Press on Environment and Wildlife
Sunderbans gets largest sanctuary (October Week #5 (2013))
Covering 556.45 square kilometres area in the South 24-Parganas forest division, the new sanctuary will have Dhulibhashani I to its north, Bay of Bengal to its south and rivers Matla and Thakuran to its east and west respectively.

While talking to TOI, additional principal chief conservator of forests Pradeep Vyas said: "The notification (No. 1828-FOR/11M-86/2012(PT.I) dated 11/9/2013) was issued last month. The construction work for a protection camp at Chulkathi is underway and
it will be completed soon."

According to him, tourism will also be allowed in the area. Several tourists already visit the nearby Lothian sanctuary every year. "A recent camera-trap exercise has found a presence of at least 22 tigers in the forests under the new sanctuary. The status
of a sanctuary will ensure more protection measures in the forests around the West Sunderbans Wildlife Sanctuary," he added.

Sources said the proposal for creation of the new sanctuary was cleared in a meeting of state wildlife advisory board in February, last year.

Experts believe that the move will restrict illegal entry into the forests also. A study on tiger presence in the forests here, done by the Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve and WWF-India recently, had sounded an alarm on the human pressure on the forests.
The study, which found presence of a minimum 22 tigers in the forests, had also found a human density of more than 550 persons per square kilometre in the 22 villages around the newly-declared sanctuary.


Medicinal plants nursery set up in Punjab (October Week #5 (2013))
Punjab government today launched a medicinal plants nursery at Bhatoli in Hoshiarpur district to give a fillip to the state's crop diversification plan.

The herbal plants will be an alternative for farmers growing the traditional paddy and wheat crops, an official spokesman said here.

The nursery, set up in collaboration with Forest Research Institution, Dehradun, would supply over 100 varieties of herbal saplings brought from around the country, he said.

Varieties of saplings would be developed depending upon the demand, the spokesman said, adding the state government would soon initiate a campaign asking farmers to replace cash crops with these plants.

For marketing of the saplings, special arrangement has been made by the forest department. All district forest officers have been appointed as nodal officers in this regard, he said.


Nagzira tiger migrates to Umred-Karhandla sanctuary (Issue of the week, October Week #3 (2013))
Both Jai and Viru were star attraction of Nagzira and were sighted last year by almost all the tourists. Jai has not been seen in Nagzira since July 2013. Paoni RFO claimed that a male tiger was regularly seen in Paoni since June.

Bahekar says Nagzira and New Nagzira wildlife sanctuaries have only two tigresses. According to observation, Mai, mother of Jai, and another female Alpha, is seen with three cubs.

Migration of Jai confirms corridor between Nagzira-Umred-Karhandla-Tadoba. The tiger probably travelled an aerial distance of around 75km through Nagzira, New Nagzira, Kisanpur, Kardi, Kesalwada and Koka. Later, it crossed national highway No. 6 between
Bhandara and Sakoli followed by Vainganga river to reach Umred-Karhandla sanctuary's Paoni range in Bhandara district.

The path between this corridor is fragmented at several places with huge human settlements and agriculture fields. Tigers must be dispersing through this corridor regularly.

Leading NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has already submitted a report to the forest department on corridors between Nagzira-Navegaon-Tadoba in 2011. Bahekar says his group monitored Jai since April 23, 2011.


Critically endangered trees found in Sattari (October Week #3 (2013))
Researchers from the Sirsi forest college, Karnataka, along with Goan researchers have discovered critically endangered trees in a forest area at Bibtyan, Brahma Karmali, inside the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary in Sattari taluka.

The critically endangered trees are known as the Semecarpus kathalekanensis .

Only less than 200 trees are remaining in the entire world. All the five known habitats are in the Western Ghats, four in Uttar Kannada of Karnataka and one which is recently confirmed in Goa. It is a critically endangered species as stated by the international
union of conservation network (IUCN).


120-strong elephant herd destroys crops in Majuli (October Week #3 (2013))
"Elephants damaged a vast area of paddy field in Majuli last night. Forest officials rushed to the affected areas and they started patrolling the area."

Majuli forest beat officer Atul Das said the herd of elephants comprised more than 120 elephants, including about 30 calves. They were coming from the Borboruah area in Dibrugarh district and reached Majuli on Friday. They
had damaged a vast area of paddy fields in Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts before arriving in Majuli.

"Last night, the elephants created panic among the villagers. We rushed to the spot and chased the herd away from the human habitation. Both people and property are now safe from the herd's attack," he said, adding that 17 forest staff are on duty in Majuli. 


In search of the missing Himalayan Quail (October Week #3 (2013))
But why the sudden interest in the bird? "The first week of October is usually celebrated in India as Wild Week. We thought the time was ripe to try and rediscover the bird," says Paramjit Singh, chief conservator of forests, Kumaon Division.

The Himalayan Quail, also called the Mountain Quail, was a medium-sized species from the pheasant family. The male of the species was dark grey with black speckles and white forehead. The female was brownish, with dark streaks and greyish brow. The red-coloured
bill and legs distinguished it from other quail species. Its 10-feathered tail was longer, nearly as long as the wing, than in most quails. It lived in coveys of five or six and favoured steep hillsides covered by long grass. Ornithologists have recorded that
the Himalayan Quail was very rarely seen in the open, except at dawn or dust. It would rather run than fly when escaping danger, and its wings did not seem designed for flying long distances.

The quail was seen in the mid-19th century, primarily in the vicinity of Nainital, Mussourie and Jharipani. It is not known to have inhabited other forests of the country.

It was a popular game bird. It was sought out by British officers for their leisure hunting. Mass killing of the bird probably led to its extinction around the 1870s. Around five preserved specimens of the bird can be seen in London's Natural History Museum.
There are 11 preserved bodies of the bird in India.

The forest department's hopes of rediscovering the quail rest on the numerous unconfirmed sightings over the years. Fuelling the Uttarakhand foresters' hopes is also the fact that the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, has not formally
declared the Himalayan Quail extinct.


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