Cost to save the world's tigers: $10,000 each per year (or just pennies a day!)

Properly protecting the world's remaining 3,500 wild tigers from poachers, habitat fragmentation and other threats would cost just 42 percent more than is already spent on tiger conservation—an additional $35 million per year, or $10,000 per cat, according to a new study published September 14 in the journal PLoS Biology.
The money would be used to secure 42 vital "source sites," which the paper defines as "sites that contain breeding populations of tigers and have the potential to seed the recovery of tigers across wider landscapes." Local governments, NGOs and other donors already spend $47 million per year protecting these sites. The study says fully protecting the sites would cost $82 million per year.
India contains 18 of these source sites. Sumatra (in Indonesia) holds eight, and Russia has six more. Other sites are located in Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Laos and Nepal.
This plan wouldn't protect every tiger in the world, nor does it address specific tiger sub-species, but it would place priorities on which populations to protect in order to get the most conservation benefit.
The rapid decline of tiger populations over the last century may actually benefit conservation, to a degree. According to the study, 70 percent of the world's wild tigers are clustered in just six percent of their current range. With so many tigers in so few locations, protecting the "source sites" becomes both easier and more essential for the tiger's long-term survival. "Efforts need to focus on securing these sites as the number one priority for the species," lead author Joe Walston of the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a prepared statement.
So how about that $10k per cat? "The price tag to save one of the planet's great iconic species is not a high one," said Alan Rabinowitz, president and CEO of the wild-cat conservation organization Panthera, which also contributed to the study. It's true: People are already willing to pay up to $20,000 or more for an illegal tiger skin, so spending half that to keep a tiger alive is a no-brainer. (And that figure doesn't even include the black-market price of tiger bones, penises and other body parts sought for health treatments unsupported by science, etc., which brings the total value of a poached tiger carcass upward of $50,000.)
And then there's the spin-off effect of spending this money: new jobs to protect tigers and their habitats, more money from eco-tourism and healthier ecosystems due to healthy predator populations.
Where would the $35 million a year come from? It's a drop in the bucket in terms of the global economy. Heck, as Andrew Revkin of The New York Times points out, $35 million is just a fraction of the profits generated by Apple's OS X Tiger operating system over the years.
The study was conducted and written by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the IUCN, the World Bank and other groups. It was released in advance of a summit on tiger conservation that will be hosted by Vladimir Putin in Russia this November. (The summit was originally set to take place this week, but has been delayed until November 22-23.)

Leonardo DiCaprio to help save India's tigers

New Delhi - Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio will visit India soon to see tigers in the wild and promote global awareness about their dwindling numbers.
The Titanic star, who is an ambassador of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), met India's minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh in New York on Friday to discuss ways to get involved in tiger conservation, the Press Trust of India news agency has reported. In fact, DiCaprio teamed up with the WWF in May to launch a campaign called Save Tigers Now. Incidentally, September 26 is observed as World tiger Day. “He (Di Caprio) is very keen to work on tiger conservation. He wants to take on a more visible role. Somebody like him could play an important role in sensitising the global community to the cause of the Indian tiger,” Ramesh said. No date has been set yet for DiCaprio's visit but it is expected to be in the next couple of months. "Right now it is celebrity and a cause, let's take it from there," said Ramesh.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in  Inception
Warner Bros
Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'Inception'
Earlier this year, DiCaprio travelled to Nepal to see first-hand conservation programs aimed at increasing the estimated 3,200 tigers left in the wild worldwide. “Tigers are endangered and critical to some of the world’s most important ecosystems,” he said back in May. “Key conservation efforts can save the tiger species from extinction, protect some of the planet’s last wild habitats and help sustain the local communities surrounding them. By protecting this iconic species, we can save so much more.” India's endangered tiger population has plummeted to 1,411 ― just over a third of the 3,700 estimated to be alive in 2002. WWF India already has a massive campaign under way called Save Our Tigers.
In the past 100 years wild tiger numbers have declined 97 per cent. There may be as few as 3 200 wil...
Paul Mannix
In the past 100 years wild tiger numbers have declined 97 per cent. There may be as few as 3,200 wild tigers left in existence, the lowest number ever recorded. In India, only 1,411 are left according to an official estimate.

Tigers don't need wildlife boards to survive; they need to be left alone

I have been roaming in the forests of India for over 40 years and in the first 20 years, in spite of my best efforts the tiger or even its shadow eluded me.

Then, a few years ago I had a distant glimpse at Ranthambore. It either preceded me or showed up after I had left. Since I am a Leo, I was somewhat convinced that a tiger was reluctant to appear before a lion!

Nevertheless, for the last 30-odd years, photographing tigers in the wild has been my all consuming passion and temperatures of 46 degrees are no deterrent. I’m off to Tadoba-Andhari, a tiger reserve situated 155 km from Nagpur and 35 km from the mining town of Chandrapur in Maharashtra.

May and June are the ideal months to encounter a tiger at close quarters. In an open jeep, despite being garbed like a terrorist (head wrapped beyond recognition!), the hot winds blow straight into my face and the dust fully dyes my attire, merging it with the khaki landscape of the forest at this time of the year.

It is 8 am and the sun’s rays are like the needles of an amateur acupuncturist. But I am committed and it is only a committed person who will have the courage to venture under such hostile conditions.

The fear of dehydration is uppermost on my mind and I ensure that enough stocks of water and packets of rehydration powder are handy.

For the next 45 minutes we are patiently waiting at a waterhole for a miracle to happen. There is an eerie silence, punctuated by the occasional mating call of a cheetal deer. There is a rumbling of parched, dried teak leaves and my first reaction is to get the camera ready.

My eyes are focused in the direction of the sound. Suddenly the crumpling of the leaves stops and there is once again that old silence. Then suddenly the forest comes alive with the call of the sambhar, a perfect indicator of a tiger’s presence.

In a few minutes, a full grown two year old female cub emerges from the vegetation and heads straight to the waterhole, totally ignoring our presence in the jeep. We are just 20 ft from this magnificent cat.

A few sips of water, and it settles down to cool off in the muddy pond. It is a God-sent opportunity to be so close to it, in wonderful light and nobody else, except us. The shutter of my camera goes berserk;

Picture upon picture, capturing it’s every conceivable pose. The cub poses for us for a good half an hour and then with a few stretches walks off leisurely into the open. But not before marking its territory by first scratching itself, and then spraying on the tree (a rare sight).

This cub is one of three, and I am given to understand that by the onset of this monsoon, they will all separate from the mother, who unfortunately eludes us. We find the other two, however, blissfully having a nap under a thick forest cover.

The next evening, we are at the beautiful lake inside the sanctuary and set off once again to see the cubs and tigress. Dusk falls and after half an hour, a cute little 8 month old male cub emerges from the thick bamboo vegetation. He heads straight to its personal swimming pool and submerges itself.

This is one of four cubs I learn, and a notorious male. Generally, one cub in a litter is always more active than the others. A few minutes later a second one emerges and then the other two also. They all head for the pool, where their brother has taken centre stage. 

