WWF: Saving tigers should be the concern of all

PETALING JAYA: Animal trafficking is not an area best left to the experts but should be the concern of every member of the public, said Traffic Southeast Asia and Worldwide Fund (WWF) Malaysia in a joint statement.







Commending a public tip-off that resulted in the rescue of a tiger cub in Pahang recently, Traffic Southeast Asia and WWF encouraged the public to report any suspicious incidents involving the country's wildlife.






“All too often, trafficked tigers are seized only after they have been killed and butchered,” they said in their statement.






“Timely information from the public makes a world of difference and help enforcement agencies ensure these endangered animals stay alive.






"Without public information, who knows what might have become of this cub that was rescued two weeks ago.”






According to a Bernama report, officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Pahang, acting on a tip, raided a shop in Pekan on Oct 15 and rescued the cub.






The cub has since been sent to the Melaka Zoo.






Two people who stood to make RM30,000 from the sale of the cub were arrested. They face a maximum fine of RM6,000 or jailed for not more than six years under Section 65 of the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972.






Just 500 tigers left in Malaysia






Traffic Southeast Asia and WWF urged the authorities to find out about the cub's origins, and also determine if the two arrested were illegal poachers.






They also said that enforcement of the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) which comes into effect soon would deter hunters from using Malaysia as a poaching destination.






“Without deterrent sentences, poaching will continue and Malaysia will lose its remaining tigers to brazen thievery,” the statement read.






Once home to hundreds of thousands of tigers, Malaysia only has about 500 left.






WWF-Malaysia started a tiger-related project earlier this year. Known simply as TX2 (tiger times two), the project intends to double Malaysia's tiger population by 2022.






Members of the public who wish to report suspicious situations involving wildlife can call the Wildlife Crime Hotline managed by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) at 019 3564194.






The Department of Wildlife and National Parks can also be contacted at 03 88861585 or 03 90866800.






Poacher shot dead in Rajaji Park

Rajaji National Park director SS Rasaily said on Thursday that a forest department employee who was patrolling the area encountered a group of about a dozen persons armed with spears and firearms atop a ridge in the Dhaulkhand area which is part of the core zone of the national park. When challenged, one of them opened fire at the forest guard. The guard fired a round in the air to scare the intruders away. But the bullet hit a resident of Bullawala village, Babu Lal, who died, while others in the group escaped.

The director claimed that the group had entered the core zone with the intention of poaching and had taken Babu Lal along as a guide and for the task of skinning and cutting the animal that they poached.

The forest guard had fired in self-defence on Wednesday, it was stated. The RNP director said the man was part of a group of persons who had entered the core zone of RNP with the intention of poaching, especially tigers which are known to inhabit the Dhaulkhand area.

The police has, however, registered a case of murder against the Rajaji National Park director for the death of Babu Lal, because a large number of villagers had reached the site of the incident when the RNP director and Doiwala SHO were on the spot. Some of the villagers alleged that Babu Lal had gone to the forest to collect grass used for making brooms.

However, the RNP director denied these claims while countering the villagers’ claim that the men had entered the forest area to collect grass. According to Rasaily, it is strange that the group of persons carrying spears and a firearm travelled a distance of about 15 km from the village through rough jungle terrain and crossed a ridge purportedly to cut and collect a type of grass which is found commonly in various areas, including on the outskirts of the village. The Dhaulkhand area, which is part of the core zone of the RNP, is known for tigers.

The RNP administration also plans to file an FIR against the persons who were part of the group of poachers involved in the altercation which resulted in the death of Babu Lal.

U.S. urged to regulate 'backyard tigers'

The WWF and TRAFFIC say that there are yawning gaps in U.S. regulation of tiger ownership which could fuel illegal trade.While some tigers are housed in zoos, many more are privately owned, often free to roam backyards, urban apartments and are generally kept in "deplorable conditions," the report says.

(CNN) -- Rising numbers of captive tigers in the United States are putting citizens at risk and could be fueling illegal trade in animal parts, which threatens their survival in the wild, conservationists have warned.
"Tigers Among US," published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network estimates that there are more than 5,000 tigers in captivity in the U.S. compared with around 3,200 that remain wild across Asia.
Leigh Henry, WWF senior policy officer for Species Conservation told CNN: "We've seen photos and there's a video on our website showing tigers walking around muddy wet cages."
But its the size of the enclosures that is most distressing, Henry says, "when you know tigers are supposed to be ranging over hundreds and hundreds of acres."
Current U.S. regulation on tiger ownership is "a patchwork of federal laws" full of "exceptions, exemptions and loopholes," the report says.
A majority of U.S. states (28) don't allow citizens to keep tigers as pets, while 17 have laws which regulate their ownership.
"We want to know where all these animals are, who owns them, when they're sold and transferred, when they are born, when they die...
--Leigh Henry, WWF

But in some states there are no regulations at all, making it easier to own a tiger than to adopt a dog, with sometimes tragic consequences.
In 2003, a 10-year-old boy was killed by his aunt's pet tiger in Wilkes County, North Carolina.
In the same year, celebrity tiger handler Roy Horn (of Siegfried and Roy fame) was mauled during a performance at Las Vegas's Mirage Hotel.
Nevada and North Carolina are two of eight U.S. states (Alabama, Idaho, Ohio, South Carolina West Virginia and Wisconsin are the others) which currently have no laws regulating private ownership of tigers.
These yawning gaps in regulation could be resolved by implementing "a central reporting system and database run by the federal government and that would be required for all tigers in the U.S. without exception," Henry says.
"We want to know where all these animals are, who owns them, when they're sold and transferred, when they are born, when they die, so we have a better grasp on what going on with this immense population of tigers to ensure they are not filtering into illegal trade," Henry said.
It is hard to put an exact figure on just how lucrative the black market is, Henry says, but she estimates that a tiger broken up and sold in parts could fetch anywhere between $30,000 to $100,000.
Find out more about captive tigers in the U.S.
Some states, like Iowa, are leading the way. They recently implemented a ban on private ownership, Henry says.
"They put in this great regulatory system which requires DNA identification, photo identification and very strict deporting and registration systems for the tigers already in the state," Henry told CNN.
The U.S. is one of the world leaders in the promotion of tiger conservation but the U.S. also has a responsibility to manage tigers in its own backyard, Henry says.
"By clamping down on this issue, we can better cooperate with other nations holding large numbers of captive tigers to prevent trade in these animals from threatening their wild counterparts," Henry said.
This latest assessment updates a 2008 TRAFFIC report "Paper Tigers? The Role of the U.S. Captive Tiger Population in the Trade in Tiger Parts."
World leaders will gather in St Petersburg, Russia at the end of November for a Global Tiger Summit to discuss proposals which will further protect breeding populations, habitats and inhibit poaching and international trade.
Their long term goal is to double the worldwide tiger population in the wild by the time the Chinese celebrate the Year of the Tiger again in 2022.

Russian tiger summit offers 'last chance' to save species in the wild

The Global Tiger Summit in St Petersburg next month will bring together the 13 countries that still have wild tigers, along with conservation organisations, in an attempt to thrash out a global recovery plan. Britain and the US are also being urged to attend.

