Press on Environment and Wildlife
Indo-American conservation project spells green success (October Week 2 (2005)) A report in The Hindu gave an overview of Projects undertaken in India by U.S Fish and Wildlife Services.
Delivering the Salim Ali Memorial Lecture at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, David A. Ferguson, of U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, said the Wildlife Service had supported 40 multi-year research conservation projects, identified by the Government of India as high priority issues, over the past two decades, under the Multinational Species Conservation Fund programmes. This was in addition to short-term activities and one-year grants.
He said the service had provided nearly Rs. 26.4-crore over the last 30 years for these projects, in addition to a sizable amount for outside advisors, equipment and training. ``All these projects originated in India, were designed to address relevant conservation issues, collect baseline biological data, provide options for management and strengthen institutional capacity."
Eighteen of these projects went to the Bombay Natural History Society, one of the first institutions recommended by the Government for cooperative activities because of its solid reputation and capabilities for studying natural systems and wildlife species. Another reason was the leadership provided by ornithologist Salim Ali.
Other organisations included the Botanical Survey of India (Kolkata), Wildlife Institute of India (Dehra Dun), Centre for Environmental Education (Ahmedabad), Centre for Wildlife Studies (Mysore), Centre of Wildlife and Ornithology (Aligarh), Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association (Udhagamandalam), Jainarayan Vyas University (Jodhpur), Punjab University (Chandigarh), Centre for Arid Zone Studies (Jodhpur), Guwahati University (Guwahati) and the Institute for Restoration of the Natural Environment (Nagercoil).
The Wildlife Service took up more responsibilities with the passage of various legislative Acts dealing with the conservation rhinoceros, tiger, Asian elephant, gibbon and marine turtle. Local organisations received one-year grants.
These projects created careers for several Indian wildlife biologists some of who played crucial roles in research and conservation. In some institutes, the infrastructure grew through the funding and training obtained while working on the projects.
Among the institutions that benefited were the Wildlife Institute and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, the offshoot of the Bombay Natural History Society.
Besides producing hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific publications, these projects enabled about 100 Indian scientists to receive their M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees. Many more students received their M.Sc. degrees through the Wildlife Institute.
``Species are no longer viewed as inanimate objects to be studied without context, but as parts of dynamic natural systems that function in an interdependent manner,'' he added.
Kuno set to be second home for Asiatic lions (October Week 2 (2005)) The target date for the translocation is 2008. “We are working towards translocating the lions from Gir to Kuno. This project may safeguard the Asiatic lions from going extinct,” said Dr A J T Johnsingh, a wildlife expert from WII, who is working with the translocation project.
Kuna wildlife sanctuary is considered as the best area where 20-30 lions can be managed. The MP government has submitted a proposal for a 20-year project with an outlay of Rs 64 crores that is approved by the Centre. The project period of 20 years has been divided into various phases. In the first phase, the state government will free the area of human population. Already 24 villages belonging to local tribes including Saharias have been resettled. The Forest Department of MP and WII are preparing short and long-term measure plans to solve the water and irrigation problems in these areas.
Attempts are being made to enrich Kuno with adequate prey base which will be better by 2008, reports the Deccan Herald. “We are optimistic that you may hear the roar of the first batch of five Asiatic lion in another two years,” said Dr Johnsingh.
Sher Khan roars in Naxal heartland (October Week 2 (2005)) Tigers at the Indravati Tiger Resrve, spread over 1,258 sq km in Chhatisgarh, are apparently completely safe from poachers. And this piece of good news comes from none other than forest officials.
"The whole Indravati reserve is a Maoist dominated area and guerrillas issue threats to government officials there. But we have never reported any case of poaching even by Maoists," NK Bhagat, Chhattisgarh's chief wildlife warden said.
He added that the number of tigers at the Indravati reserve, 456 km from Raipur, had increased to 39 from 29 in the past three years.
"We counted 29 tigers in 2002, 35 in 2003, 39 in 2004 and 39 in 2005. The big cats are totally safe in Indravati even though Maoists have not been allowing forest staff to take care of tigers," Bhagat stated.