Karnataka first state to form dedicated tiger protection squad

New Delhi, Sept 21 (PTI) 
Karnataka has become the first state in the country to form a first of its kind dedicated armed squad for protecting endangered tigers. The personnel of the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) have already been deployed in Bandipur reserve, Karnataka Chief Wildlife Warden BK Singh said. The STPF is being set up under the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) according to which the company should comprise 18 foresters and 90 guards. The Force will be commanded by an Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) with three tiger force range officers under him. "We have appointed 18 foresters and 63 frontline guards who are being given training in forestry from September 15. It will take almost an year to complete the training," Singh said. After that they will be given rigorous training in the police and paramilitary courses, a protocol for which is being prepared by the NTCA. Members of the STPF will be armed with modern weapons and facility of telecom network. "We plan to appoint 30 per cent of the total forest guards (90) from among the locals to ensure better conservation," he said. The NTCA will also provide vehicles, arms and other equipment to the STPF personnel which will be entrusted with keeping a watch on tigers within the state as well as monitor the porous borders to keep the poachers at bay. Spread over an area of around 874 sq km, Bandipur sanctuary has been chosen out of Karnataka's four tiger reserves because it has a rich landscape. The vulnerability of the Waynad-Bandipur zone has also been taken into account. States like Uttarakhand and Rajasthan have issued notification declaring their intentition to set up the STPF which the Centre hopes will help in better protection of the endangered tigers.


Why is the Indian Government not doing enough! to adequately protect their National Animal: Tiger?
After Bali, is it going to be India? The last Tiger of Bali was shot dead on Sept 27,1937 by a big game hunter.
Watch it slung dead, here, as who knows? It would be India, next:
Why is the Govt. dragging its feet, even though the Tiger population is reportedly reached an alarmingly low level of only about 1140 or so ?
Why are officials responsible to protect the reserves; and poachers alike: getting away with their unbridled misdeeds?
Why can't we take all the reserves under Central Jurisprudence and Central Governance?
Are we not wanting our future generations to enjoy their natural heritage?
What happened to the Rs 600 crores that were set aside for conservation purposes in 2008; after the NDTV initiative, wherein 500,000 signatures of school children were presented to Dr. Man Mohan Singh; urging him to save the Tiger?
Why did we loose about 150 leopards in 2010;as reported by the press, recently.


2 tigresses to join ‘lonely’ tiger in Panna

Panna’s ‘lonesome’ tiger — spurned by two resident tigresses — will get two more partners to choose from. By the end of this month, two more tigresses from the Kanha National Park will be brought to Panna as the aggressive male tiger has attacked its mate and their four cubs, which were born in April, several times this month.
“Tigers are known to exhibit such behaviour when wanting to mate,” said R. Sriniwas Murthy, field director, Panna Tiger Reserve.
The tiger was brought to Panna from the Pench National Park in Seoni district last year when there was not a single tiger left in the reserve.
But it took a while for the big cat to get used to its new environs. A few months after its translocation, the lonely tiger began missing home and had even moved out of the park, southwards towards his original home at Pench. It had to be tranquilised and brought back.
Its mate was brought from Bandhavgarh National Park in Umaria district the same year. The two had mated several times before. But the tiger’s aggression this month seems to have put off the tigress. To make matters worse, the other tigress from Kanha National Park is also not responding to its sexual overtures. Park authorities, who are in a fix, have decided to augment the female tiger population in the park so that the tiger has more choices and the Bandhavgarh tigress and her cubs feel safe in the park.
“The forest department are planning expedite the translocation of two tigresses from Kanha National Park,” Murthy told Hindustan Times.
The Madhya Pradesh government has secured permission for translocation of six big cats — four female and two male — to Panna as part of the tiger reintroduction programme.
The two tigresses to be brought in from Kanha are siblings born in 2005. A territorial male killed their mother and they have been bred in semi-wild conditions. The translocation is likely to take place this month.

Lost tiger population discovered in Bhutan mountains

A "lost" population of tigers has been filmed living in the Himalayas.
The discovery has stunned experts, as the tigers are living at a higher altitude than any others known and appear to be successfully breeding.
Their presence in the Bhutan highlands has been confirmed by footage taken by a BBC natural history camera crew.
Creating a nature reserve around the tigers could connect up fragmented populations across Asia, preventing the extinction of the world's biggest cat.
Tigers are known to live in the Himalayan foothills of Bhutan, though little is known about them, or how many there are.

The fact they can live here is just so important, for tigers in the wild, for their future

BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan

However, leading tiger expert Dr Alan Rabinowitz, formerly of the World Conservation Society and now President of Panthera, a conservation organisation dedicated to safeguarding big cat species, suspected that tigers may also be living at higher altitude, following anecdotal reports by villagers suggesting that some were roaming as high as 4000m (13,000ft).
So, together with a BBC film crew, he decided to investigate by journeying to Bhutan to seek proof that such mountain tigers did indeed exist.
Dr Rabinowitz enlisted the help of BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan, who has filmed wild cats worldwide for more than 10 years.
Under Dr Rabinowitz's direction, Mr Buchanan trekked up into the mountains, where he then set a series of camera traps, that would automatically film any creature moving in front.

The team left the traps at an altitude of between 3,000m and 4,100m, above which trees start being unable to survive.
Three months later, he returned to see what they had caught on camera.
The cameras recorded a wealth of wildlife, including red foxes, jungle cats, monkeys, leopards, Himalayan black bear, tarkin, serow, musk deer and even a red panda.
This is the only place on earth known to have tigers, leopard and snow leopards all sharing the same valley.
It is remarkable to have these three big cats sharing their range.
Most extraordinarily, the cameras took footage of two wild tigers, one male and one female, a discovery that moved Mr Buchanan to tears.

The images are the first known footage of tigers in the remote mountains of Bhutan and the first hard evidence that tigers are capable of living at that altitude.
This find was made in close collaboration with Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, with help and guidance from forest guard Phup Tshering.
"The fact they can live here is just so important, for tigers in the wild, for their future," said Mr Buchanan, on seeing the footage for the first time.
The large male tiger, sighted at an altitude of 4,100m is recorded scent-marking, confirming that the tiger pair are living within their own territory, and not just passing through.
The female tiger, sighted at the same altitude, can also be seen to be lactating, strongly suggesting the tigers are breeding at that altitude.
Further footage shows tigers living lower at an altitude of 3000m.
The discovery, which is broadcast this week as part of the BBC One programme Lost Land of the Tiger was made by the same BBC team that discovered a new species of giant rat living on the slopes of a remote volcano deep inside the jungle of Papua New Guinea.

Dr Rabinowitz and the BBC team are not revealing the exact location of the tigers, in order to prevent them being found by poachers.
Tigers used to roam across Asia, now only pockets remain. There are estimated to be as few as 3,000 left in the wild, due to poaching and habitat loss.
The discovery of tigers living at altitude in Bhutan could be crucial to one scheme proposed to help save the species from extinction.
Known as a "tiger corridor", the idea is to connect up many of these surviving isolated and fragmented groups.