Leaders of the few remaining countries where tigers are still found in the wild are preparing for a make-or-break summit in Russia, which they believe offers the last chance to save the critically endangered animal.
The WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature) says it is optimistic about the summit's chances of success, but warns that failure will lead to the extinction of the tiger across much of Asia. The draft communique for the summit, seen by the Observer, notes that in the past decade tiger numbers worldwide have fallen by 40% and warns that "Asia's most iconic animal faces imminent extinction in the wild".
The rare Sumatran tigerIt concludes: "By the adoption of this, the St Petersburg Declaration, the tiger range countries of the world call upon the international community to join us in turning the tide and setting the tiger on the road to recovery."
The challenge was illustrated clearly last week when hidden camera footage showed the destruction of part of the Sumatran tigers' Indonesian forest home to make way for illegal palm oil plantations. Meanwhile, in Singapore undercover officers seized several tiger skins that had been advertised for sale online.
Organisers of the summit, which is backed by the World Bank, hope agreements can be reached that will lead to a doubling of tiger numbers by 2022. But some conservationists fear it is already too late and the summit will be another talking shop that fails to deliver results.
Tiger numbers worldwide have collapsed from an estimated 100,000 over the past century, due to poaching and human encroachment. It is now thought there are no more than 3,200 tigers in the wild, of which only about 1,000 are breeding females. The situation is so critical that four of the 13 countries attending the summit – China, Vietnam, Cambodia and North Korea – no longer have viable breeding populations, according to a study released last month.
The study – produced by researchers from Cambridge University, the World Bank and the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society – concluded that "current approaches to tiger conservation are not slowing the decline in tiger numbers, which has continued unabated over the last two decades".
It recommended that, rather than trying to save all the remaining tigers, governments should concentrate on sites that provided the most realistic chance of supporting a breeding population. "Conflict with local people needs to be mitigated. We argue that such a shift in emphasis would reverse the decline of wild tigers and do so in a rapid and cost-efficient manner."
The study will have made uncomfortable reading for the host nation. It found there had been a "dramatic decline" in tiger numbers in the Russian far east over the past five years – understood to be about a 15% drop – which it associated with a decline in anti-poaching enforcement.
The Siberian tiger – also known as the Amur tiger – nearly went extinct in the middle of the last century, when numbers fell below 50, but there are now thought to be more than 400 left in the wild. Suggestions that numbers have dipped again will not have pleased Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin, who will be hosting the summit and who has been keen to portray himself as a rugged protector of the animals.
In 2008 he accepted a tiger cub as a birthday present (the donor was never disclosed) and in the same year was at the centre of an extraordinary drama when it was claimed that he shot an Amur tiger with a tranquilliser dart to save the lives of a television crew. The team had been filming him taking part in a conservation exercise when the animal apparently broke free and charged.
But not only Russia is struggling to save the tiger. Earlier this year the Observer revealed how India's tiger population remained in decline, with some conservationists estimating that only 800 remained in the wild, significantly fewer than the official claim of 1,411.
Events in India in recent weeks have demonstrated just how great the challenge is. In the Panna reserve, which had to be restocked from other national parks last year, two young tigers have gone missing and are presumed dead. The human-tiger conflict for land was illustrated when three people in Uttar Pradesh, just 150km from the national capital Delhi, were attacked in an area not previously associated with tigers.
In Indonesia, a hidden WWF camera shot footage of a rare Sumatran tiger in the forests of Bukit Betabuh. Later, the same camera filmed a bulldozer clearing the area – apparently for a palm oil plantation – and then recorded the tiger returning to the scene of devastation.
But despite the gloomy picture the summit's backers remain optimistic. Diane Walkington, the WWF's head of species programme in the UK, said that considerable progress had already been made to sketch out a global recovery plan and to concentrate the minds of politicians on the problem.
"Tiger numbers can recover, but you can never take your eye off the ball," she said. "We are down to 3,200 and that is a really low number." The solution, she said, was international co-operation to tackle issues such as smuggling. She cited deals between China and Nepal as an example of how that can bear dividends. But she warned that, with numbers so low, the tiger would not get another chance. "I think that if this is not a success we will see tigers going extinct in much of Asia," she said.
Some conservationists worry that the summit is more about politicians wanting to be seen to be doing something, rather than tackling the issues on the ground, such as the encroachment into tigers' traditional territory by poor farmers in search of land.
Aditya Singh, a conservationist and wildlife photographer who spends much of his time among the tigers of India's Ranthambore national park, said previous summits had involved a group of leaders seeking answers to a problem they did not understand.
"There is little or no ground-level representation. As a result, the real practical problems never get highlighted," he said. "There is no link between field workers and conservation leaders. They do not even know each other's problems and the conservation efforts are not co-ordinated. Kind of like the climate summit."
The "tiger range" countries attending the conference are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Adopt a tiger @ 15,000

Want to adopt a tiger for a month? It will cost you only Rs 15,000. No, this is no joke. According to the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) latest scheme launched on October 1, 2010, to commemorate the Wildlife Week, animal lovers can adopt their favourite animals in the Late Rajiv Gandhi Zoo and Wildlife Research Centre, Katraj, for a limited period of time.

In return, during that period, they will get unlimited free access to the zoo. Their names and photos will be displayed near the beneficiary’s enclosure. That’s not all. The sponsors will also get a tax rebate on their payment.

This scheme has been implemented at the Mysore, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Delhi zoos. The range of sponsorship starts from Rs 4,000 and goes up to Rs 45,000.

Till date, over 20 different organisations and people have sought information about this project. But nobody has come ahead with sponsorships as yet.

Zoo statsThe 164-acre zoo is run by the PMC and gets financial aid from the Central Zoo Authority. The planning mainly aims at giving the 16 types of animals a natural habitat in an enclosed area.

Indigenous natural enclosures have been created for tigers, monkeys, sambar, bears and other animals. At least 2,500 to 3,000 people visit the zoo daily. This number goes up to 10,000-15,000 on weekends and holidays.

The sponsorship dealThe sponsorship charges cover the food and maintenance of the animal. PMC will display the sponsor’s name and photo near the adopted animal’s enclosure.

Sponsors will get unlimited free access to the zoo during that period. They will also get to travel in a battery-operated car, which will also be free.

Funds will be used for zoo devpt tooRajkumar Jadhav, deputy superintendent of the zoo, said, “We  have started this project from October 1. Over 15-20 organisations including individuals enquired about it.

People can also sponsor the entire zoo for a day by paying Rs 50,000. And all sponsors will be eligible for tax rebate. This project is running successfully in Delhi, Mysore and Hyderabad.

We will use the funds generated from this project for the development of the infrastructure in the zoo. Our revenue on weekends is Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 15, 000-20,000 on weekdays. The tally for 2009-10 is Rs 1.39 crore.”

R’than govt nod for mining near Sariska tiger reserve

Jaipur: The beauty of the Aravalliflanked Sariska Reserve may soon be a thing of past with Rajasthan government granting 40 new mining leases in the eco-sensitive zone, something that’ll leave the area pock-marked with quarries and pose a threat to an ambitious tiger rehabilitation project.

    The government sanctioned the leases on Tuesday on a plea that Aravalli range, where stone mining had been sanctioned, had contours less than 100 feet, which is not considered as a hill as per state government norms.

    Earlier this year, Supreme Court banned quarrying for stone in the Aravallis of neighbouring Haryana state, holding the mining companies guilty of violating zoning laws and not filling up excavated craters. Later it said some mining may be allowed but only when Haryana government adopts a mining policy based on an SC-appointed committee’s guidelines.

    While Rajasthan authorities have interpreted norms to their convenience to sanction fresh leases, their decision is seen as a setback to efforts to rehabilitate tigers in the Sariska as mining could damage the ecology of the region and jeopardise the survival of big cats. Five tigers have already been relocated to Sariska from Ranthambore and forest officials plan to shift more in the coming months.

    Reports suggest the new leases have gone to a few Haryana-based companies at villages such as Jaisinghpura, Malana, Goverdhanpura, Palpura and Jamwa Ramgarh, in the vicinity of Sariska sanctuary.

