community reserves

Simetaneous treatment of forests and adjoining forestlands for holistic development of rainfed capital of India

Posted by Hilaluddin on July 16, 2010

Blog

Considering overall condition of climate change and absence of planning of sectoral integration and tackling of all type of lands simultaneously, the NRAA has developed an innovative project on “simultaneous treatment of fringe forests and adjoining non-forestlands for conservation of water, biodiversity, sustainability of JFM and poverty alleviation” in consultation with the Ministry of Environment & Forests and the State Forest Departments. The proposed scheme endeavours to enhance synergies of all land type of lands in an integrated and sequential manner. The treatment of forests and non-forestland (Ridge to Valley Approach) on 50:50 ratio with site specific variations based on the availability of both land use and involvement of the communities in the management and development of natural resources is the main plank of the strategy. The scheme endeavours for water harvesting and moisture conservation, biomass production through plantation of indigenous grasses and multipurpose tree species, and augmenting income & providing livelihoods to the villagers through Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Eco-tourism, Fishery, Horticulture, promotion & development of natural resource based micro & medium enterprises (e.g. NTFPs, Seri-culture, etc.). The strengthening of JFM and other alternative institutions is an important corner stone of the programme. Underutilized, unutilized natural resources will be productively and efficiently harnessed for need based production systems to enhance the productivity of bio-productive systems. The successful implementation of scheme will result enhanced land productivity, better livelihood opportunities, improved water availability, equity in resource sharing and enhanced income generation which will ultimately lead to all round prosperity in the rainfed areas with minimized social conflicts.

 

The scheme will cover 132 distress prone districts belonging to 16 states of the country and is expected to treat 1.4 million ha degraded land with a financial input of Rs 2,24,779 crores during 2011 and 2016. The scheme will be implemented by the MoEF through SFDAs/FDAs. The following activities are proposed to be taken up under scheme.

 

1.      Survey of fringe forest areas for planning of activities.

2.      Community mobilization and formation of community groups.

a)     Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs)

b)     Self Help Groups (SHGs)

c)      Watershed Committees/User Groups

d)     Others

3.      Entry point activities and micro-planning support.

4.      Work components (civil structures).

A) Soil and moisture conservation work.

a)     Gully plugs

b)     Contour and graded bunds / contour trenches

c)      Bench terracing

d)     Field bunding

e)     Others

B)  Water harvesting structures

a)     Water bodies

b)     Nallah bandh

c)      Check dam/stop dams/dice dams

d)     Percolation tank/ water retention tanks

e)     Weirs

f) Others

5.      Afforestation and pasture development

a)   Vegitative barriers.

b)   Farm-forestry/ agro-forestry.

c)   Community land development.

d)   Plantation of multipurpose fruits, timber, fodder, fiber and fuelwood species.

e)   Plantation of indigenous grasses.

f)     Non timber forest produce / medicinal plants.

g)   After care particularly against fire/ grazing.

h)  Others

6.      Livelihood through animal husbandry activities

a)      Breed improvement/ induction of animals

b)      Artificial insemination coverage

c)       Fodder bank establishment

d)      Dry forage enrichment / enriched feed blocks

e)      Health coverage/ livestock immunization

f)       Establishing producer societies

g)      Value addition/ market linkages

7.      Indigenous fish culture

a)      Fish hatcheries establishment

b)      Promotion of Integrated fish farming systems

c)       Value addition/ market linkages

8.      Promotion of natural resource based micro & medium enterprises/ skill development/ value addition.

9.      Capacity building.

10. Technology transfer/ demonstration, etc.

 

The scheme in nut shell will be an excellent tool to mitigate climate change. The NRAA in collaboration with the six State Forest Departments have already launched Pilot Projects of this scheme. The details of treatment activities to be undertaken during next two financial years under the programme are summarized in the following table.