That would allow individual tigers to move between populations, allowing them to breed more widely, bolstering the genetic diversity of those surviving.
It would also offer some tigers sanctuary from human towns and villages and the increasing pressures they bring.
The Tiger Corridor Initiative, promoted by the conservation organisation Panthera, hopes one such major corridor could extend along the foothills of the Himalayas from Nepal into Bhutan and northern India, then through to Myanmar, stretching across 2000km with an area of 120,000 sq km. The ambition would then be to connect it to another corridor spanning Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, terminating in Malaysia.
"The significance of finding tigers living so high in Bhutan is that it means that huge areas of Himalayas, that people didn't think were natural places for tigers to live, can now be included in the tiger corridor," says Jonny Keeling, a BBC producer who helped track and film the big cats.
"Bhutan could act as tiger nursery from which tigers could breed safely and spread out to re-populate forests of some of the surrounding countries."
Lost Land of the Tiger will be broadcast on BBC One at 21.00BST on Tuesday 21st, Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd September.

Tiger cub dies, Bannerghatta toll rises to 5

BANGALORE: Another tiger died at the Bannerghatta National Park on Saturday taking the toll of big cats in the zoological park to five.The latest death was that of a three-month-old tigress.“The cub also died of salmonella bacteria infection found in Divya, the tigress that had died last Sunday,” principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), B K Singh said.Park officials said the cub was healthy on Friday morning but became dull in the evening. However, it had not shown any signs of infection, they said.“The night patrolmen found her dead when they went to check around 4 am,” Singh said. The carcass of the cub has been sent for an autopsy.Two tigers and two lions had died at the park over the last week. Officials had attributed three of the deaths to old age.

Tiger skin seized from post parcel at airport

CHENNAI: In a first, air customs officers at airport on Friday seized a tiger skin sent from London as parcel.

The tiger skin was 8 feet long from head to tail and 6 feet wide from leg to leg. The body was 2.10 feet in width, said a customs press release.

The parcel was detained by the air intelligence unit of customs under suspicion that it might contain contraband. But it turned out to be a tiger skin when the parcel was opened. The parcel was addressed to a person in Chennai.

Wild Life Crime Control Bureau has confirmed that the skin and skull is genuine and that it belonged to an Indian tiger.

Customs Commissioner R Periasami said the skin was seized after we found that it is a violation of wildlife protection Act. Investigation is on to trace the person who sent it. It might have been sent abroad from India  years ago, he said.

The Saturday Interview — Tiger Talk

Gowri Ramnarayan

CONCERNED ABOUT CONSERVATION Valmik Thapar. Photo: R Shivaji Rao
The Hindu CONCERNED ABOUT CONSERVATION Valmik Thapar. Photo: R Shivaji Rao
A vehement Valmik Thapar says there is no hope for our animals unless the forest service is completely revamped and more young people understand Nature
Belonging to a family of politically active, sophisticated intellectuals, adolescent Valmik Thapar escaped the din of the city, and went to Ranthambhore to make a documentary on the deep jungle. The retreat turned into a lifetime mission when he saw his first tiger standing on a ruined monument.
Today, he is India's best known ‘Tiger man', having spoken, written and screamed vociferously about India's national animal threatened with extinction.
Thapar speaks less loudly now, and with smouldering fire. His cynicism, a by-product of having battled against obdurate Governments and blind policies through the decades, has not snuffed out his passion for the mesmerising creature that walks through rapidly shrinking haunts.
Excerpts from an interview with the natural historian, wildlife documentary filmmaker, conservationist and author.
At what moment did you decide that the tiger was going to be most important in your life? And, any regrets?
For weeks, I was at Ranthambhore National Park, when the forest guard said a tiger had entered a walled complex ahead. In our midnight struggle to see this elusive creature, we plunged into the lake. Then, the tiger came up on the wall, and looked at us. A vision…? What keeps me going despite all the scams in this sector is the sheer power and beauty of this animal. My heart stops when I see a tiger, just as it did when I first saw it 35 years ago under the full moon.
I regret that I failed to intervene in the politics to persuade the powers to do more. The Prime Minister (I.K. Gujral) most empathetic to the tiger cause had too little time. Others who showed interest had other issues taking precedence. The trouble is that everyone sees forests as a source of revenue.
Why do you sound more and more pessimistic as you talk about saving the tiger?
In India, when the corporate world changed course, Finance Ministries underwent reform, created new regulations, amended laws. After 35 years in wildlife, serving on 150 committees of Central / State Governments, I know nothing has changed for the forest sector. Hundreds of files and documents reveal shocking governance of 20 per cent of our landmass.
You have been repeating this downhill story!
I've failed miserably. The people you repeat it to are part of a forest service, who don't know how to save wildlife or deal with rampant poaching, but who also want no change, no tourism, no projects involving local communities. So now I say — disband the forest service. Create a new service with new recruitment rules, syllabus, training and specialisation in forest regeneration, protection, wildlife management with community partnership. Without vision, we'll have nothing left to save. The system has to be overhauled.
Has any other country succeeded in such a drastic revamping?
Kenya. In 1980s, its wildlife was being wiped out. The President put wildlife expert Richard Leakey in charge of Kenyan Wildlife Service with the dictum ‘Shoot all poachers on sight'. Leakey's book “Wildlife Wars” says it all. Today 70 per cent of Kenya's national revenue comes from wildlife tourism. A small national park brings $150 million entry fee to two Masai councils each year.
With so many sanctuaries, can we develop ‘site-specific' land use policies for all?
I'm saying for the first time — you can't have 600 national parks and sanctuaries as we do — some only on paper, a 100 in Andamans and Nicobar that nobody knows or visits… I don't believe in restriction anymore. We must involve local communities to use tourism for conservation.
Cut down the parks. Leave local communities to manage an area with sarus crane and black buck; let a revamped Forest Department manage regions with carnivores. Let scientists study the results and shape better models.
But parks are not known to welcome scientists.
Forest Departments are afraid of whistleblowers. They lodged false complaints against Raghu Chundawat, when he warned that tigers were dying in Panna. Now they've spent crores to reintroduce tigers into the park. Jairam Ramesh has done a great job over Vedanta, but he is struggling with huge problems. There's no partnership between the State and the Centre. There's no delivery system either, without which we have no hope in hell.
Such menaces return when the Government changes. Tigers don't get votes for politicians to prioritise them. Is there any hope of awareness among the young?
We can't have an Indira-Rajiv yojana for the whole country. I'd have every school in districts around Ranthambhore teach courses in environment, wildlife. Around Jaisalmer, the focus has to be on what the desert gives you — music and culture. I've talked about this for 25 years. Nothing has happened. The new generation in the city, the town and the village doesn't have the empathy that old generations had with cultural symbolism. Fear of and respect for Nature vanished when the free market economy invaded India in 1990-91. The tiger is not devi's vahan for the young. With no mythology of Nature, it is easy for people to destroy it. Science has grown tremendously to understand Nature, but is not taught at the local level.
Are you treading new ground with your new book about the tiger as a cultural symbol?
For this visually-rich book, I've tapped the museums of the world to find amazing artefacts from rock art and tribal beliefs, showing how tigers have influenced and inspired man.