    “This shows how powerful and manipulative the mining lobby is. While the department of mines and geology and forests are justifying their decision on the grounds that the hills are less than 100m in height, they should know that there is no such classification by the Supreme Court. This is the department’s own creation and a gross violation of Forest (Conservation) Act 1980,’’ said Y K Singh Chauhan, conservator of forests, ministry of environment and forests.

    However, V S Singh, principal secretary, forests and environment, who heads the special committee on Aravalli Notification in Alwar, claimed new leases will not disturb forest areas and are not near any water body.

    The Supreme Court had on April 8, 2002, restrained mining in Aravallis and forest areas in Rajasthan where permission had been accorded after Dec. 16, 2002, pending further decision.

    While the SC specified that all lease renewals would be considered as fresh applications, the Rajasthan government chose to interpret it to their convenience and went ahead renewing leases without requisite permission from the ministry of environment and forests.

Mining threat looms over Sariska tigers

Jaipur: Putting a question mark on the ambitious Tiger conservation project in the Sariska Tiger reserve, the Rajasthan government has approved 40 new mining leases in the Aravallis.

The fate of big cats, about which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed concern, hangs in balance following the controversial move by the Congress government in the state. Sariska has a total of five tigers – relocated from the Ranthambore national park.


As per a report published in a newspaper Thursday, the government has given its green signal to mining in the sensitive zone on the premise that the Aravalli range is less than 100m in height, which is not considered a hill as per state government norms.

Importantly, the Supreme Court had banned all sorts of mining/quarrying activities in the Arvallis in neighboring Haryana.

The news report, quoting Y K Singh Chauhan, conservator of forests, ministry of environment and forests, further says that approval of the licenses is indicative of the extent of the reach of the mining lobby and is a gross violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980.
If corrective actions are not taken soon, the national animal roaming freely in the beautiful Sariska Reserve may soon become a rare site.

NTCA panel to visit Bander project on Friday

NAGPUR: The three-member NTCA committee of experts will examine the proposed Bandar Coal Mining Project by the Bander Coal Company Private Limited (BCCPL), Mumbai, in Chimur tehsil of Chandrapur district on Friday.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on July 2 this year had appointed experts Urmila Pingle, Kishor Rithe and GN Vankhede to do a site appraisal of coal sector, thermal power project proposals vis-Ã -vis the buffer-corridor areas of tiger reserves in Central India. However, Bander was left out that time. The same panel was also asked to examine proposed Bander mines.

Pingle has communicated her inability to participate due to other assignments. However, Vankhede and Rithe would be conducting the site visit on October 8 at 10am. The members will consult officials, stakeholders and project proponent at Chandrapur. The panel will later visit the proposed site.

On Saturday, the members will reach Chhindwara at 10am and examine proposed sites of Tandsi III and Tandsi III extension underground coal mine project (0.4 MTPA) of Mideast Integrated Steels Ltd in Chhindwara district. The project is coming up in 326 hectares.

A lot of hue and cry was raised after Bander coal blocks, near Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), were not included for inspection in the 15 projects in Chandrapur district and Chhindwara that were examined by the NTCA panel two months ago.

The BCCPL was allotted coal blocks for Bander underground and opencast mines on May 29, 2009 to extract 175.110 million tonnes of coal. Although the proposed mining area falls in Brahmapuri Forest Division, the underground and opencast mine are 7.5km and 9km from the TATR boundary.

Maneater on the prowl, mauls 3 in Mathura

NEW DELHI: Barely 150km from Delhi, near Mathura, a lone tiger mauled three people in the village of Satah on Monday morning. Not only did the incident terrify residents but also caught forest officials and other experts off guard as this was definitely not a known tiger territory.


The forest department, with help from Wildlife SOS Delhi, set up traps to catch the animal on Monday but were unsuccessful. "We are also expecting help from the Rajasthan wildlife department. While nothing is confirmed so far, the tiger probably strayed from the Bharatpur area since it is the closest known place that can support a tiger population," said Kartick Satyanarayan, director, Wildlife SOS.


According to sources, the animal was spotted around 6am on Monday, around 1km from the highway. "The Satah village area mostly consists of fields. The animal was probably seen when it was crossing from one field to another. Initially, it attacked the first person it saw in the field and then attacked others as they came to rescue the injured person. Three people have sustained serious injuries. However, it doesn't seem to be a maneater and probably attacked in defence since it has used only its paws and not its teeth," said Dr K L Meena, DFO, Mathura.


According to reports, the entire area has been fenced off but angry villagers broke through the barriers to attack the animal. Police had to be brought in to manage the situation. Meena added that traps had been laid to catch the big cat. "A goat has been used as a bait and our men are stationed on a neem tree near this cage. We are hoping to sedate the animal," he said.


While not too many details were available about the gender or age of the animal, experts said that this was definitely a transient tiger. "I don't have details with me but if this is a sub-adult or juvenile, it could have been displaced either in a turf war or was out to hunt and got marooned in the area. However, it is most probably from the Bharatpur area. We have had reports of tigers being sighted in Bharatpur but never this far," said Satyanarayan.


Meena agreed, adding that the animal could have also come from as far off as Madhya Pradesh.

Wildlife board bats for big cats

New Delhi: The reconstituted National Board of Wildlife’s standing committee on Wednesday rejected 13 of the 32 proposals put before it for using national parks and wildlife sanctuaries or areas around them for other projects.
    The board, headed by the Prime Minister, is the apex body on wildlife issues under the Wildlife Protection Act. Its standing committee, which includes wildlife experts and naturalists from outside the government, is empowered under the Act to clear all projects that require land within the wildlife parks and around them.
    The reconstituted standing committee includes Brijendra Singh, M K Ranjitsingh, Divyabhanush Chavda, A J T Jonsingh and Prerna Bindra, besides representatives of Bombay Natural History Society, Satpuda Foundation and Nature
Conservation Foundation.
    The Union environment and forests minister is the chairman with director of Wildlife Institute of India and director general, forests, as official members.
    The standing committee cleared all except two proposals from Madhya Pradesh — 10 of them requesting upgradation and construction of roads through national parks and sanctuaries. The sanctuaries to be impacted in Madhya Pradesh include Bandhavgarh national park, Durgawati sanctuary, Bagdara sanctuary, Orcha sanctuary, Madhav national park and Panpatha sanctuary.
    The road-related proposals were cleared on the pre-condition that no black topping would be allowed on them, their alignment and expansion wo
uld not be permitted and the committee would make site visits to each of the project sites. One of the significant projects which the standing committee rejected was the 96 mw Lethang hydro-electric project in West District of Sikkim, which threatened to wipe out the sacred lands of the Bhutias and Lepchas in the northeastern hill state.
    The meeting also discussed the contentious issue of declaring lands within 10 km of national parks and sanctuaries as eco-sensitive zones where development activity can be checked.
    The states have been opposed to the move despite Supreme Court orders on the same as in many cases it could impact a very large number of people.


Bengal sceptical about canal project passing through forest

The West Bengal Government has expressed reservation over the proposed Sankosh-Teesta canal project which will pass through Buxa Tiger Reserve and other wildlife sancturaries in north Bengal, saying it will cause disturbance to wildlife and damage biodiversity. "The entire area is part of Eastern
Chief wildlife warden of the state S B Mandal said the state government had conveyed its objection to the Union Forest and Environment Ministry about the project's proposed alignment.
Saini, also field director of the Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR), said Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh, who had visited north Bengal early this month, assured forest officials that the project would not be allowed through BTR.
Saini said recently a team of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education wanted to carry out a survey for environment impact assessment in BTR, but it was told by the chief wildlife warden that permission for any kind of survey in national parks and sanctuaries could only be awarded by the Union Environment and Forest Ministry.