 

State

Division

Area in hectare

Forests

Non-forest land

Chattisgarh

Raipur East Forest Division

794.7

605.3

Gujarat

Sabarkantha North and South Forest Divisions

3003.99

1946.25

Maharashtra

Aurangabad Forest Division

4586.1

1141.65

Tamil Nadu

Vellore Forest Division

600.0

409.0

Tripura

Kanchanpur and Gumti Forest Divisions and Trishna WLS

2584.0

2778.0

Uttrakhand

Mussorie Forest Division

559.7

672.06

Total

12128.49

7552.20

 

The highlights of the pilot projects programme are as follows; 

1.      Integrated land based activities of Water, Forests, Agriculture, Rural Development, Micro & Medium Enterprises, etc. in the project area.

2.      Area specific Watershed and Watershed Plus based treatment approach.

3.      Regeneration and/ or plantation of indigenous grasses, medicinal herbs/shrubs, fruit and fodder yielding shrubs and multipurpose trees.

4.      In situ moisture conservation through development of water harvesting and water conservation structures.

5.      Livelihood generation through promotion of natural raw material based Micro & Medium Enterprises specifically animal husbandry, fishery, eco-tourism, etc.

6.      Increased employment opportunities through value addition and developing market linkages for natural resource based products specifically NTFPs.

7.      Farmer’s typology centric with emphasis on marginal & small farmers, landless & assetless, and women.

8.      Convergence of resources, activities and programs.

9.      Participatory planning, implementation, monitoring and follow up.

10. Enhancement of overall land productivity, employment potential and livelihoods on sustained basis.

11. Capacity building at project/cluster level.

12. Coverage of different types of rainfed agro-ecology/typology through proper selection of clusters in the domain of interest.

Interlinking of Rivers

Ganga River Action plan

Posted by Dr.Susan Sharma on July 10, 2010

Blog
For the first time, seven Indian Institutes of Technology will prepare a comprehensive river basin management plan for Ganga.

While earlier the Union Ganga River Basin Authority was looking upon international agencies to produce the plan which would include not only a blueprint of the sewage systems along the basin but also the dams that are being planned, the joint bid by IIT swung it in favour of Indian engineers. The river basin plan will aim to have adequate provision for water and energy in the Ganga basin to accommodate the pressures of increased population, urbanization, industrialization and agriculture while ensuring the sanctity of the fundamental aspects of the river system are protected. The twin demands of perennial flow and clean waters would be the two benchmarks to be met.

Read more at
http://iitdalumni.com/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=97

Corporates and Environment

Restoring River systems

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 07, 2010

Blog
The Nature Conservancy(US) and other conservation groups have purchased 3 dams on Maine's Penobscot River.

Their efforts are part of an environmental and cultural restoration along the river, where the Penobscot people have lived for thousands of years. The river was once the tribe’s medicine cabinet, its water supply, highway and supermarket. Despite a century of changes, the tribe hopes to revive the river’s central role in its life again.

Standing in the way of this revival, however, are several large hydroelectric dams.

While the tribe has won a series of court battles to clean up the river from decades of industrial pollution, its legal fight against the dams has made little headway.

But things began to change in August 2008, when the tribe, together with The Nature Conservancy and other partners in the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, exercised the option to purchase the dams outright for $25 million from the power company. The unprecedented deal, which is still awaiting federal approval, is a carefully negotiated win-win for all the parties involved.

Now they plan to tear down the dams to restore Atlantic salmon, shad and other fish.

The deal is a rare pragmatic victory for both conservation and industry, one that required years of painstaking work to negotiate and years more to raise funds to buy the dams. While the challenges are not over — it turns out that tearing down a series of dams is complicated and expensive work — the trust’s successes may help demonstrate the potential for restoring other rivers around the world.

Read full article at
http://www.nature.org/magazine/summer2010/features/art31630.html

Wildlife

Discovering Nauradehi WLS

Posted by Uday on July 04, 2010

Blog

Situated amidst three district of Madhya Pradesh, Nauradehi is a lesser known destination that deserves more attention. Nauradehi lies between Sagar, Damoh, Narsinghpur districts and is easily accessible from Jabalpur.