Emergency declared at Bannerghatta Park

Leaves have been cancelled and the staff has been asked to be on call round-the-clock following the deaths of two tigers due to a bacterial infection recently

AN emergency has been declared and all leaves have been cancelled for workers at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) following a series of deaths of wild animals recently.

The timing of the safari at the adjoining Bannerghatta National Park was also reduced yesterday  shutting it down at 3 pm as opposed to the usual 4.30 pm.

These steps have been taken to prevent the spread of a bacterial infection which is believed to be behind the deaths of a tiger cub on Saturday and four-year-old tiger Divya last week.

Emergency has been declared to prevent the spread of the infection to other parts of the park.
Notices have been pasted requesting the public and the media to not enter the enclosures of the
ailing animals in the park.

"An emergency has been declared and everyone will have to put in time as well as their best efforts to save the animals at the park.

We have told the staff not to take leave and be available on call whenever required," said Millo Tago, executive director and conservator of forests (BBP).

While the Sunday crowd was disappointed with the safari being delayed for two hours and then being called off by 3 pm, park officials justified the decision and said that it was necessary to prevent the spread of the infection to the other parts of the park.

With the safari vehicles having to pass through the area where some affected animals are being treated, the authorities felt the safari would disturb the animals as well as the doctors treating them.


The Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAH&VB), Hebbal, has confirmed that the tiger cub, which died on Saturday, had contracted an E.coli infection which led to gastroenteritis.

"The bacterial infection has been confirmed for all the affected animals but the reason for how it entered is not yet known.

The doctors are working hard and medicines and injections are given to the infected animals every six hours to bring the infection under control," said Tago.

Assistant Director, Veterinary Sciences (BBP), Dr B C Chittiappa said, "The blood report of seven-year-old Arya is normal while Minchu has tested positive for the infection.

Arya has begun to eat and the other six animals which were infected are also showing improvement."

Dhoni sets right Jharkhand, Uttarakhand tug-of-war ‎

Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni had decided to lend his name for tiger conservation on the lines of former captains Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid. His preferred choice for the Corbett.Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand, the state of his family’s origin, has landed him in a spot. Corbett is celebrating 75 years of existence and for the mega celebration in Ram Nagar, the state government had invited Dhoni.

The cause for his tiger trouble was his adopted state Jharkhand, which has a tiger reserve, Palamu and wanted him to be brand ambassador for the big cat promotion in the state.Jharkhand government had announced five acres of land for Dhoni in Ranchi after India won the cricket World Cup earlier this month and did not like the idea of promoting healthy tiger population of Corbett.Unlike Corbett, Palamu is in the poorest region of the state and have almost nil tourism revenues to invest on tiger protection. Palamu’s tiger population has not been very good as compared to Corbett. As per the latest tiger estimation Palamu has 16 tigers in an area of 771 sq kms as against 214 in 2,295 sq kms.“Palamu needs Dhoni charisma to revive,” said an environment ministry official.

Dhoni, known for his diplomatic ways in tackling cricketing controversies, has promised Jharkhand government to do his bit for promoting tigers of the state while keeping his promise with Uttarakhand government. Jharkhand has only one tiger reserve unlike Uttarakhand, where tigers are found even in Rajaji National Park.His decision has left foresters from two states and Environment minister Jairam Ramesh a happy lot. “A good reason to smile for tigers after healthy population increase,” Ramesh said.Dhoni is not the first cricket, whose love for tigers has impressed Ramesh. Both Kumble and Dravid had been in touch with him on tiger and wildlife protection issues.

Obama likely to visit Ranthambore

JAIPUR: US president Barack Obama, during his visit to India in November, is likely to go on a tiger safari at the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Although the final itinerary of Obama and his wife Michelle is yet to be announced, highly placed sources confirmed his Ranthambore visit.

According to sources, secretary of state Hillary Clinton may also accompany the couple. It was apparently at the suggestion of Hillary that the Ranthambore trip was added to the itinerary of the visiting president.

In March 2000, former US president Bil Clinton, his daughter Chelsea and Hillary's mother had visited Ranthambore and had sighted two tigers during the safari. Sources said that Hillary was thoroughly impressed by that experience and she suggested Obama's visit to the reserve, which has a population of 39 tigers at present.

However, Obama's daughters — Malia Ann and Sasha Natasha — will not be able visit Ranthambore, as they have their exams during the time. In fact¸Malia and Sasha were eager to see the place after the children of US ambassador Timothy Roemer shared their experiences of sighting four tigers in the national park.

Study: To save tigers, protect key breeding areas

A closer look JAKARTA, Indonesia Conservationists must protect tiger populations in a few concentrated breeding grounds in Asia instead of trying to safeguard vast, surrounding landscapes if they want to save the big cats from extinction, scientists said.
Only about 3,500 tigers are left in the wild worldwide, fewer than one third of them breeding females, according to one of the study's authors, John Robinson of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Much has been done to try to save the world's largest cat -- threatened by over-hunting, habitat loss and the wildlife trade -- but the numbers have continued to spiral downward for two decades.
That's in part because conservation efforts are increasingly diverse and often aimed at improving habitats outside protected areas, according to the study, published in a recent PLoS Biology journal. Instead, efforts should focus on the areas where tigers live -- most are clustered in just 6 percent of their available habitat -- and especially where they breed.
"The immediate priority must be to ensure that the last remaining breeding populations are protected and continually monitored," the study says. Otherwise, "all other efforts are bound to fail."
Conservation groups say the world's tiger population has fallen from about 5,000 in 1998 to as few as 3,200 today, despite tens of millions of dollars invested in conservation efforts.
The study identifies 42 key areas of potential. Eighteen are in India -- the country with the most tigers -- eight in Indonesia, six in Russia's Far East and the others scattered elsewhere in Asia.
The price tag for the plan, which would require greater levels of law enforcement and surveillance, would be about $82 million a year, the study says.

A Last Stand for Tigers?

With the number of wild tigers at an all-time low, a new study warns that unless conservation managers redouble funds and efforts to protect tigers in the few places they can still thrive, we may lose the world's largest cat.

1.-Julie-Larsen-Maher-2479-Siberian-tigers-in-snow-BZ-02-03-09.jpgSometime before dawn on August 22, 2009, three killers came for Sheila. Stealing past the main gate of Sumatra's Taman Rimba Zoo, the intruders climbed on to the roof of the tiger enclosure, tossed down a slab of poisoned meat, and waited.
Assured that the fearsome Sumatran female could no longer defend herself, they clutched their knives and scrapers and set to work. They sliced through the muscles of her soft belly, severing flesh from bone, and carved up the lifeless cat until just bits of intestines and a few ribs remained.
That poachers would target a captive tiger in a zoo offers a chilling view into the black heart of the illegal wildlife trade and testifies to the rising demand--and escalating price--for a piece of the mighty cat on the black market. Two years ago, tiger skins sold for up to U.S.$16,000. Today, according to data from the black market database Havocscope, a pelt can command as much as $35,000.