"Jhurjhura tigress" dies revealing government apathy

An NGO, “Udai”, led by Shehla Masood, a wildlife activist has been seeking action against those who were responsible for the death of a tigress in the famed Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in the central Indian province of Madhya Pradesh (MP). She handed over a memorandum to the chief minister on the International Tiger Day for action against those responsible for the death of the tigress. The memorandum had more than 36000 signatures on it. The tigress died on 19th may, 2010 after having been hit by a vehicle the night before when some so-far-unidentified important visitors entered the Reserve for an allegedly unauthorised and illegal night-drive. It died in the Jhurjhura area of the Reserve and, hence, has since come to be known as the “Jhurjhura tigress”.


 The killing caused a furore in India and abroad. According to the member-secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), enough evidence was available to indicate that two vehicles were involved in the accident. The vehicles entered the Reserve after the closing time at 9.30 PM and, unofficial reports indicate, carried sons of two state ministers who are one-time princelings. Wielding their power and influence they squelched proper investigations. Vociferous demands, including even from the central Ministry of Forests & Environment (MOEF), for a Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) were ignored. The State’s Forest Department handed over the investigations to the provincial Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Keen observers of the ways of the State said that this was done only to effectively put a lid on the case. That is apparently true as the investigations have led nowhere even after five months and the culprits have remained unidentified.

The death of the “Jhurjhura tigress” has been dwelt upon in some detail only to indicate the attitude of utter indifference of the state government, especially its Forest Department, towards protection of tigers. These are the days of declining tiger numbers and every piece of news about them makes it to the media. Sighting of new-born cubs or deaths – natural or due to internecine fights – and even mating or refusal to do so, by relocated tigers, all make it to the media in fair amounts of detail. There are any number of non-governmental organisations that are running campaigns with a view to raising awareness about the need to save tigers. Clearly, there is visible desperation about the plummeting tiger numbers in the country. In the midst of all this almost universal concern the brazen apathy of the State that has given to itself the sobriquet of “The Tiger State” is insensitive, even jarring and bizarre.

This is more so because its recent record in tiger conservation is none too satisfactory. Only last year the Panna Tiger Reserve lost all its tigers. Despite a very early warning – in 2004-05 –by a long-time researcher of Panna tigers, RS Chudawat, and later repeated warnings by central teams of professional tiger-watchers from various tiger conservational organisations such as NTCA , the Central Empowered Committee constituted by the Supreme Court, etc. were not paid heed to. The State’s forest bureaucracy obdurately ignored them and remained in denial mode.

 The Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the MOEF to enquire into disappearance of tigers from Panna severely indicted the State and its officials for failure in various areas of tiger conservation. Not to be outdone, the Forest Department set up its own investigative team under the chairmanship of a retired principal chief conservator of forests. Its report blamed the disappearance of tigers on emergence of a skewed sex-ratio with males outnumbering females that induced the latter to migrate out of the core area into the buffers only to be poached. The report did an excellent cover-up job and did not fix responsibility on anybody. In fact, none has so far been held accountable for the loss of Panna tigers. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), the most articulate and vehement in denying absence of tigers in the Reserve till the forest minister admitted in in the State Assembly, was only moved out for a while and was promptly brought back as soon as the State-level panel submitted its report.

The lackadaisical attitude of the State’s forest department was further evidenced by disappearance of tigers from the Sanjay National Park in Sidhi District which once hosted 30-odd tigers and now don’t seem to have any. A Panna-like revival is on the cards but would be successful only if proper care is taken. Even in Panna two cubs born of a recently relocated tigress went missing and are now presumed to be dead. Again, a sub-adult tiger was crushed in April 2009 in the Bandhavgarh Reserve under the wheels of a tourist vehicle that gained entry because of lax control-systems in the Reserve.

 Worse, the government nonchalantly gave approval to the widening of a highway connecting Nagpur with Seoni that cuts across the corridor that the tigers and other wildlife use to commute between the Kanha and Pench tiger reserves. The road, in any case, had fragmented their habitat, and yet the government gave the approval unmindful of the impact it would have on the tigers and other wildlife. The government’s apathy is also reflected in its apparent lack of enthusiasm to protect and nurse the tigers that have recently been discovered in Madhav National park in Shivpuri and in the jungles around Dewas. Apparently some tigers still survive outside the protected areas which need to be nursed and nurtured and a hawk-like watch needs to be kept over them.

It’s not that the government and its foresters do not know what needs to be done. They know it all having been in the profession for decades. Only they have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and shun one-upmanship vis-a-vis their counterparts in various central tiger organisations and institutions towards whom they have adopted an adversarial attitude. After all, in so far as tigers are concerned the objectives of both are the same.

The Forest Department will also have to shed its obsession with tourism. That unrestricted tourism is a bane for the tourist sites, especially the national parks, is being increasingly appreciated. The infamous tiger-shows that virtually corral tigers and the department’s new initiatives of monsoon and eco-tourism with forest patrols may fetch revenue but are not conducive to conservation. Animals also need to be left to themselves, at least, for some time.

The need for escalated efforts to protect wildlife cannot be overemphasised. While higher posts are promptly filled up those in subaltern levels have remained unfilled. Recent regularisation of part-timers has not helped as most are above 45 years in age. The need is of revised recruitment policies for induction of young and energetic guards, properly equipped and armed to enable them to actively participate in the fight to save tigers, a fight which, as commented by an official of Wildlife Trust of India, is increasingly being “fought only with the generals but no soldiers”.

Above all, what is required for saving the tigers is political will as that will bring in its wake a change in attitude of the bureaucracy, including the foresters. This was exemplified by Indira Gandhi whose initiative in launching the Project Tiger brought in a remarkable attitudinal change among the officials. As wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright says, “If CMs (chief ministers) are on board there will still be some hope”. Unfortunately in MP, the CM is not yet “on board” and at the bureaucratic helm are those who (over)saw the disappearance of tigers from Panna. Clearly, tiger is under threat in the “Tiger State”.

Did poachers get another tiger?

Forest officials trace bloodstains; Jalgaon villagers claim to have heard cat's painful
roar


THE roar of yet another big cat has been muffled.

One more case of tiger poaching was reported in the state by the forest department in Jalgaon on October 6,
bang in the middle of the Wildlife Week observed from October 2.

Since an eyewitness claimed to have seen poachers kill a big cat, locals in Jalgaon have been on the prowl for the last six days, trying to track down the poachers.


The bloodstains and pugmarks were found from the site where a big cat was killed in Jalgaon

The eyewitness, a teacher and Ayurveda practitioner who claimed to be in the forest looking for medicinal herbs, also said that two cubs had gone missing.

"We received a call from the teacher, informing us about the death," Wildlife Warden of Jalgaon district, Abhay Ujagare, who was the first to reach the spot, told MiD DAY.

"When we reached the spot, all we found was a few bloodstains, but could not trace any other circumstantial evidence."

According to estimates, India has barely 1,411 tigers left. If the latest disappearance of the tiger and two cubs is confirmed, the number would be down to 1,408.

"The eyewitness told us that the poachers killed the tigress and the cubs had gone missing. Locals too said they had heard the tigress' painful roars," said Ujagare.

Happens often

"Such poaching is not rare in Jalgaon where leopards and cheetahs fall prey to poachers," said General Secretary of Khandesh Nature Conservation, Vinod Patil.

Confirming the incident, Deputy Conservator of Forests Sarfaraz Khan said, "Our investigation is going on.