The wildlife sanctuary is unique in this region the floral elements differ much from Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserves. The forests are Southern tropical dry deciduous mix type. The forests are totally mixed and I have not seen any pure belts of teak, saaj or bamboo except those in plantation.  The river systems are Bamner and  Vyarma besides a number of lakes and water bodies exists in the sanctuary.


The species of animals seen here are not easily seen in the tiger reserves. Otter, Indian Wolf, Blue Bull, Chinkara and Marsh crocodiles are seen often some with ease. The deer species are also represented by Sambar, Spotted Deer, Four Horned Deer and Barking Deer.


The tiger once inhabited the forest in abundance but of late there is no evidence of tigers and leopards. Sporadic sighting are reported but no census records are available. The WLS promises to throw new discoveries but extensive survey is required. The tourism zone is at Cheola Lake. This place is excellent for wildlife watching and birding. Birding is exciting at Nauradehi with both wetland birds as well forest birds inhabiting the same ecosystem. See my check list of birds of Noradehi for more information on birding.   


Jabalpur is the best route to Noradehi. It is about 80 km from WLS connected by well maintained road network. Jabalpur is a large town more popular as approach to Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh. In terms of accommodation in Jabalpur city there are many hotels in all price range.  For transportation and wildlife safari a gypsy is ideal vehicle as the jungle tracts in Noradehi are rugged. 


Best time to visit is winters as weather is cool and comfortable. There is no hotel accommodation nearby except rest house at Mohali which has to be booked from Sagar DFO. The rest house at Cheola Lake is more of a day center as accommodation is not provided here for tourists.   


For more details on wildlife of the preserve visits wildlife resort blog on Noradehi WLS.

Urban Wildlife

The Trees Outside My Window...

Posted by Fabiola Jacob on July 01, 2010

Blog
Just outside my apartment window off Santhome High Road in Chennai, are a row of trees reaching up to the 3rd floor. The trees host a variety of birds – many I’m seeing for the first time, and with the Internet, able to identify. 

For as long as I remember, there have been crows and squirrels in plenty, with a fair share of the Common Sparrow thrown in. But in recent times, the common sparrows have dwindled in number, and are rare to find. But many other birds have become frequent visitors – largely due to the upcoming Adyar Eco Park that’s just a stone throw away from here.

A small group of Coppersmith Barbets are one of the most frequent and my favourite visitors. The first time I set my eyes on one of them, I was captivated by their beauty. Only as big as the sparrow, with glossy greenish wings and plumes of red and yellow on the crown and chest – they are truly a piece of art! And their call is so unique a “tuk…tuk…tuk…” that resembles a coppersmith banging on the metal – and hence their name. And once you hear that sound – it’s almost impossible not to recognize where it comes from. Creatures of habit, they seem to be, and make themselves present on the same branches everyday at morning before the sun gets too harsh, and in the evening at dusk. The other day, I spotted a curious little fellow just outside my wind – craning his neck to listen to my daughter practicing on the Piano!

And then there are the Black Drongos, who think they own the air space! The fiercest fighters of the bird world, their aerial sorties while chasing the crows are just as thrilling as the ones we see at air shows. And that brings me to the subject of the crows who seem to be sharing India’s predicament – a population explosion. With a surge in number comes food scarcity, as the crows these days are never content with scavenging – and so they fly in and out of balconies, helping themselves to food straight from the kitchen, rummaging in other nests, eating eggs, feeding on fledglings and generally creating a ruckus.

But the crows are not really as smart as they seem. They are frequently outwitted by the Asian Koel that often usurps its nest and even fools the crow into raising its young. When the crow is away, the Koel pushes out the crow’s eggs from its nest and lays its own. And then the gullible crow sits on the eggs, hatches it and rears the young – though the fledgling looks and sounds so very different from its own young. I guess this is what that Victorian idiom “penny-wise, pound-foolish” actually means!