Video: Only 350 wild tigers remain in Asia's Mekong River region, according to a January 2010 report from the conservation nonprofit WWF, which says the loss is being driven by trade in tiger parts.
National Geographic (with WWF footage)
Nearly every part of a tiger--skin, bones, internal organs, eyeballs, claws, whiskers, even blood--can find a buyer on the black market. Where some people prize bone-infused potions for their reputed medicinal or aphrodisiac properties, others collect claws and other remnants as trinkets, talismans, and souvenirs.
The human taste for tiger parts may quickly push the species past the brink of recovery. In this Chinese Year of the Tiger, the number of tigers living in the wild has never been lower. The situation is so dire, say the authors of a new study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society, that saving the species requires a radical shift in conservation strategy.
The precipitous decline of the tiger has been largely driven by the demand for tiger body parts for traditional medicines and other products.

Photo by Kent Redford/via Wildlife Conservation Society 
Just a little over a century ago, an estimated 100,000 tigers stalked through the forests from Turkey to the Russian Far East. Since the 1930s, three subspecies of Panthera tigris--the Bali, Caspian, and Javan tiger--have vanished.
Beyond the relentless pursuit of poachers, the wide-ranging tiger must cope with ongoing habitat loss, a primary threat to nearly every endangered species on Earth. Since 1900, the species lost close to 95 percent of its numbers and range.
The critically endangered Sumatran tiger, with latest population estimates at 400 and dropping, struggles to survive amidst expanding oil palm and acacia plantations that clear prime tiger habitat in the rich lowland forests.
Agricultural conversion, logging (legal and illegal), and ongoing development in other Asian range states carve up the landscape, leaving fragmented, isolated pockets of forest too small to support tigers and their preferred ungulate prey.

A wild tiger photographed by camera trap in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Indonesia.
Photo by Wildlife Conservation Society
Calculating the number of solitary, wide-ranging carnivores is always difficult, but researchers think just 3,000 to 3,500 wild tigers, including about 1,000 breeding females, remain--that's a 50 percent decline since 1998, the last Year of the Tiger.
Clearly, argue the study authors, which include leading tiger experts from seven conservation organizations and universities, current management approaches have not reversed the decline of wild tigers. And time is running out.
Reinforcing Strongholds
Thanks in part to the success of tiger reserves set up in India and Nepal in the 1970s, many conservationists turned to protecting the broader landscape and creating habitat corridors to ensure genetically healthy, viable populations. But many scientists began to rethink this approach as increased demand for tiger parts coincided with lax security in the reserves--a situation made painfully clear when reports surfaced in 2004 that a Wildlife Institute of India team could not find a single Bengal tiger in the Sariska reserve, which had 18 tigers just the year before. And poaching in India has continued apace: 32 tigers were killed in 2009, according to the nonprofit Wildlife Protection Society of India, and another 39 so far this year.
With most tigers confined primarily to these small, protected areas, the authors of the new study argue, it's crucial to protect these sites. In a call to action, the Wildlife Conservation Society's John Robinson, executive vice president for Conservation and Science, and Joe Walston, director of the WCS's Asia Program, along with 19 other tiger conservation scientists argue that it's time to redouble efforts to protect tigers where they live--before it's too late.
In the study, the authors identified 42 "source sites" throughout Asia, so-called because they contain enough tigers to repopulate the wider landscape. Nearly 70 percent of the world's last wild tigers, including most of the breeding females, live in these sites, which cover just 6 percent of their current range--a sobering 5 percent of their historic range.

Location of 42 source sites, embedded within the larger tiger conservation landscapes (TCLs), areas that encompass the ecological habitats suitable for tigers. Click on the image to enlarge the map.
This illustration formed part of today's tiger paper in the journal PLoS Biology
To qualify as a source site, an area must have the potential to maintain over 25 breeding females, lie within an area capable of supporting over 50 breeding females, and already have an established conservation infrastructure and laws mandating protection. The authors found no such sites in China, which harbors one of the most critically threatened population of tigers, with fewer than 20--and provides the biggest market for tiger parts. India, Sumatra, and the Russian Far East have the most source sites, but only five of these sites, all in India, have healthy populations. Still, with the vast majority of tigers living in these areas, the authors argue, their protection is crucial to the recovery and survival of the species.
"We're especially worried about Russia and India," says Walston. "They hold the two largest populations of tigers, so any declines in their populations is a significant worry for the species."
Though long-term strategies--such as restoring the broader landscape, shutting down illegal trade routes and reducing the demand for tiger parts--are important, Walston acknowledges, they'll be irrelevant if the last source sites aren't protected. "We're at such a stage now that if we don't focus a disproportionate amount of our effort on source sites, all other strategies are bound to fail."
"This proposal might be the most pragmatic response to the tiger crisis that's ever been brought to the table," says former co-director of the Siberian Tiger Project in the Russian Far East Howard Quigley, who was not involved in the study.
Video: Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, hunt in the harsh climate of the Siberian wilderness where food is scarce.

National Geographic:
Last year scientists with the Siberian Tiger Monitoring Program reported a four-year decline in tiger numbers in the Russian Far East, largely due to poaching of the cats and their prey--a decline that paralleled reduced law enforcement. The same thing happened with rhinos, another species sliding into extinction at the hands of poachers. "When conservation efforts were geographically diffuse," Walston and his coauthors note in the paper, "cost-risk ratio greatly favored the illegal hunter. Only where protection efforts either were focused on small- to medium-sized areas or were well-financed did rhinos persist."
Desperate Times
"In many ways, it's a sad state of affairs for conservation," says Quigley, who now focuses on mountain lions and jaguars as head of Panthera's Western Hemisphere Felid Programs.
"If we protect tiger cores now, we can begin to think about tiger landscapes, tiger corridors, and intact ecosystems."
"Our greatest tiger scientists are basically calling for boots and guns on the ground. We used to call for more research and information, so we could build conservation plans," Quigley explains. "But their comparison to the rhino situation is not unfounded. We might still have rhinos today if we had really protected rhino core populations in the 1960s. We didn't, and we will likely never have true rhino landscapes again. If we protect tiger cores now, we can begin to think about tiger landscapes, tiger corridors, and intact ecosystems."
For Walston, it all comes down to protecting tigers and their prey, and giving them the space they need to live and breed. "We've just had a tiger in India in the South Western Ghats walk over 100 kilometers across a human-dominated landscape to another source site. Tigers can happily move across large areas to breed in other source sites." But the effort required to protect tigers is tremendous, he adds, as rising reports of poached tigers clearly demonstrates. "And that effort is impossible to do on a massive scale, especially in human-dominated landscapes."

Malayan tiger photo by Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society
Not only is protecting source sites pragmatic and efficient, Walston and his colleagues argue, it's also financially feasible. Protection would cost $82 million a year, they estimate, including increased law enforcement and surveillance to stop poachers, monitor tigers and their prey, and work with local communities. Decades of evidence shows that focusing on these simple interventions allows tigers to recover, Walston says. Range states already underwrite most of these costs.