The reserve forests are the catchment area of the perennial river Indravati and spread out over 56 villages where 1,440 tribal families reside. The Indravati reserve was included in Project Tiger in 1982.
Maoist activities in the Indravati tiger reserve area have been proving a major headache for the forest department.
The central government released Rs 3.49 million for 2004-05 for tiger care and just Rs 842,000 has been spent so far, reports the Hindustan Times.
Wildlife Board denotifies part of Pachmarhi Sanctuary (October Week 2 (2005)) In a move that is bound to have major implications on the preservation of natural heritage of Pachmarhi, the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife passed the proposal for de-notification of certain areas within the Pachmarhi Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh), reports The Pioneer.
The Standing Committee, however, instilled a clause that the land use pattern would not be changed.
Section 26 A, (3) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 states that the concurrence of the National Board for Wildlife is mandatory whenever a protected area is to be de-notified.
That the issue had turned emotive became clear when a large crowd of residents had attacked the range office in Pachmarhi in June demanding the de-notification of certain areas falling within the Pachmarhi Sanctuary.
A similar attack had taken place in February last year, too. The Pachmarhi Sanctuary was notified in 1977 after which all rights over the land held by citizens was suspended.
Environmentalists on the other hand were opposed to the denotification as it would lead to misuse of land for commercial purposes threatening the biodiversity of Pachmarhi.
Commercial enterprises including hotels have been accused of polluting the area and once the land is denotified, environmentalists fear the law would have substantial lacunae for defaulters to get away.
The Forest Department on the other hand is also keen on having the area denotified because as per the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, an equal area of forest land would be notified as protected area elsewhere to offset the loss.
The Forest Department has identified a forest area near Sohagpur for the purpose that is free of any habitation.
It has suggested denotification of some areas - the Cantonment Board and 16 peripheral villages - under the Special Area Development Authority (SADA).
At least 23,000 persons would be affected by the denotification. After denotification, the owners of the land would be free to sell the land but the land use would remain unaltered.
Sources in the Forest Department suggest that the land use clause would prevent commercial exploitation by the hotelier lobby.
Sources also points out that the ratification by the board is only one step in a long drawn procedure for de-notification.
The Supreme Court in an order in 2000 had stated that all issues pertaining to the denotification of protected areas should be referred to it.
ENT surgeons plan anti-pollution drive (October Week 2 (2005)) ENT surgeons will launch a campaign against noise pollution that is causing loss of hearing and air pollution that leads to sinusitis and allergies among people. The Association of Otolaryngologists of India (AOI) State president C.V.Ramana Rao told newspersons here on Tuesday that AOI-AP would conduct a study and make recommendations to the Government. The incidence of "nerve deafness" caused by sound pollution was on the rise. Same was the case with allergies and sinusitis because of drastic increase in air pollution.
A committee would be formed to discuss with the Vice-Chancellor of the N.T.R. Health University changes in the curriculum of the ENT PG course, he said.
The association would conduct a workshop in ear microsurgery and endoscopy in Visakhapatnam shortly. Microsurgery and endoscopy experts from different parts of the country would attend the workshop, Dr. Ramana Rao said.
Cop booked for cutting trees in forest area (October Week 2 (2005)) Mr Darshan Kumar, Policeman in charge, Kup Chowki, had been booked under Section 379 of IPC for allegedly cutting and stealing Dalbergia and Acacia trees from the forest area owned by the state government. “Preliminary investigation revealed that the cop had stolen at least four massive trees from the land occupied by the state,” reports The Tribune.
Sources at Kup Kalan village, including the Sarpanch of the village, had informed the police that the in-charge, along with other associates and members of his family, had exploited his official position to steal at least four trees with the help of a tempo owner.
The Sangrur police chief had earlier ordered a probe into the case. The Kup Chowki in-charge was sent to the Police Lines after being placed under suspension, pending inquiry. The Forest Department authorities had issued a notice to the in-charge, asking him to deposit Rs 43,000 as cost of the stolen wood. Mr Chahal said the accused had not been arrested as he had been absconding since the registration of the case.
The police sources said the booked cop had been enjoying a special status for a long period. The officials wondered how a C-II level employee could act as an SHO of a chowki whereas junior employees were working as constables.
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