It will be difficult to say anything as we do not have much evidence. Neither the animal's skin nor any other evidence was found at the spot.

All we have is blood samples, which have been sent to Hyderabad for examination. Also, we have found pugmarks at the spot."

National Wildlife Board member Kishore Rithe told MiD DAY that reports of bloodstains collected from the spot were awaited from a laboratory in Hyderabad.

"It is shameful that poaching continues in India despite tigers on the verge of extinction," he said.

"The government needs to zero in on people who get these poachers to commit such crimes.

For a little money, they're killing tigers, which are already extinct in the state," said WWF's interim state director, Dr Goldin Quadros.

1,411
The number of tigers left in India, according to the last tiger census in 2006

88
The number of tigers killed between 2007 and 2009

Leo for tigers
Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio will put his fame to work to raise global awareness about India's dwindling number of tigers.

DiCaprio and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh met at a reception in New York last month.

"The actor expressed his interest to play a crucial role in sensitising the global community to the cause of the Indian tiger," a senior environment ministry had said.

Legal View
IN a case relating to seizure of leopard skin in 1995, a Delhi court sentenced poacher, Sansar Chand, to six years imprisonment two months ago, saying such an offence should be dealt with "iron hands".

A penalty of Rs 50,000 was also imposed on him while awarding the maximum jail term prescribed under the Wildlife Protection Act.

Illegal mining threatens Sariska

JAIPUR: Despite crores being spent in the name of conservation and Project Tiger, illegal mining activity is back in full gear in the protected area of Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary.

"Rampant mining is going on at Jaisinghpura, Malana, Goverdhanpura, Palpura and Jamwa Ramgarh, in spite of the Supreme Court's 1991 order banning mining in the area. After SC's order, 215 mines were closed. But recently, some of them have restarted activity in the middle of the sanctuary," said Rajender Singh, the waterman of Rajasthan, whose NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh had filed the writ petition in the apex court.

Singh added that these villages fall in the protected area and are a rich reservoir of dolomite. "Nearly 30-40 mines have begun operation again, some of them run by leading names in the industry," he said. According to Singh, mining had picked up in Project Tiger area's buffer zones and was causing irreparable damage to tiger habitat and the sanctuary's ecosystem. "Mine owners' money and muscle power has made officials and politicians turn a blind eye to the illegal activity," said Singh who claimed he was attacked thrice by the mining mafia.

Confirming Singh's statement, Delhi-based Tarun Kanti Bose, who has done extensive research on mining in Rajasthan, said, "While public sector mines remain closed as per the apex court's ruling, many mines in the unorganized sector have again started mining marble in the belt, which has good deposits."

In villages like Tilwad and Tilwadi in Alwar, marble mining operations are taking place right in the middle of the villages on private agricultural land. Many large landholders in the villages are today keen on selling their agricultural land as they are getting high returns for it, he said. "Mining is expanding rapidly in an area which has some of the most fertile lands with plenty of water," said Tarun.

Tarun said in all the big mines operating in Sariska, local people seem to be playing the roles of contractors and middlemen. They are also employed as cashiers and administrators. "Ranges in Sariska are covered with densely forested slopes, home to the tiger and other wildlife and an entire ecosystem. But it is fast dwindling with mining and other commercial activity," he said.

Camera catches bulldozer destroying Sumatra tiger forest

Jakarta, Indonesia — A video camera trap installed by WWF and partners has captured footage linking the destruction of a crucial Sumatran tiger forest to the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia’s Riau Province.

Videos and photos captured in May and June 2010 – released to the public for the first time today – caught a male Sumatran tiger walking straight to a camera and sniffing it.


A week later, the heat-activated-video camera trap documented a bulldozer clearing trees for an illegal palm oil plantation in the same exact location. The next day, the camera recorded a Sumatran tiger walking through the devastated landscape.




Bukit Batabuh, where the film was taken, was classified as a protected area by Riau Province in 1994, and categorized as a limited production forest based on Indonesia’s 1986 Land Use Consensus, meaning no company can legally exploit the forest.

Clearing forest most likely illegal


“Because of its status, both as a protected area and limited production forest, the area cannot be developed as a palm oil plantation, therefore any forest clearence —including bulldozing activities to clear the path — strongly indicates this excavation was illegal,” said Ian Kosasih, WWF-Indonesia’s Director of Forest and Species Program. “The law should be enforced in this matter.”

“And to stop illegal activities such as this, the palm oil industry should not source its material from farmers or producers who develop their plantations illegally.”

Since mid-2009, WWF has installed video camera traps in Bukit Batabuh to study Sumatran tiger distribution, habits, and threats they are facing. The wildlife corridor connects Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve and Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, making it a crucial area for tiger conservation.

This area is an important habitat for Sumatran tigers


“These video camera traps show that Bukit Batabuh area is an important habitat for the Sumatran tiger in Riau, functioning as a wildlife corridor between Bukit Tigapuluh and Rimbang Baling Tiger Priority Landscape, hence it becomes a priority area for tiger conservation,” explained M. Awriya Ibrahim M.Sc Director of Investigation and Forest Protection, Ministry of Forestry.

“Forest clearance in this area threatens this endangered species because it reduces natural habitat and consequently increases human-tiger conflicts, an unfortunate consequence for both sides. Therefore, we encourage all stakeholders—namely provincial and district level government, business sectors, and communities—to support protection for this landscape. The Ministry of Forestry is investigating this matter and will take strong measure in law enforcement, if this activity is proven violating the law.”

Previous footage documents tigress and cubs only 200 metres from this location


The location where the tiger and bulldozer were documented by video in May 2010 is only 200 meters away from a video camera trap which captured a tigress and her cubs passing by in October 2009. ( Watch video)

Indonesia has adopted protection for critical tiger habitats as part of its commitment to the Conservation Strategy and Action Plan for Sumatran Tiger 2007, and the National Tiger Recovery Plan, delivered at the Pre-Tiger Summit Partners’ Dialogue Meeting in Bali, in July 2010.

During the Bali meeting, which was attended by government delegates from all13 tiger range countries, a strategic plan to achieve an overarching goal of doubling wild tiger populations by 2022 was discussed. The plan is expected to be ratified by heads of government at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, scheduled for 21-24 Nov. 2010.

“The Indonesian government’s commitment to improve protection for its biodiversity—including an ecosystem-based land-use planning delivered in international fora like the Pre-Tiger Summit Partners’ Dialogue Meeting in Bali last July, and upcoming Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October —should be supported by stakeholders in provincial or district levels especially on the issue of overlapping land-use planning,” explained Chairul Saleh, General Secretary of the Sumatra Land Use Forum (ForTRUST).

Saleh said sufficient prey and protection for the remaining wild Sumatran tiger populations will allow the species to procreate and provide it with an intact home range and habitat that will minimize incidents of human-tiger conflict.

“Bearing this in mind, a revision of Riau’s Provincial Land Use Planning—based on sustainable development principles adhering to ecosystem preservation and accomodating the tiger’s habitat—is crucial.”

Land clearing practices for palm oil plantations in the area have been going on for some time, pushing the tiger to have close contact with humans. Workers have testified that they frequently find tiger tracks in palm oil plantations.

The deforestation rate in Riau pushed WWF to intensify tiger population surveys in the province. Aside from vast deforestation, the population declines are exacerbated by illegal poaching. In March, WWF’s Tiger Patrol Unit and Riau’s Nature Conservation Agency confiscated more than 110 tiger snares in Bukit Betabuh.

