Press on Environment and Wildlife
Wayanad forests lure animals from nearby parks (March Week 2 (2006))
With the summer heat picking up, the Wayanad forests in Kerala have started attracting wildlife from the adjoining national parks in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, forcing Forest authorities to step up anti-fire and anti-poaching measures, reports The Pioneer.
Forest guards since last week have seen groups of animals, including elephants, journeying into Wayanad from Nagarhole and Bandipore in Karnataka and Mudumalai in Tamil Nadu.
Availability of plenty of water and feed as well as thick and dark foliage have drawn the animals, escaping scorching heat and wildfires in the neighbouring national parks, Forest officials said.
"Wayanad has about 20 check-dams across streams and rivulets and 50 to 60 rainwater holes, where the moving animals can slake their thirst. Besides, the area has been made free from forest fire threat by taking effective steps," Deputy Conservator of Forest Phaneendra Kumar Rao, told PTI here.
Apart from normal steps like creation of 'fireline,' forest protection committees had been formed in fire-prone areas to rope in people's support for forest protection measures, he said.
Twenty anti-poaching squads had been formed this year by dividing the wildlife sanctuary into separate sections. Copious summer showers this season also augured well for Wayanad making it ideal for the seasonal visitors.
Consensus after census: Help! (Issue of the week, March Week 1 (2006)) The Indian Express who first broke the story of tiger numbers being suspect in Ranthambore reported on the latest census figures with the telling caption above.
Buzz is tiger count down from official 47 to about 15; Ranthambhore DFO says ‘we will lose everything’ if prompt action isn’t taken.
Alarm bells are ringing in India’s showpiece tiger reserve, the Ranthambhore National Park, and the man ringing them is the one in charge Deputy Field Director Raghuveer Singh Sekhawat.
With the three-day carnivore census indicating a figure even lower than last year’s “corrected estimate” of 26, Sekhawat’s call couldn’t be clearer: “The Centre, the state and non-state agencies must come together immediately or we will lose everything here in the next few years.”
He has reason to be worried. In the last one year alone, his staff have done four counts of the tiger. Following The Indian Express expose on 18 missing tigers last year, the state forest department, Wildlife Institute of India and independent experts brought the number down to 26 from the official 47.
“Even that number was highly optimistic. Everybody here knows we don’t have more than 15 tigers,” says a staff member. He isn’t the only one. In fact, there is a rare consensus among forest staff, guides and senior officials. Says one of them: “We know for sure we have at least 15. Maybe a few more. But don’t quote me before the official figure is announced.”
DFO Sekhawat who took charge after DFO G S Bhardwaj was shown the door last November following an Express report on poaching in Ranthambhore, refuses to be dragged into giving a number but on the future of the tiger here, he minces few words.
“The actual forest cover is shrinking every day with rampant grazing and associated pressure. With so many people entering the forest everyday, our existing protection level can’t warranty safety from poachers. Recently, we found a foot-trap chain. Unless a few quick decisions are taken and we act at the highest level, it won’t be long before Ranthambhore and its tigers disappear,” he told The Sunday Express.
Top priority, he says, are:
• A 50-km boundary wall. Cost: Rs 15 crore. “It will stop thousands of cattle that enter the park for grazing.”
• Staff, more staff. Including existing vacancies, 238 more are needed. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje recently promised to end the recruitment ban and assured 400 new personnel for the forest department. Sekhawat’s immediate requirement is about 150. “Our staff are old. The homeguards are no better. We need strong young men here,” says Sekhawat.
• Relocation of four villages (and the remaining 59 families of a fifth) and 150 Moghiya (tribal hunters) families from the park
• Development schemes in 96 surrounding villages to take pressure off the park. Earlier, a Rs 33-crore World Bank scheme failed as fund flow stopped because the government was able to spend only Rs 13.2 crore of the Rs 21.6 crore that came in.
• Upgrade amenities for ground staff on par with police force. For years, project allowance has been stuck at Rs 350 a month.
“We know we can’t do all these overnight. But we must start, we must send a message,” says Sekhawat.
Court renews production warrant against Sansar Chand (March Week 1 (2006)) The Tribune writes that the Delhi court has re-issued the production warrant against dreaded poacher and smuggler Sansar Chand, presently lodged in a Rajasthan jail, for initiating trial in six cases pending against him in the Capital.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjiv Jain has ordered that the accused, charged under the stringent MCOCA, be produced before him on March 10 in the cases registered by the Delhi police and later transferred to the CBI.
The poacher was earlier produced before a Special court for the first time in the capital on February 16.
The accused is presently lodged in jail in Manak Chowk in Rajasthan where he, along with his son, wife and two others are facing trial in a poaching case.
CBI told the court that they wanted to first begin trial in the case filed by the Kamla Market police and later entrusted to it, in which 41 leopard skins were seized and other wildlife articles recovered. There are five other cases against him in the capital.
The CBI had in December 23 filed a chargesheet against Sansar Chand, also known as Veerapan of North India, and his four associates under MCOCA, an Act which has been used for the first time in wildlife cases, for alleged poaching of tigers from Sariska wildlife sanctury.
The agency says it has succeeded in “unravelling Chand’s organised crime syndicate” and “established the entire chain of events from inception stage of wildlife products to its final circulation in the market” and also got information about his various accomplices.