The rest--$35 million--the authors hope to raise through initiatives that come out of the much-anticipated Tiger Summit, planned for November 20-24 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Sponsored by the Global Tiger Initiative, an international alliance dedicated to preventing the extinction of wild tigers, the summit will convene government leaders from 13 range states.
Having all the leaders of countries with tigers in one place offers an unprecedented opportunity to muster the political will to save tigers. When governments have decided that tiger conservation is a genuine priority, and invest the time, effort, and political will to protect tigers and their prey, says Walston, they can reverse the decline. "Eventually, we can build up tiger landscapes from source sites. The more robust the population, the more it's able to resist poaching and other threats."
Video: A tiger and two cubs captured by a camera trap on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are the first recorded evidence that the imperiled big cats are breeding in the region, conservationists say. (Video published January, 2010)
National Geographic (with WWF footage) 
The pressures on wild tigers, especially the illegal trade in tiger parts, shows no sign of abating. Just last month, airport security caught a woman trying to smuggle a two-month-old tiger cub out of Thailand in her suitcase. And although China passed a law outlawing domestic trade in tiger parts in 1993, the government reconsiders the ban each year. And it's no secret that the owners of China's notorious tiger farms--which house an estimated 6,000 tigers that the owners claim teach the public about tiger conservation--hope to reverse that ban so they can sell any stockpiles openly on the domestic market. (International trade in tigers, and other wildlife, is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.) Legalizing trade in farmed tiger parts, conservationists say, will increase demand and ultimately mask the illegal trade in wild tiger parts.
Walston and his colleagues hope to convince summit participants of the wisdom of a protection-based strategy, though he expects to encounter resistance. "Some people think that source sites are not enough in themselves. And we'd be the first to agree," he says. "But we're losing these sites. And what is unarguable is that if we lose these source sites, forget the landscape."
Quigley agrees. "In the end, tigers, and tiger habitat, have a price on them," he says. "We need a protection strategy, pure and simple, or we will not have tigers in the wild fifty years from now."

No foul play in animal deaths at Bannerghatta park: Acharya

There are 1,300 animals in the Bannerghatta Biological Park
Sixteen animals have died since January last

Bangalore: Home Minister V.S. Acharya, who held a meeting of senior officials of the Karnataka Zoo Authority and Forest Department on Tuesday on the death of four animals in the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) on the outskirts of the city, said that there was no foul play in the deaths.
Speaking to presspersons, Dr. Acharya, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, said that two lions — Lakshmana (20) and Shankar (23) — died a natural death, because of multiple organ failure, owing to aging. King, a 21-year-old tiger also died of the same reason. But, Divya, a four-year-old tigress died of gastroenteritis.
Post-mortem had been conducted and they were buried strictly according to the protocol formulated in 1997. He said that in some cases, the skin and nails would be removed and preserved before burying the animals. The case history of each animal that died in the zoos would be maintained.
He said that Divya was given antibiotics and 12 bottles of saline by two specialists. Another tiger had also been infected and was under treatment.
There are 1,300 animals in the BBP spanning over an area of 1,750 hectares. He said that 16 animals, including five tigers and lions each, died since January last. General sanitation was maintained in all the zoos in the State and the animals were being provided with clean water from the borewells. Periodic medical check-up was also done.
A zoo official said that the animals were not safe in the wild, where they are open to diseases and other difficulties leading to their death and injury. But, in the safari, they are taken care of and live till they died a natural death. Divya had not died due to suspended, pathogenic or chemical impurities in the water. The cause of the death could be stale food, he said.
Dr. Acharya said that zoo authority purchase 1,300 kg of mutton/beef daily at a cost of Rs. 9 crore annually. Carnivorous animals eat six days a week and fast every Tuesday. There are 150 tigers, lions, leopards and hyenas.

Two more tigresses to be translocated in Panna reserve in MP

Bhopal, Sep 15 (PTI) Two more tigresses will be translocated in Madhya Pradesh's Panna Tiger Reserve soon, sources here said. "We are going to get two more tigresses in two months in Panna," the Reserve Field Director R S Murthy told PTI today. Besides, one more tiger will be translocated later in Panna which is spread over an area of 543 sq km in eastern Madhya Pradesh. The two tigresses between age group five-six will be brought from Kanha Tiger Reserve, he said adding already they were having two translocated tigresses - one feline from Bandhavgarh and another from Kanha and a tiger from Pench Tiger Reserve. A translocated tigress in Panna gave birth to four cubs in May. As per the plan to revive big cat population, four felines and two tigers in all are to be translocated in Panna.PTI LAL ABC

Protest against tiger illness

After eight tigers at Bannerghatta Biological Park were diagnosed with diarrhoea on Tuesday, an environment and wildlife group protested and shouted slogans in front of the park gate.

The issue came to light after Divya, a three-and-a-half-year-old tiger died on Sunday night due to bacterial infection. The animals are likely to have contracted the infection from the meat they were being served. The situation was under control on Wednesday but most of them were put on IV drips and injections.

Offcials: 19 tigers dead in 13 months

With the death of a tiger in Pench Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, known as the 'Tiger State', has lost 19 big cats in the last 13 months. "A seven-year-old radio collared big cat was found dead in a lake at Karmajhiri range of Pench Reserve yesterday," the Park Director K Nayak said adding "the possibility of the tiger being poisoned can't be ruled out." The tiger was spotted on January 25 and was healthy he said adding that its viscera has been sent to a Sagar district-based labortary for tests.
The animal's body was dispossed off after post-mortem report that found its kidney enlarged, Nayak told PTI today. Two tiger cubs had died in the Pench reserve last month and the officials claimed it was due to severe cold. Last year, Madhya Pradesh lost 18 big cats including four tiger each in Kanha Tiger Reserve and Pench, three in Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. With the last death of the tiger in Pench, MP has lost17 tigers in different reserves besides two in the wild in last 13 months, officials said.Forest department officials claim that the deaths were largely "due to territorial fights among tigers and old age related problems."

Corbett Park officials seek people's help

Faced with mounting public anger over attacks by tigers in areas adjoining the Jim Corbett National Park, authorities have placed a cage inside the forest to trap the man-eaters and sought the help of people in tackling the problem.A woman was recently killed and three youths were injured in two separate incidents of tiger attacks in the sanctuary area, officials said. After protesting villagers blocked roads in the past few days demanding adequate safety measures, park authorities sought to mollify them and conceded to their demands by placing a cage inside the forest to trap the man-eaters."We have put in place a crisis management plan and two teams of forest rangers are now patrolling roads passing through the park to prevent any further attacks," Deputy
Director of the Park, Kabi Dayal, told PTI. He said morning walkers have been told to exercise caution on the main Ramnagar-Mohan road."We will write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for urgent compensation to villagers who became victim
s of the tiger attacks," said Madan Joshi, spokesperson of a local wildlife conservation group Bagh Bachao Samiti. Meanwhile, conservationists have expressed concern over delay in formation of a 'Specialised Tiger Protection Force'. There have been four unexplained tiger deaths in the park area and four leopard killings reported. On February 7, villagers allegedly killed a leopard after trapping it

Tiger attacks 8 people in Karnal colony

Panic gripped the residents of a colony here after a tiger strayed into the area and attacked eight persons.

The tiger, about three-year-old, was later shot dead by the police.