Tigers everywhere are losing habitat


There are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in Indonesia, or about 12 percent of the estimated global tiger population of 3,200 tigers. With its significant percentage of the global tiger population, Indonesia has a prominent role in tiger conservation efforts. The tiger population is threatened by loss and fragmented habitat, decreasing prey populations, illegal poaching and trading of the tiger and its body parts, as well as human-tiger conflicts.

Confusion over count of tigers on prowl as pug marks spotted in Bharatpur

JAIPUR: There could be more than one tiger on the prowl in Rajasthan and neighbouring states from the Ranthambore National Park. The suspicion came after forest officials on Sunday discovered the carcass of a blue bull in Bharatpur. On a closer examination, not only tiger pug marks were discovered from the place, the kill resembled that by a tiger.

Adding to the confusion about the number of tigers out of Ranthambore park is the reported sighting of fresh tiger pug marks in Madhya Pradesh close to Dholpur border. The discovery of the pug marks in Madhya Pradesh has forced authorities to think that the tiger spotted in Mathura was not Mohan' as believed earlier. Mohan has strayed away from Ranthambore about six months back.

"What seems now is that a second tiger had strayed away from Ranthambore sanctuary through Ganteshwarkho to Kailadevi to Band Baretha in Bharatpur and then to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. This could be the tiger that had attacked ranger Daulat Singh Shaktawat on August 20 on the periphery of Ranthambore. After the attack, no effort was made to reign it in the sanctuary. This tiger, after migrating to Bharatpur may have sneaked into Mathura, travelling through the dense Bajra fields. But there is no certainty on this unless we get a picture of the tiger at Bharatpur," said Rajpal Singh, member, state wildlife board.

To end the confusion, forest officials have now fixed camera traps in and around Bharatpur where the carcass was discovered. "We have pictures of all the tigers in Ranthambore. Only after getting a picture of the tiger in Bharatpur through the trap camera that will we will be certain if this is Mohan or the one that was present near the Mathura refinery was or if it is a third tiger on the prowl," he added.

Meanwhile, efforts of a joint team of forest officials from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and a team from the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun had failed to track the tiger in Mathura and with no reports of any fresh attacks from Mathura, it is being assumed that the Mathura tiger is on its way back to Ranthambore.

When contacted, RS Shekhawat, DFO, Ranthambore said that pug marks of Mohan has been traced in Madhya Pradesh. "This seems a second tiger that had made into Mathura from Ranthambore and is now at Bharatpur," he said. Shekhawat was also part of the team from Rajasthan that was tracking the tiger in Mathura. However, the DFO could not clarify whether a third tiger has strayed away from the sanctuary.

"It is very difficult to maintain a daily count of tigers in any sanctuary. Sometimes it may be months before it is discovered that a tiger has strayed away from a sanctuary," said an official.

Ranthambore tiger 'Mohan' wrecks havoc in Mathura

Agra, Oct 7 (IANS) The tiger, now named Mohan, eluded wildlife trackers from three states, two days after it was spotted in Mathura district in Uttar Pradesh where it attacked half a dozen people. Officials believe it may be close to the Rajasthan border.
Forest officials from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, the Ranthambore National Park, Dehradun’s Wild Life Institute and Wild Life SOS have been camping on the Agra-Mathura border to trap the tiger, which is believed to have strayed away from its natural habitat. They are worried about the safety of the big cat.
Zonal wildlife conservator R.P. Bharti told IANS: “Most likely the tiger has crossed into Rajasthan or would do so by evening. Pug marks have been detected in that direction. My worry for the moment is he should be safe.
“Right now he seems to be covering four to five kilometres a day, whereas he should be moving at 15 to 16 km daily. This makes me wonder if he is hurt or limping. If the tiger can reach Bharatpur’s bird sanctuary it would be better as he would be assured of feed and there are many hiding points in that area. So he would be safer.”
Forest guards from the Bharatpur bird sanctuary and wildlife experts from Jaipur and Dholpur are part of the big hunt. The tiger appears to have eluded all and may be hiding in some fields, forest officials say.
N.K. Janoo, divisional forest officer of Agra, told IANS: “The last pug marks our tracking team came across were in village Shahzadpur, on the tri-junction of Bharatpur, Mathura and Agra districts. It’s a very intelligent animal, around four years old, and refuses to take the bait.
“It’s a matter of great concern how this animal strayed into this area. This could have been due to injury, destruction of its natural habitat which causes them to move to fringe areas bordering human settlement, or shrinkage of prey based territory. These big cats are territorial animals, so if they move out there has to be a reason.”
Janoo said the tiger straying away from the forest area was a danger signal, a definite fallout of the man-animal conflict. “Foliage and the population of smaller animals like deer is declining. This is disturbing the balance.”
The tracking teams from Agra and Mathura have not yet returned. But once the tiger moves into Rajasthan via the Bharatpur bird sanctuary, most probably by Thursday night, they would call off the operation, an official said.

Campaign in Goa: Buy a cow, save the tiger

Panaji: Grassroots wildlife activists who have been fighting for notification of Goa's rich, but mining-threatened, forests as a tiger reserve have found a unique way to compensate a 51-year-old widow whose cow was killed by a big cat in September.
The milk-yielding cow was a lifeline for Sai Pingle, 55, a dhangar tribal and a mother of two boys living in a thatched hut in the remote village of Ponsuli on the fringe of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary.

'We decided to collect money and compensate her with another cow. The local population should not turn against the tiger. It is imperative that they realise how important the animal is for the sustenance of this forest in the long run,' renowned wildlife activist Rajendra Kerkar said.

His Vivekanand Environment Awareness Brigade (VEAB) has taken the lead for collecting donations for the cow. 'A desi variety cow, the kind which was killed by the tiger, costs Rs.15,000, but a tiger is priceless,' Kerkar said.

Kerkar's anxiety stems from extremely practical reasons.

Last year, a tiger was snared and poached in the very same Mhadei wildlife sanctuary by members of a local hunting tribe called the 'Majiks'. Interestingly, both top forest department officials and the local administration first tried to cover up the poaching incident. The chief conservator of forests, Shashi Kumar, even went to the extent of calling Kerkar, who exposed the poaching episode, an abettor.

'The sensitisation of the local population towards the tiger is extremely essential to ensure the preservation of the animal. If the tiger is to frequent the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, the local residents cannot have animosity towards it,' Kerkar said.

He said people like Sai Pingle who live near wildlife sanctuaries should not begin to curse the king of the jungle.

Pingle's cow is not the only kill by carnivores in recent times. Increasing mining activity near Goa's wildlife sanctuaries has resulted in the displacement of the fauna near settlement areas, surrounding the protected habitat.

'Pingle and others like her cannot be compensated officially by the forest department because cattle are not allowed to graze in the wildlife sanctuary territory. So this is our effort to ensure that the kill does not affect her feelings for the tiger,' said Kerkar.

His VEAB has managed to create a small army of green-minded youngsters in the northern back-of-beyonds of Goa, 70 km from Panaji.

Kerkar said if the 'Cow for Pingle' formula works, then similar efforts would be made to collect donations for those economically backward folk whose bovines were lost to tiger kills.

Eco Treks Goa (ETG) has aligned itself along with the VEAB in the campaign. A very popular trekking group, ETG has also been at the forefront of the state's green brigade.

'A poor woman in the Chorla region lost her cow to a tiger some time back. It was a source of income to her. VEAB has initiated a campaign to buy a cow for her so that people do not turn against the tiger. The cost of the cow is Rs.15,000,' is ETG promoter Olympio Almeida's appeal to Facebookers online.

Wildlife activists claim that the grudging reluctance of the forest department and the state administration to admit to the presence of the tiger in Goa's numerous wildlife sanctuaries stems from the fact that notification of a tiger reserve in the area would severely impede the Rs.6,000 crore mining industry, which threatens to rip into Goa's green cover.