And just outside my balcony is this industrious little squirrel, busy building her nest – for about a week now. From dawn till dusk, she runs up and down the tree, collecting building material that includes tiny twigs, fiber, coir, cotton, foam and even sheets of plastic! Her nest looks cozy now, and I’m looking forward to seeing her little ones soon.

There are many other birds too – mynahs prowling the ground on their dainty feet and tailor birds looking for leaves to stitch up. And even as I’m blogging, there is this tiny brown fellow with a grayish chest and belly preening on one of the branches. His mate is here too, flitting among the leaves. They are so tiny, smaller than even the tailor bird – I just can't wait to google them out… now!

Wildlife

Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary!

Posted by Natasha on June 29, 2010

Blog

A visit to the Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary.

Trekking in the Western Ghats!

The Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Udupi district of Karnataka, Kollur and was established in 1974 covering an area of 247 sq km. The vegetation type is a mix of evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests covering the steep slopes typical of the Western Ghats Mountains. This forest comes under the Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas. (Local communities are actively involved in this conservation effort. MPCAs serve as the study sites for conservation biology related research and also the source of authentic and quality planting material for propagation).

Longitudes : 13o41'25.87"E to 13o58'51.85"E
Latitudes : 74o39'8.68"N to 74o56'8.84"N.
Annual rainfall : 4,593 mm
Elevation ranges : 9-1,315 m above sea level.

The sanctuary receives an annual rainfall of 4,593 mm and the elevation here ranges from 9-1,315 m above sea level. Water sources include the Chakra nadi, Kollur River, 27 perennial streams, 36 large seasonal streams, several smaller streams, two seasonal natural lakes, one spring and 20 artificial water tanks. (Source from Atree’s Website)

I hadn't heard of Mookambika WLS and didnt know what to expect. I had gone on work and was pleasantly surprised when i reached this forest. It reminded me so much of Anshi( Dandeli- Anshi Tiger Reserve). We had planned our day so we could complete 2 treks.One trek was focused on identifying the butterflies. This is being done to Educate tourist's on the different colorful species of the forest. The butterfly life was amazing and the list of butterflies seen was good. These forests can support a myriad of butterflies due to the varied plant composition and diversity. I was amazed at their numbers. This place was teaming with butterflies all hovering about. On the trek i noticed a snake up on a tree. It was a lovely ornate flying snake. We completed this trek and rested before we headed out to complete the birds trail.

A wide variety of butterflies, reptiles and birds are found here. My trek through this beautiful forest opened my eyes further on the beauty and endemism of species of flora and fauna seen in this region. I was completely amazed at the beauty of this forest. I trekked  to Arshinagundi Falls and its a wonderful place for Birding.I spotted the Mountain imperial pigeon, Black headed oriole, Pompadour green pigeon, Malabar Trogon, a lovely pair of painted bush Quail,White bellied treepie and lots more. We also noted medicinally rare trees like

Eco-tour

Birding in Northern India

Posted by Uday on June 26, 2010

Blog

I was bit taken aback by the reach of urbanity as we neared Bharatpur bird sanctuary. The feel was missing but not for long. The wetlands as I discovered are a paradise for bird lovers. I was leading a group of Germans and this was my first trip to Keoladeo Ghana. 


The Sibes have gone but the sanctuary retains much of its glamor. At Bharatpur a two day trip yields a checklist of more than 150 species of wetland birds. Some of the bird we check listed here and at Bund Baretha include:


Little Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron, Glossy Ibis, Siberian ruby throat, Bar Headed Geese, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Open-billed Stork, Red-breasted Flycatcher,  Barn Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow, House Martin, Hume’s Warbler, Black Bittern, Cotton Teal, Northern Pintail and Eurasian Coot. Grey Francolin, Tickle’s Thrush, Brown Crake, Booted warbler,  Great white pelicans,   Spot-billed duck, Sykes Warbler,  Common Crane, Sarus Crane, Black necked stork, Dusky Fish Owl, Purple Swamphen, Wood sand piper, Spotted redshank, Green Sandpiper,  Bronze-winged Jacana, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lesser spotted eagle,  Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, King Vulture, Temminck’s stint, Oriental Darter, Grey Heron, Indian Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Purple Heron, Painted Stork.