There are around 57 cases under the Wildlife Act registered against him and his family members in Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
India and U.S for a clean climate (March Week 1 (2006)) The Pioneer reported on the Asia Pacific partnership for clean energy, an issue in the limelight during the visit of President Bush of the U.S.
Answering India's concerns over energy security alongside global apprehension over rising carbon dioxide emission from burning fossil fuel, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George Bush have welcomed Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.
The Partnership was inked last year to look at clean energy production. The centrepiece of the partnership is developing clean coal technology and giving a thrust of technology transfer for renewable sources of energy. China, Japan, Australia, South Korea are the other partners in the new climate and energy deal.
The Partnership will enable the two countries to work with other nations to meet increasing energy needs of the region. It will collaborate, largely in the private sector, transfer of cleaner, cost effective technologies and practices, a joint statement issued after talks between the two leaders said.
The statement also welcomed India's interest in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme, an international marine research endeavour that will contribute to long-term energy solutions such as gas hydrates.
Led by Japan and the US, the programme aims to study, inter-alia, the unknown deep biosphere by studying core samples and monitoring boreholes, an important first step toward harnessing gas hydrates as a source of energy.
The National Gas Hydrate Programme has identified specific areas in Indian deep-sea waters for conducting further geo-scientific surveys. Commercial exploitation of gas hydrates is expected to start sometime in the period of 2015-2020.
The two countries also agreed to step up cooperation in fighting against wildlife trafficking and work together on conservation of wildlife through cooperation on park management and eco-tourism.
The joint statement noted that India had joined the global Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) through which the two countries will collaborate in the fight against illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts.
The two countries also decided to use the opportunity to strengthen long-standing work together on the conservation of wildlife through cooperation on park management and eco-tourism. The coalition focuses on political and public attention on growing threats to wildlife from poaching and illegal trade.

Seven major US-based environmental and business groups with global interests and programmes have joined the coalition.
India to join Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (March Week 1 (2006))
The Hindu reported that India has decided to join the US Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) for cooperation in wildlife conservation.
Announced by the United States on September 23, 2005, the coalition focuses on political and public attention on growing threats to wildlife from poaching and illegal trade.
Discussions between the officials of the two countries here on Thursday focussed on exchanges of National Parks and Customs officials, educating public about this illegal trade, wildlife and national park management, sharing of best practices and eco-tourism. A clearer and scientific understanding of the reasons of human-animal conflict, habitat degradation and animal behaviour is also required to be manage as well as drafting of local people to promote eco-tourism, a joint statement issued here said.
Seven major US-based environmental and business groups with global interests and programmes have joined the coalition. These are Conservation International, Save the Tiger Fund, Smithsonian Institution, Traffic International, WildAid, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the American Forest and Paper Association. The membership of the Coalition is open to Governments, non-government organisations and corporations committed to combating wildlife trafficking.
India and the United States have been collaborating in the area of wildlife conservation. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWLS) and the Wildlife Institute of India have had collaborative projects since 1989. The USFLS has also supported projects with Bombay Natural History Society and other organisations for implementation in various States to train specialists of international repute in wildlife management and conservation. The two countries have been exploring new areas of possible cooperation, the joint statement said.
Wildlife trafficking is a global problem with trading in animals, animal parts and exotic species fuelling a $10 billion trade. The problem is compounded because of a global nexus with criminals operating in drugs and weapons and needs to be tackled by a multilateral efforts.
In order to address the problem, both the supply and the demand side issues need to be addresses simultaneously. Whereas the United States, China, and Europe are the major markets, a lot of wild animals and illegal wildlife parts/products are sourced from Asian countries.
The statement said the CAWT is focussing its initial efforts on Asia, a major source of illegal wildlife and wildlife parts to the world, including North America, Europe as well as the US.
The coalition aims to support the initiatives of the countries in the region, including the Regional Action Plan on Trade in Wild Flora and Fauna, an ASEAN initiative.
Top Officials Summoned to explain Yamuna's Pollution (March Week 1 (2006)) Peeved at the authorities’ failure to check pollution of river Yamuna, the Delhi High Court summoned the Delhi Chief Secretary, Commissioner MCD and the CEO of the Delhi Jal Board to appear before the court.
A Division Bench of Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma asked the three top officials to personally appear in the court on March 1 and explain their stands.
The Bench sought the presence of the three top brass after the Delhi Government and the MCD failed to furnish any affidavit on the measures being taken to prevent discharge of sewage into the river and other water bodies, reports The Tribune.

The direction came in connection with a public interest litigation in which the petitioner alleged that the river had become highly polluted as the authorities were releasing untreated sewage and rain water into the river.
Earlier, the DJB had filed an affidavit and sought to shift the responsibility of keeping the river clean on the MCD. The DJB maintained that the upkeep and conception of sewer lines was the responsibility of the MCD.
The Board also submitted that it was formulating a techno-economic feasibility report for construction of effluent treatment plants in and around the river...
The Yamuna enters Delhi at the Wazirabad Barrage, the point at which water is drawn for Delhi's needs and the water that flows through the city consists mainly of sewage discharged from 17 drains.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have stated in their reports that the 22-kilometres of the Yamuna running through Delhi is its most polluted stretch.
Delhi, specifically, has 17 STPs meant for treating domestic sewage, of which two have been funded by Yamuna Action Plan and 10 Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) for industrial waste, reports The Times of India.
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