Environmentalist Claude Alvares said: 'Look at the many places in Goa named after tigers. The official census doesn't show any tigers from Goa when this is a tiger place - the tiger poaching incident itself reflects that. It means the national count of 1,411 tigers goes up.

'The forest department seems to be more concerned with conserving mining in the area than conserving wildlife,' Alvares alleged.

Arunachal to constitute special tiger protection force

ITANAGAR: The Arunachal Pradesh government has proposed to set up a 112-member special tiger protection force (TPF) for Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) to protect the big cat's declining population.

"The TPF would immensely help in protecting the big cats and containing poaching," conservator of forest (wildlife and biodiversity) M K Palit said.

The declining tiger population of 14 in 2006 against 61 as shown by the 2001-02 census was disputed as the census carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India was done in selected areas of the tiger reserve, he said.

The next census is due this month, he added. The Pakke Tiger Reserve in East Kameng district, home to a sizable number of tigers, has been appreciated by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest, he said.

The state forest department, which has signed an MoU with the National Tiger Conservation Authority

(NTCA), is expecting funds soon for the conservation of tigers, Palit said.

Two held with tiger's body parts

SARLAHI: Police on Saturday handed over two persons arrested along with tiger's body parts to the District Forest Office after a day of their arrest.

Mingma Sherpa of Chepuwa-6, Sankhuwasabha and Raj Kumar Bhujel alias Rajan of Karmaiya-3, Sarlahi were arrested from local Namaste Lodge in Lalbandi along with a five-foot long hide, bones and nails of the big cat yesterday.


Indian criminals made public


Meanwhile, the police today made public two Indian nationals who were arrested yesterday along with a pistol and its bullets from Sangrampur in the bordering area with India.


The arrestees are Narendra Yadav alias Nagendra (24) of Indarwa of Sitamadi, India and Bishwonath Singh Koiri (20) of of Haribela Basti of Digahi-15, India.


The duo has been accused of more than a dozen of crimes including kidnapping, extortion, looting.

Marching orders for humans in tiger territory

Ranchi, Oct. 9: Pugmarks are rare, if at all, but signs of human habitation — from livestock to landmines — are everywhere.
That could change soon as the over 1,000sq km Palamau Tiger Reserve is planning to get its act together by relocating in phases three villages in its core area.
“Three tribal villages — Ramandag, Latoo and Kujrum — lie within our core area. According to the National Tiger Conservatory Authority of India (NTCA) mandate, there should be no human habitation in the core regions of the reserve,” said Palamau Tiger Reserve director Paritosh Upadhyay.
The reserve, 180km from the state capital, once the pride of the region for its thriving big cat population, has long been reduced to a cluster of villagers, a rebel hideout and grazing grounds for cattle.
Though relocation is a prickly topic, reserve authorities left with no other recourse have already started taking steps towards it. “We will not identify land for them but try and facilitate their rehabilitation in the buffer zones. We have already initiated talks with villagers, soliciting their co-operation,” said Upadhyay, adding that a report would be sent to departments concerned by the end of the financial year.
Of the 1026sq km area of the reserve, 414sq km is earmarked as core area. According to officials, human population has grown manifold. Around 94 households with 700 people live on the core region, while the buffer zone has 120 villages. The 5km radius alone has 113 villages.
According to NTCA provisions, every household will be granted a lump sum of Rs 10 lakh for relocation.
“The total human population has been projected at over 1,16,549, of which 39,000 live within the reserve,” said Upadhyay, adding that cattle compounded problems.
There are 70,000 cattle heads in villages in and around the reserve, with 1,200 cattle grazing every day in the core area that nibble away the green cover, reducing food for the reserve’s wild herbivores. There is also a danger of disease transfer from cattle to wild animals.
“Although we try and ensure vaccination for all animals, including cattle, their numbers are so high that it is tough to keep tabs on all heads,” he said.

4-year-old tigress Minchu is latest to die at BBP

Four-year-old tigress Minchu died at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) on Tuesday, 15 days after the death of her sibling Divya.
Minchu, who died at 6.45 am, was under treatment for salmonella and e-coli bacterial infection. She was being administered glucose intravenously and was on a special renal diet, said MN Jaykumar, member secretary, Zoo Authority of Karnataka.
The post-mortem report revealed that Minchu suffered from kidney failure. “There were changes in her intestine and she had jaundice. There was a chronic renal failure,” said Dr C Renukaprasad, director, Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB).
“Despite all efforts, she died because of the toxins in the organism,” Renukaprasad said.
Unlike Divya, Minchu’s death was gradual which happens in the case of salmonella infection, he said.
The condition of other tigers also suffering from the same ailment is reported to be better. They are recovering and responding to the treatment, said Jaykumar.
Following deaths at BBP, a team of veterinarians and experts from the Central Zoo Authority of India visited the park last week. The team will give its report in New Delhi, said Jaykumar.

Tiger found dead in MP's Kanha reserve

BHOPAL: A tiger was found dead in Khapa range of Madhya Pradesh's famous Kanha Tiger Reserve, a top forest department official said.

"The tiger was found dead with a deep wound around its neck yesterday near a drain in Khapa range of Kanha, situated in eastern Madhya Pradesh," State additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests T R Sharma said.

The tiger, who was about 10 to 12-year-old, possibly, had sustained injury to his neck in a territorial fight with another tiger some days back, he added.

The body of the tiger was disposed off after post-mortem was carried out under the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in Kanha though the post-mortem report is yet to be received by the department.

This was the fourth death of a tiger being attributed to territorial fights in the last one year in Kanha Tiger Reserve spread over an area of 2000 sq km, sources said.

Arrested poachers killed over 100 tigers

Two poachers responsible for the deaths of over 100 Sumatran tigers have been arrested in Bengkulu City,
southwest Sumatra said Fauna & Flora International (FFI) on the eve of International Day for Biological
Diversity.
“The poachers were caught in possession of the pelt and skeleton of a Sumatran tiger,” said Debbie Martyr,
Field Coordinator for FFI’s Kerinci Tiger Protection Programme.
“As a critically endangered species loss of even one of these animals can impact on the survival of the
species.”
The arrests follow a two month undercover investigation lead by rangers from FFI’s Tiger Protection and
Conservation Unit with back up from Bengkulu City police.
The two men arrested were a 57 year old man and his son from Tunggang village of Muko Muko district,
northern Bengkulu. Both men were known to the unit as professional tiger poachers active in three districts of
Bengkulu and West Sumatra province. The older suspects advised the undercover investigator that he had
poached more than 100 Sumatran tigers in a career spanning more than 30 years.
“Currently we estimate the Sumatran tiger population at around 500. There could be more tigers out there but
regardless these poachers have had a negative impact on this species.” Ms Martyr said.
The suspects are thought to have traded poached tigers to Pekanbaru in Riau province and to Padang city in
West Sumatra province and are known to have links to nationally significant illegal wildlife traders.
This law enforcement action was the third conducted by the unit in the last six months.
In November 2009, teams arrested two men in possession of a tiger pelt and skeleton – one a known tiger
dealer, the second a professional poacher who also traded tigers – after a lengthy and dangerous undercover
investigation by FFI’s tiger rangers. Both men were subsequently sentenced to 18 months custodial terms.
In the following month, a combined action between the FFI Tiger Protection and Conservation Programme
and local police resulted in the arrest of a third tiger dealer and seizure of a second tiger skin. The man
arrested had been under active surveillance since late 2008 and was sentenced to a two years six months
custodial sentence by Bangko district court.
Fauna & Flora International has been working in Kerinci-Seblat National Park, Sumatra since 1995. Tiger
Protection and Conservation Units comprising rangers recruited from forest edge communities and led by a
park ranger on full-time secondment to the programme, arrest offenders and enforce the law within the
national park and outside the forest.

