and dense forests, these routes offer you a unique retreat which brings you close to nature and wildlife. The peculiar names of these spots draw you to them but there is no record to show how they derived it.
With the new arrangement, even tourists are happy. “Forget tigers or leopards for a while, the landscape on all the new routes is entirely different. You get a feel of parks Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Ranthambore at various points,” says Himanshu Bagde, a regular visitor to parks in India.
Bagde is keen that the trophies at Ranidoh, lying in a shambles, to be restored and kept at the interpretation centre at Ambakhori or Sillari to educate tourists. “Steps should be taken to expedite relocation of Fulzari village, which is a stumbling block,” he feels.
Apart from the 40km Saddle Dam area opened for tourism earlier, additional 55km routes – 32km on the right side of Sillari and 25km on the left side – have been opened. One of the reasons to open some new routes was to counter illegal fishermen who used small trails inside the park. Now movement of tourists on these routes is likely to be a deterrent.
“The additional routes would mean more employment for locals as guides and livelihood through ecotourism,” feels East Pench range forest officer (RFO) GP Bobde.
Even forester Vinayak Charde hoped the move will rival MP side of Pench as many visitors are interested in flora, birds and landscape. Sighting a tiger can only be accidental in Pench owing to its rugged terrain.
However, while tourists are blissful, eyebrows are being raised on opening of new routes. Allaying fears of critics, field director Reddy says the new routes commensurate with the new MoEF guidelines which permit 20% of the core/critical tiger habitat as a tourism zone.
“Current tourism zone where visitors are being permitted is well within 20%, which is 52 sq km if 257 sq km core area of Pench is considered. Tourists moving on various routes have only 100 metres of forests available on both sides. Even if this formula is applied, tourism doesn’t exceed the limits,” Reddy says.
Reddy explains Pench is in an advantageous position as its landscape overlaps with adjoining Mansinghdeo Wildlife Sanctuary on Chorbahuli and Deolapar in its buffer where there is no restriction on tourism.
“Why the fuss,” asks Reddy. He adds, “Our basic aim is to help locals. For example, one of the ideas is to serve breakfast to tourists at Ambakhori interpretation centre. Money collected will go to women self-help group in Sillari.”
Punch to override other parks!
Pench river bisects the reserve between East and West but tourists may see both unite. At present, both East and West Pench have separate entry points and west side is isolated. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has released Rs 1.15 crore to develop ecotourism in Pench. Under the plan, around six solar-powered boats for tourists will be procured. Apart from jungle safari, tourists will have a sojourn to an island, a revenue land surrounded by water near Kirangisarra. A 12km road from Kirangisarra to Chorbahuli is being developed in the Pench buffer. With this visitors will be able to enter Pench through Chorbahuli too. The area is beautiful as natural water bodies have developed at some abandoned mines. Tourism here will ease pressure on core in future. Plans are also afoot to procure barge, which will be used to ferry tourists vehicles on the west side.
Monday, 29 October 2012 23:51 Staff Reporter | Bhopal
As many as 295 posts at various levels are lying vacant in six tiger reserves of the State, posing a security threat to the big cats there.
A highest of 222 vacancies are at the level of forest guards, 46 at foresters, 25 of forest rangers and two of deputy forest rangers, according to an information received in response to an RTI query filed by activist Ajay Dubey.
Of the total vacancies, 87 are in Satpura Tiger reserve, Hoshangabad, 62 in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Mandala, 46 in Sanjay Tiger Reserve, Sidhi, 44 in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Umaria, 37 in Panna Tiger Reserve, Panna and 19 in Pench Tiger Reserve, Seoni, it said.
Tiger population in the country was estimated to be 1,706 as per the 2010 data. Madhya Pradesh has about 257 big cats in its various reserves.
Incidentally, Madhya Pradesh has not yet constituted a Special Tiger Protection Force despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s directive to the State Government in this regard two years ago.