We could sight Indian skimmers at Bund Baretha but could sight whiskered tern, Ferruginous pochard, Spanish sparrow, oriental skylark, Russets sparrow and more....


Our next destination was Chambal River Sanctuary more than an hours drive from Agra. It is a pristine river parts of which are designated as river sanctuary. Chambal is a unique destination as apart from birding this is a good place to see Gangetic dolphin, Marsh crocodile and the endangered Gharial. On a boat trip we could come across Indian skimmers, sand lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Brown Crake,  Long Legged Buzzard, Variable Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Bonelli's eagle on nest, brown fish eagle, booted hawk eagle and brownhawk owl.


A day is enough at Chambal River Sanctuary for birding trip during winters. Most of the bird watching is done on the boat ride but substantial number of birds can be seen on the banks. The boat ride is about three hours and covers a long distance.              


For avid birders Chambal is a must see destination. Most of the tour operators include this destination in their itineraries for birding in Northern India. 

Wildlife Poaching

Status of Indian Wildlife

Posted by Uday on June 26, 2010

Blog

India had large tract of forests, extensive grasslands, deserts and wetlands all prime ecosystems that supported vast array of wild animals, birds, butterflies and reptiles. The rapid increase in population and subsequent urgency for agricultural land and fuel wood resulted in destruction of our ecosystems.  The demand for commercial wood and trophies all have contributed alongside to destroy nature and wildlife in India


Though much is still left, the wilderness now thrives in small pockets designated as protected areas -National Parks and sanctuaries. The protected areas were created to conserve keystone species like tigers and lion in India. The conservation efforts in the seventies and eighties resulted in comeback of most of the endangered species like the tiger, swamp deer, Indian rhino and Asiatic lion to mention a few.  


Project tiger is one such example which after initial success was unable to control poaching and forest destruction. The creation of tiger reserves was to accord additional protection.  Unfortunately the increase in poaching incidence especially for tiger parts in China, skin in Tibet and elsewhere took its toll and still does. The demand created a nexus of smugglers, middlemen and poachers. The lucrative demand  gave rise to poaching incidence even in the best protected tiger reserves like Sariska and Panna National Parks. In many incidences local communities are involved lured by a paltry sum.


The most threatened species is the Bengal tiger. This charismatic big cat in spite of a major conservation efforts continues to be exterminated by the poachers in India. TakingSariska and Panna into consideration the administration and the law and order machinery appears to be helpless in nabbing and booking those involved in illegal wildlife trade.          


Tiger apart from being an important part of our environment is a National Heritage. Indian wildlife is diverse and unique. India is home to many endemic species as well. The country benefits from conserving its natural wealth and hence protecting the environment. If keystone species become extinct the damage to our environment will be irrevocable.


The wildlife also attracts tourists from all over the World. The increase in eco-tourism brings in crucial funds.  These funds are employed in conservation, economic upliftment of local communities as well as the tourism industry. The need of the hours is responsible wildlife tourism and tiger safari that promotes conservation. Tourism also brings into focus the understanding of the ecosystem and wildlife there in.  


Stringent laws that prevent poaching and destruction of our ecosystems are required urgently. The protected areas are created with conservation. But tourism should not be discouraged. The activity should be restricted and monitored. Neglected areas are more susceptible to poaching since the public eye is absent. Tourists along with local communities play an important role in conservation of our National Heritage.             

Environment Awareness

Forest Fires

Posted by Aparna V K on June 23, 2010

Blog


The first learning during my stay at Bandipur during the 3rd week of March was Forest Fires. I was under the impression  that Forest fires were caused mainly due to dry boughs rubbing  against each other (taking into consideration a large amount of  dry dead leaves littering the forest floor) , due to  lightning during storms and sometimes by man. I was in for a  rude shock when I came to know that all forest fires in India  were caused by Man!