Even human skin will be traded some day: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court gave a dressing down to notorious poacher Sansar Chand for killing tigers, leopards and other endangered species and said the day was not far when human skin would also be traded.
Chand had sought acquittal in a case relating to trade in animal skin and body parts. “A day would come soon when human skin will be traded for commercial purposes. You are selling the skin of tigers and leopards. Tomorrow, you would sell even human skin,” an anguished bench of justices Markandey Katju and TS Thakur said while reserving the judgment on Monday.
In a strong indictment of Chand’s poaching activities, the court said, “The population of tigers and leopards was declining because you [Sansar Chand] are trading in skins of tigers and leopards. There is no tiger left in Sariska [tiger reserve].”
The judges rejected the contention of counsel for the petitioner, Siddhartha Luthra, that his client was not involved in poaching. Luthra had said that if his client was involved in poaching, how was possible that poaching was going on even after his arrest.
Unimpressed by the plea, the court said, “You are all interested in money. You want only money. Everything in the country is commercial.” The judges hinted that poachers will be shown no mercy and warned that if they’re not stopped, no tigers and leopards would be left in the country.
On July 5, the judges had sought Rajasthan government’s response to Chand’s plea for parole. He is serving a five-year jail term for smuggling leopard skins in 2003. The poacher has been convicted for smuggling claws, skin, teeth and other animal parts out of Bhilwara in 2003.
According to official investigations, Chand is responsible for the death of at least 10 tigers in Sariska in 2005. He has been acquitted by a court in two cases related to wildlife crime for want of evidence.

Tiger cubs yet to be traced in Panna sanctuary

Madhya Pradesh's Panna sanctuary has in all likelihood lost its two poster cubs with authorities yet to trace them a month after they went missing.

The state wildlife officials, however, are yet to declare them officially dead.

Panna Field director S R Murthy said that they were keeping a regular tab on the movement of the tigress which is with her two remaining five-month-old cubs.


"We have kept our fingers crossed and it might be possible that the tigress has hidden them (missing cubs) in a safer place. But, to be on the realistic side, we are now "99 per cent certain" that only two live cubs are present with the  tigress."

"In case they have died it is nothing strange. It is a a natural phenomenon. Usually, mortality rate is 50 per cent in the big cats in the wild. The cubs might have died and the park employees are looking for physical remains in the area, if any," Murthy said.

Just when the success story of the country's tiger translocation programme was being scripted soon after the litter of four cubs were born on 15/16 April from one of the reintroduced big cat in the sanctuary, the officials got a jolt when they could not spot three of the four-months old with their mother.

The tigress was spotted with a single cub on September 7 after a fight with the solitary male tiger at the park on  August 29 and then again on September 5.

Initially, it was felt that the tigress might have hidden the cubs after the two fights with the male tiger.

However, while one cub was retrieved since then, the two others seem to have lost to either disease or the tiger itself might have killed the cubs to get near to the mother.
In all, the park has a tiger and two tigress.

The authorities soon plan to bring yet another male and two females to the Park which had lost all big cats to poachers just a few years ago.

Veerappan land now a Tiger den


SATHYAMANGALAM: The land of the dreaded sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has now turned into a tiger den. Camera traps have revealed pictures of 19 tigers on the prowl in the Savannah-like forests of Sathyamangalam in Erode district in western Tamil Nadu. And DNA analysis of scats has confirmed the presence of at least 13 big cats.

The booming tiger population in Sathyamangalam, even while the big cats are on a decline in North India, has prompted Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh to ask Tamil Nadu government to send a proposal for declaring the Sathyamangalam forests a tiger reserve. As of now, only a small part of the Sathyamangalam forests has been declared a wildlife sanctuary. And the sprawling 1,450 sqkm area is the only non-tiger reserve forest in south India with a significant presence of big cats, say wildlife experts.

When a TOI team trekked through Sultan road in Thalamalai forest area, clear tiger pug marks and a fresh kill of a cow could be spotted. The locals in Asanur, Bavanisagar and Thalamalai say they spot at least one tiger a week. And for the Tamil Nadu forest department, a promising tale of tiger conservation is rolling out of Sathyamangalam.

"A healthy prey base, our strict vigil in forests, conservation efforts and reduction of cattle population in the forest fringes have yielded positive results in Sathyamangalam," chief wildlife warden R Sundararaju told TOI.

The big cats have been spotted sporadically across the five forest ranges of the Sathyamangalam forest division after the killing of Veerappan in November 2004. The wildlife census team found pug marks of eight to 10 tigers in Sathyamangalam last year. However, for the first time, a scientific study of the tiger presence was carried out by the Wildlife Fund for Nature and the Wildlife Trust of India according to the guidelines laid down by the environment and forest ministry.

The cameras, placed at 30 places across Moyar valley in the Sathyamangalam forest division at an interval of two sq km, have captured footages of 19 different tigers.

Besides, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) collected 109 scat samples of which 60 turned out to be tiger stools. "The DNA analysis of the scat samples has shown that they belong to 13 different tigers," says WTI's field officer, Dr B Ramakrishnan. However, the forest officials now fear that the presence of the big cats may attract poachers to the forests.

Two tiger cubs spotted in Ranthambore

JAIPUR: For the wild life enthusiasts, there is just a week to go before the Ranthambhore National Park is thrown open to the tourists for tiger sighting. Now, after a span of two years, two tiger cubs, barely three months old, are spotted in the park.

According to sources, tourists from Hyderabad were the lucky firsts to spot a tigress strolling with her two cubs in the Kundal area in Sultanpur, near Zone 1 of the national park on Wednesday morning. While the national park is closed at this point of time, the Sultanpur area is open to the tourists throughout the year.

Eyewitnesses said they saw the tigress carry one cub in her mouth while the other trailed along. According to sources, the tigress has been identified as T-13. However, what is the cause of concern is that the male tiger (T-12) father to the cubs, was the last tiger to be shifted to Sariska National Park. With the male tiger not there to protect the cubs, there could be some threat to the cubs from another male tiger -- T-24 -- which was seen around the tigress (T-13).

Even though the official figures of the new census have not yet been declared, this would take the tiger count up to 34 in the park after five tigers have been shifted to Sariska National Park. Besides, two tigers are said to be in the Kaila Devi area and one in Kota. Incidentally, in March this year, two male cubs, about a year old, were poisoned by villagers in for killing their goats. The T-13 has also had a litter earlier, which is now in zone two, said sources.

Evidence of tiger presence in Goa: Official

Panaji, Oct 2 (IANS) There is good news on the tiger conservation front. A top forest department official has confirmed the presence of tigers in the forests of Goa.
Additional principal chief conservator of forests Shashi Kumar said the department had indirect evidence of tiger presence in the four wildlife sanctuaries which ring the hinterland of the state.

"There is a possibility of tiger presence in the state's forest. There is evidence of its presence which will be confirmed through camera trapping method," Kumar told reporters after a wildlife-related function here Saturday.

Kumar said the indirect evidence was collected during the course of the wildlife census which was conducted in the state's forests which are contiguous to Maharashtra and Karnataka. The census was carried out with the assistance of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), a central government institute based in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

Members of the Western ghat conservation panel have already suggested that the forests of Goa should be notified as a tiger reserve, a move which has been resisted by the state forest department in the past.

A tiger had also been poached in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, about 60 km from here, last year which had resulted in the arrest of three people.

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