The wildcat suddenly appeared in the private colony near Karnal sugar mill and injured the eight persons last night, police said.The residents informed sadar police, following which station house officer Gorakh Pal Rana soon reached the spot with force. He then shot the tiger dead, they said.

The injured have been admitted to Civil Hospital.

They said the carcass was taken to Veterinary Hospital for postmortem

Tiger Reserve surrounded by coal mines

The 625 square kilometre protected forest in Chandrapur is home to over fifty tigers, a sanctuary shattered by the hostile coal mines that surround it on at least two sides.

Recently the Prime Minster wrote to Maharashtra asking it to notify crucial buffer zones around tiger parks because in the Tadoba Reserve there is a need for more space.It was in this crucial tiger corridor that the Adani coal mine was suppose to come up. The permission was denied by the Union Environment Minister but it continues to raise an important question: Why is the Maharashtra state government continuing to drag its feet for over two years on an important piece of legislation, something that will finally notify these buffer zones.

Buffer zones are specially notified areas around parks or reserve forests that are meant to divide the park from areas of human pressure.  This division is of vital importance as by law any activity like mining or others that destroy the habitat have to be kept at least ten kilometres from the buffer zone which helps protect the parks habitat.

Without this notification the Tadoba buffer zone is not yet legally out of bounds for mines and industries.While mining activity is Tadoba's biggest problem, over the last one year, the man-animal conflict has also escalated particularly in the eastern side of the reserve with 14 people and 4 tigers dead.

President, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust, Harshawardhan Dhanwatey says, "It has 60 odd villages and 20-25 years ago, the population was not more than 100/80 people. Today the population has gone up by three times. The impact of these people on Tadoba is quite a bit. Grazing is a big problem here because there is a lot of cattle that these villages own and it is contributing to the degradation of forest." All this increase the possibility of encounters.

"Unfortunately the status of the forest staff is not up to the mark. At present we have 5 RFO postings out of which 3 are vacant and we want to increase post of RFO, forest guards. Only 34 beats are there so average area of beat is very large. Almost, a beat guard has to protect an average area of 1848 hectares which is certainly a big area to protect," says Sanjay Thakre, Field Director, Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve.

It's a miracle that the tiger population has survived these man-made traps when it desperately needs man-made ecological fillip to thrive and grow.

Tigress dies in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

A 30-month-old tigress died in Madhya Pradesh's Bandhavgarh tiger reserve on Wednesday due to internal injuries.

"The tigress was around 30 months old and possibly died after sustaining some internal injuries in a fight with another tigress over territorial rights," Reserve Field Director C K Patil told PTI.

The tigress was found dead at Tala range of the reserve in Umaria district.

Patil ruled out the possibility of the tigress being hit by some tourists' jeep in the reserve.

Before the feline died it entered a water body in Tala range, Patil said, adding there was no external injury mark on the tigress' body.

Patil said the post-mortem of tigress will be done as per the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA) tomorrow.

Cyclone Aila ravages tiger territory

The Minister for Sunderban Affairs Kanti Ganguly has confirmed to NDTV that at least 400 acres of the mangroves have been affected. Sources have told us that tiger conservation personnel are out assessing the damage.

It is not just humans but the royal Bengal Tigers of the Sunderbans have also been badly affected by cyclone Aila. Their habitat, the mangrove forests lying in 24 parganas district, faced the maximum wrath of the cyclone.
A tiger has apparently been rescued in the Sajnakhali area.
The field heads are out to survey damage. The bigger crisis is that nearly 60-70 member field staff of wildlife dept and Sunderbans project etc is reportedly trapped without food and water.

Panna's vanishing tigers

The protest against relocation of a tigress from the Kanha National Park to the neighbouring Panna Sanctuary is getting louder. Politicians, hoteliers, guides - all are worried about the safety of the big cat. Panna has a notorious reputation - in the last six years tigers have virtually been wiped-out.

A recent report by Wild Life Institute said that there was only one male tiger left - if at all.

"It's a very critical situation in the park , the tiger was last seen on December 11. After that there has been no sign of him or his pug marks," says Kauhal Rai, Tourist Guide, Panna.Raghu Chundavat, Wildlife Expert, Panna, puts forth, "Over 40 tigers have vanished from Panna. An inquiry
should be conducted into where they have gone in the last few years, how they have died."But the state government is determined on relocation. One tigress form Bandahvgarh National Park has already found home there - Kanha is the latest source."So far we have signs of the presence of a male tiger. In case there is a problem, we will definitely find a solution," assures SS Pabala, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Madhya Pradesh.

Many allege that the pregnant tigress is being sent as a cover up to show that an existing male mated within days of tigress reaching the park. Why were there no attempts to radio collar the only surviving male tiger to ensure his safety and movements? Where have all the other tigers gone? How did they go missing? For now, these are questions with hardly any answers.

Soon, eye in the sky to watch over tigers

Microlites could soon join the battle to save India's tigers. Extremely light and costing just Rs 25 lakh, they can land in small clearings and help in evacuating the injured forest officials.

They are just some of
the steps being considered as new security measures for the Corbett National Park by Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh who inspected the National Park."Why cannot we get microlites for surveillance and monitoring and sensor to monitor infiltration into the park?" he said.

And its not just hi-tech these Van gujjars or forest dwellers, who have traditionally been living inside the forest, are all being shifted out. But the minister wants them to chip in.

The plan is to train them to join a tiger protection force being set up by the Centre."We know about the water, the animals and the forest," said Mustafa, one of the van gujjars.Ministers may not take inspection so seriously, but Jairam Ramesh did it. He sat on top of an elephant for inspection of the Corbett National Park. And he has promised to increase funds for security of this and other parks in the Park.

Where is Corbett's tiger protection force?

India's tigers are under threat, with just about 1,400 left in the wild. And with Uttarakhand's famous Corbett National Park losing its fourth tiger in a month, January 2010 has been a disaster for tiger conservation.
Corbett was considered relatively safe. But its 150 tigers seem to have lured poachers.Worried, the Centre sanctioned a fund of one crore to set up an armed protection force for tigers. A year and a half later, Uttarakhand is still to finalise recruitment procedures. Meanwhile, tigers continue to die.

"A professional protection force to preserve the tigers here is very important, because these are source areas," says Dr Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).The continued presence of forest dwellers, who live inside the park, is also a threat. The Centre had given 10 lakh rupees for each family to be relocated. But so far, the state has shown no compliance.

"The Government of India has already released a lot of funds towards tiger protection. It is now up to the state government to demonstrate that tiger conservation is an important issue," says conservationist Belinda Wright.

India rejects World Bank's tiger project aid

The environment ministry has decided not to accept the World Bank's aid for the tiger conservation programme. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) felt a World Bank project worth thousands of crores for relocation in forests should not be accepted as there are too many conditions.

The money was to be given for the relocation of Rs 1 lakh families. It would take about Rs 10,000 crore to relocate those living inside protected forests and sancturies but the NTCA says that it wants to go it alone.

The reasoning given for refusing the loan is that it would lead to intereference by the World Bank, thus forcing the hiring of foreign consultants at higher costs and even leading to corruption."We have a cordination committee of 22 organisations including the police and paramilitary forces to tackle poaching," said Jayaram Ramesh, MOS Forest & Environment.