We are so much influenced by American way of life through the  medium of television, that we know a lot more about their wildlife  than our native species, we know the emu and the ostrich than  the Bustard, we know about the cougar more than we know about  our panthers, we know a lot more about African elephants than  about their Asian cousins and so also I was under the impression  about forest fires through natural causes through the widely  televised events shown in TVs about the fires in US.


Indian forests are mostly deciduous type . Even  during the driest season they contain enough moisture to rule  out fire due to natural causes. Unfortunately the same cannot be  told about the invasive species -lantana, eucalyptus and the Australian wattle which the government has planted everywhere to  suck out the underground water, to wipe out the native species  and thus deny the herbivores that depend on them for food, and  hence to go extinction ( the introduced species neither provide  good shelter nor do they provide fodder) and to support fire to  spread easily  (these trees are so dry and the leaves litter do  not decompose fast and contain oil thus encouraging fire). Of  course that wasn't their idea, their logic seemed to simply rotate  around the fast growing nature of these trees. How could the  govt without a scientific analysis on the impact from these  trees to the native environment do mass planting everywhere ? why  do they still continue doing so even after the impact is so  visible and screamed out loud by the scientific community?


Our forests are fragile. Every successive fires caused  accidentally or deliberately by people living within and the  fringes of the forest areas inadvertently causes irreversible  damages to the ecosystem. Fires bring down century old trees  that are destroyed beyond repair and encourage rampant lantana  growth in the successive rainy season. Not to mention the  animals that perish in the fires. Bandipur this Summer saw fires  breaking out all around. The concerned forest authorities were  helpless. They lack resources to control and prevent fires. They  lack man-power and motivation. True they don't take steps to  secure but dare I point at them? Isn't it true that the number  of forest watchers and guards are at their record low? That  there haven been any new permanent posting, the govt happy to  appoint guards on contract basis and pay them poorly.


So, what is the solution? Encourage forestation with native  species. Check the growth of lantanas. Educate the tribal and  villages encircling the forests about the menace of forest fires  and steps they must take to prevent accidental fires. Educate  tourists on the same lines. Post more guards and watchers. Raise  their salaries to the level of hawaldars in the civil dept.  Provide them with equipments to control fire in case of forest  fires. Its a big task ahead of us. Educating the masses ,  mobilizing them to protect this rare treasure that's in our  hands.

Environment Awareness

Threats to Melagiri forests

Posted by Aparna V K on June 23, 2010

Blog

A strong odour of cattle dung hit us even before our eyes caughtsight of it littered everywhere like shopping freaks in Bangalore'sMall. And here we were  in the middle of a thick scrub jungle come todo a census on the flora and fauna of the Hosur Forests also called asMelagiris. Kenneth Anderson Nature  Society together with Asian NatureConservation Foundation have taken up several surveys in this regionthat spreads over an area of almost 1200 sq kms  containing a mix ofseveral vegetation but mainly abounded by the dry scrub forest to studythese forests and restore the region back to its original state.



Theseforests  face manifold threats and perhaps the one by cattle grazingtops the list. Cattle here are grazed in large numbers and pegged downin large  cattle-pen called pattis. The absence of large carnivores anda blind eye by the forest department has made the Hosur forests acattle grazing grounds for  the locals. There is a suspicion that thecattle that's been grazed belongs to the wealthier families in TamilNadu living far away from Hosur employing the  services of the local.While the locals are allowed to graze cattle and sheep, grazing goatsis illegal, though one can frequently come across goats grazing  in theMelagiris. This has been made illegal because while the cattle/sheepfeed mainly on grass the goat eats up tender shoots thus denying theforests to  rejuvenate.