The Prime Minister in April 2010 had written to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan emphasising on “urgent need” to ensure safety of tigers through a slew of measures including declaration of buffer areas at tiger reserves and setting up of a special force to protect the wild cats.
“It is unfortunate that the State Government has not filled vacant posts in various tiger reserves. It has also not formed a Special Tiger Protection Force to save the wild cats. We will soon meet the Chief Minister in this regard,” Dubey said.
Authorities in June had found a full grown tiger dead in the forest area of neighbouring Sehore district allegedly killed by poachers.
In a bid to conserve and expand the country’s slender population of tigers, India is considering guidelines that may ban tourism from the core areas of reserves.
Tiger tourism is a 10 billion-rupee (Dh665 million) industry. But in a bid to conserve and expand the country’s slender population of tigers, India is considering guidelines that may ban tourism from the core areas of reserves.
The supreme court issued a temporary ban on such tourism in late July and it has given the government until September 27 to review its guidelines to protect the big cats.
Environmentalists are far from united over this course of action, with some suggesting that tourism could help to increase tiger numbers.
According to government estimates, there were about 4,000 tigers in the wild in India during the 1990s, but that number declined steeply to about 1,400 in 2006. In the past five years, however, thanks to renewed conservation efforts, that number has risen to more than 1,700.
For the Bhopal-based environmentalist Ajay Dubey, this is not enough. The supreme court’s decision came in response to a petition filed by Mr Dubey who has been pursuing an outright ban in the core areas for nearly two years.
The core area of a reserve, defined as an animal’s crucial habitat, is surrounded by a buffer zone, a strategy designed to balance the livelihoods of local communities with the need to protect wildlife.
Mr Dubey said he would be open to “controlled tourism, under rules and regulations” in the reserves’ buffer zones.
He said he was not “against tourism or eco-tourism at all” but “right now, the industry is just interested in making money”.
Part of Mr Dubey’s argument hinges on a clause of India’s wildlife protection act of 1972, which says that the core areas of reserves should be kept free of human activity. He insists that he is pushing only for the implementation of that clause.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority, a government body formed in 2005, administers 42 tiger reserves across India with the biggest reserves attracting nearly half a million tourists every year.
A 2005 report commissioned by the ministry of environment and forests said tourism in these reserves, if mismanaged, “can lead to further stress on the tiger’s habitat”.
The report’s recommendations, however, only suggested managing tourism better and ploughing its revenues back into conservation efforts, and not banning it altogether.
Vishal Singh, the director of Travel Operators for Tigers, a lobby group, said there was no cause and effect relationship between heavy tourism and a decline in the tiger population.
One study, conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India and published this year, seems to back him up.
Researchers found “no significant difference” between tiger densities in the two zones.
Mr Singh also cited statistics from six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh suggesting that, even as tourism to these reserves grew between 2008 and last year, the number of tigers in the parks “either increased or remained stable”.
Mr Singh said the problems with tiger conservation lay elsewhere, such as in the 30,000-odd vacancies in the government’s forestry departments that had yet to be filled or in the lack of incentives for local communities to participate in conservation efforts.
In fact, Mr Singh advocates an expansion of tiger tourism as a solution to boost tiger numbers.
“Right now, out of a 600 sq km reserve, the government will allow tourism only in a sixth of the area,” he said.
Expanding tourism in reserves will provide more employment to local residents and diminish the temptation to make a living through poaching instead, he added.
“The government simply hasn’t harnessed the potential of tourism, as they’ve done in Africa,” Mr Singh said.
The temporary ban has already begun to hurt tourism. Daleep Akoi, the owner of Jim’s Jungle Retreat in Corbett National Park, said that his winter bookings from foreign tourists were “sparse”.
Unlike several others in the industry, Mr Akoi readily admits that irresponsible tourism is a problem.
“But the solution is not to ban it entirely. Instead, they should be suspending the licences of hotels that are illegally built in tiger corridors,” he said.
“So in a way, it’s a good thing that some regulation is coming.”