On Thursday the Centre decided to have a daily count of tiger deaths and accept not just the explanation given by the states but also non-governmental activists.The year 2009 was a very bad year for tigers in India with close to 70 tiger deaths. According to statistics, in 2007 there were 1,411 tigers in the wild and in 2008 nearly 35 tigers died and it was 70 last year.

Tiger killed, eaten by villagers in Arunachal Pradesh

A full grown Royal Bengal Tiger was hunted down by villagers of Numuk in Arunachal Pradesh's West Siang district.

Villagers gathered around the tiger after the kill. The meat was then consumed by the people but even more disturbing is the information of a possible wild life trade racket flourishing in that area. The skin of the tiger was a
llegedly sold to a certain businessman from Assam for 1.5 lakh rupees."They must have gone for some small animal hunt and came across this tiger and killed it. It is about 30 km from Along. It was a heavy animal, even four persons could not carry it properly, you may have seen the picture. Gun ammunition was used to shoot. The skin was sold to some trader from Guwahati at Silapathar. Wildlife authorities talk about penalties but wildlife crime is going on. This is the season of deer hunting and deer is being hunted regularly," said Tapak Kato, an eyewitness from Namuk.

Prime Minister steps in to save the tiger

Alarmed at the high mortality of tigers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has written to Chief Ministers of three states asking them to take urgent measures to protect the tiger.

The PM has written to the Chief Ministers of Uttrakhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.He has asked these states to set up tiger protection forces.

While he wants Uttarakhand to regulate tourism around the National Park, he has asked Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to set up buffer zones around tiger sanctuaries.

This year, 15 tigers have died in the last three months alone. Last year, 60 tigers had perished while the normal mortality is half the number at about 30 tiger deaths.

Are tigers safe in Kaziranga?

Kaziranga World Heritage site may be one of the successful rhino conservation stories and has the highest density of tigers in the country today but there seems to be enough reason to raise an alarm with poachers residing just outside the Park and unabated mining activity blocking animal corridors.

Recently Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh spoke about tiger conservation."Kaziranga was never associated with tigers till December 2007 when it was declared it as a Project Tiger Area. The numbers that seem to come from camera trap seems to suggest tiger population of anywhere between 75-100 in a total area of about 860 sq kms which is probably the highest density per sq kms in the country," said Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh.

Ramesh added: "Kaziranga now claims to have the highest density of tigers in the country which is good as well bad news. It makes the Park very vulnerable with an already existing poaching network."Fourteen rhinos have been killed in this Park in the last one year.

"It's too simplistic to say that they will go for one particular animal and not touch tigers. Last year we lost 10 tigers and this year we have lost 2," said Dr Rajesh Gopal Member Secretary, NTCA.

Animals particularly the rhino often stray from the Kaziranga National Park cross these channels of the Brahmaputra and come on the embankment but what's worrying is the significant number of poachers and country made weapons that are present in these villages."In many areas there is a determined effort to finish off the tiger population. It is not coincidental, it's not an accident, there is a deliberate conspiracy, there is a conjoining of real estate mafia, mining mafia," said Jairam.

Such is the state of affairs, at the Panbari reserve forest adjoining the Kaziranga and an important animal corridor, there are 123 stone quarries on this fringe and some of them have been given license by the Kaziranga Park authorities.Kaziranga has a unique eco system and the tiger may be much safer here but with the park situated right on the international smuggling route, the pressure on wildlife will always be there.

NDTV impact: Buffer zone for Tadoba Tiger park

It is a big victory for NDTV-Aircel's Save our Tigers campaign. A day after NDTV ran a story on how the the Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra is fighting multiple problems in the absence of crucial buffer zone notification, the Maharashtra government has finally acted. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has now cleared the notification files, which means that activities like mining and industries will now be totally out of bounds in the buffer zone of the Tadoba Tiger reserve.

"Yes we have given clearances for some buffer zones. I have cleared the Tadoba proposal. We need to have buffer zones as suggested by the Ministry of Environment and Forests ( MoEF ). We are doing that," said Chavan

.This move will certainly go a long way in securing the 625 square kilometre protected forest in Chandrapur which is home to over fifty tigers, a sanctuary shattered by the hostile coal mines that surround it on at least two sides.

Bandipur bans night traffic to save tigers

The busy road between Mysore and Ooty is a busy tourist route, and is also a connecting road between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But it also happens to cut through the Bandipur National Park, and that's not such great news for the animals.

A huge number of animals, including a tiger, have been killed by vehicles over the years."Starting from 2004 to 2007, it was 91 mammals, 56 birds and 75 reptiles. We never expected the number of mammals to rise up to 91. It is higher than poaching," said Rajkumar, Wildlife Conservation Foundation. The DC of Chamarajnagar enforced a ban on night traffic through the park in June last year. This was lifted following objections mainly from traders in Kerala. The Karnataka High Court's intervention was then sought, and the night ban is now back in place."Bandipur is one of our best tiger areas and a lot of animals were getting killed on this road due to reckless driving. At night due to the lights that are used, the animals are blinded and get disoriented," said Praveen Bhargav, Trustee, Wildlife First.

NDTV drove to the main gate after 9 pm, and clearly not all human beings agree with the night traffic ban.
 "It is very difficult to carry load. A two day journey becomes a three day journey," said Ravi, a truck driver.

Conservationists believe in the national parks, animals need the right of way, and stopping traffic at night is a step in this direction.

Tourist menace in Corbett National Park

The night comes alive with loud music in the one place, it shouldn't. These are resorts edging India's oldest national park, the Corbett.

Illegal resorts, built on the forest's buffer zone are killing tranquility by blocking natural trails.''Tigers are intensely territorial, and each tiger can have a territory from 25-80 square kilometres. But with land limited and buffer areas increasingly being encroached upon, tigers often end up being poisoned by villagers or poached as they move out in search of new territory, food and water,'' said Imran Khan, Wildlife Expert.In February, the Uttarakhand Government had declared 466 square kilometres around the Corbett reserve a buffer zone where no commercial activity is allowed, but the decades of delay in arriving at the decision has taken its toll.
A clean-up will take years''I can tell you that the lack of progress on buffer zones is no accident, but deliberate so as to allow for development of such activities in the area,'' said Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment & Forest.

In fact, several states have been dragging their feet over declaring areas around tiger habitat's buffer zones.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, six tiger sanctuaries are awaiting buffer zone notification.
  • In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka three sanctuaries each are also awaiting buffer zone notification.
  • The same goes for two sanctuaries in Arunachal Pradesh.

"These are very, very important areas. By buffer we don't mean to elevate them to status of a park or a sanctuary. All that we are trying to do is to address the source and the dynamics of the tiger to reduce the dependency of the local people in the resources, which are there in the core areas of tiger reserves," said Rajesh Gopal, Head, National Tiger Conservation Authority.For the survival of tigers, buffer zones around sanctuaries are critical. These are areas tigers use to move from one forest to another. Ironically habitats of our disappearing tigers remain unsecured - caught in bureaucratic paper-pushing and profiteering.




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