Chital that is so abundant inthe other side of the Cauvery, on the Karnataka side, that you yawnwhen you sight herd after herd thudding away in your wake  has in thisregion become a sight to feast on. So why have the herbivores beenthinning out even as the forests remain? Answer, human interference andCattle  Grazing. These herbivores have been hunted down for meat andskin. Also since they naturally avoid man increased human interferencehas made them to flee  these forests. The dwindling grass cover by thecattle even as it sprouts and the foot and mouth disease, poaching formeat has all played a major role in  wiping out the larger populationof the herbivores. With such a small prey base and poaching has wipedout the tigers, not to mention cattle-kill poisoning  carried out bytheir distraught owners long ago. Although we have recorded pug marksof leopards and wild dogs, tigers and hyena have are no longer to be found although the locals claim to have seen one or two a while.




Thick lantana jungle has sprung up everywherewiping away the native plant species. Its likely that these dry bushescatch up fire at the slightest chance  building up into a roaringfurnace and destroying the forest. KANS (Kenneth Anderson NatureSociety) has drawn plans to employ locals to remove this invasive  weedfrom the roots. However no amount of de-weeding can remove themforever, the seeds of lantana are spread by birds and need but a briefspell of rain to  grow back to numbers. A sustained effort over timeonly can put a cap on the lantana jungle.



Man-Elephantconflict is on steady rise. The Elephants have taken to crop-raidingdue to a variety of reasons - perhaps because the farms have replacedtheir  original forests? or because they face shortage of food withinforests due to expansive cattle grazing? Some also say the Elephantshave taken a liking to  easily available farm produce while othersvehemently deny it stating elephants are shy of humans and doeverything in their power to avoid human habitation.  And havingexperienced that first hand I must say I agree with the latter belief.Human death toll is getting higher too. Unwary locals and forestguards  have been trampled by bulls occasionally.


Atseveral places Villages have taken permanent residence within theforest boundaries. Re-settling these villages from the Melagiris isessential to give  the forests and wildlife a chance to revive. Howeverthis is a very sensitive issue, the tribals in this region have beenliving in the forests are called  Poojaries and have since timeimmemorial developed a culture that is deeply associated with theforests. It is indeed very difficult to separate the  original settlersfrom the new families that must have taken residence in the recentpast. A fair approach must be followed and enough compensation must begiven for the families  to persuade them to move out of the forests. Afew of the natives could be soaked in as the forest staff as theirknowledge of these forests is exhaustive and indispensable towardsstudying and protecting them.


The locals have beenusing the forests to extract a variety of forest produce includingfirewood, tamarind pods, honey to list a few. KANS has drawn up plans to provide LPG gas to the families to cut down on the firewoodgathering. Farmlands are extending their tentacles into the forestlands steadily. When the  Melagiris assume Sanctuary status, withenough security, it can be said that Timber extraction, poaching andsuch illegal activities can be capped.


RecklessTourism is another contributing factor. Although Melagiris arerelatively unknown patch of forests it can be predicted that with allthe  conservation activities in progress, the limelight on the floraand fauna will inevitably attract a steady stream of picnic-goers.Already tourists are seen  loitering around. At a prominent lake wherethe elephants usually gather in large numbers at dusk touristsunmindful of the danger have been seen in groups.  Although there is nostraight forward solution to the Tourism issue but it must be handledwith caution.


Although the list of threats does notend here, they are not new. Our forests throughout India are reelingunder the same tell-tale signs. We have only  around 3% land underforest cover protecting a fragile eco-system. New lands are almostimpossible to secure for the already threatened plants and animals and the majority of the forests in this 3% fall as reserved forests. Theforest staff are few, they are underpaid and not well equipped to fightthe poachers.  There are many problems and many more solutions. Todaythe cry of the hour is to guarantee the security of our remainingforests, to guarantee a life to the  many beasts and wild plants thatabound our lands. The time is to act.




Copyright © 2001 - 2017 Indian Wildlife Club. All Rights Reserved. | Terms of Use