Press on Environment and Wildlife
Most tiger reserves violate norms: CAG (September Week 1 (2006)) The ambitious Project Tiger programme of the Centre has come in
for sharp criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)
which found that many tiger reserves do not even adhere to the
prescribed norms for a core area or protected zone of a sanctuary.
While the norms for tiger reserves prescribe an average area of
1,500 sq km with at least 300 sq km as the core area, the CAG
report for 2005 found that 15 of the 28 tiger reserves spanned less
than 720 sq km.
Six of these 15 tiger reserves had a core area of less than the
prescribed 300 sq km, it said, noting that such discrepancies existed
despite the knowledge that tiger population grows rapidly in
protected areas.
The CAG found that human settlements existed in the core areas in
half of the tiger reserves, including Ranthambore, Sariska, Panna
and Pench. The result has been an increase of just 20 tigers in 18
years in 15 tiger reserves created till 1984.
The Project Tiger Directorate (PTD) admitted that human
settlements disturb tigers but said the areas were brought under the
project considering the threat to the tiger population there. The
CAG also pulled up the PTD and state governments for the delay in
notifying the tiger reserves as National Parks, which would provide
a legal basis for ensuring protection.
“In many tiger reserves the final declaration procedures of National
Park, core and buffer, were pending as of March 2006 even though
the amended Wildlife (Protection) Act, 2003, set a time limit for
completion of acquisition proceedings,” it said. The final notification
declaring the area as a National Park was not issued in Indravati,
Kanha, Pench, Palamau, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Simlipal and Kakkad
Mundanthurai till March this year despite these being declared as
tiger reserves in 1973-75. “This depicts (a) lack of commitment on
the part of state governments while denying legal backing to the
boundaries of the reserves,” the CAG report stated.
The state governments have also drawn the ire of the CAG for the
lack of any special anti-poaching drive or any stringent action in
cases of tiger killings. A test check in the audit revealed that out of
the 46 cases of poaching registered during 2000-05 in the Sariska
Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, 13 were tiger cases. The PTD drew
criticism for the absence of a communication network in as many as
nine reserves and deficiencies in creation of strike forces and
provision of arms and ammunition to forest staff to check poaching.
Several tiger reserves reported shortage of weapons, with
Nagarhole and Bandipur having 21 and 31 weapons against a
requirement of 191 and 123 respectively.
The CAG report said the implementation of Project Tiger was
severely hampered by under-staffing. And, the personnel employed
were under-trained and under-equipped. The CAG has also
suggested that all Tiger Reserves should have a well-formulated
management plan for appropriate allocation of resources.

SOURCE : The Statesman, Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Presence of leopards, wild dogs detected in Krishna forests (Issue of the week, May Week 4 (2006)) Census reveals no sign of tigers, bears and hyenas
· Nearly 40,000 acres of pristine jungle exists in the reserve forest areas
· Census conducted using the `line transact method' to locate carnivorous animals
In the reserve forests of Krishna district, leopards and wild dogs top the list of carnivores in food chain in the absence of tiger population. This came to light in the census of carnivorous and herbivorous animals conducted by the Forest Department recently.
According to statistics, nine per cent of the total geographical area of Krishna district is covered by forest. Huge stretches of the 1.94 lakh acres of the forest have become degraded and partly have fallen to encroachments. But there is 30,000 acres of pristine jungle in Kondapalli Reserve Forest and another 10,000 acres in the Gaddamarugu Konduru Reserve Forest. Large carnivores and herbivores often stray into the G. Konduru Reserve Forest from Khammam district. The Forest Department conducted the census using the line transact method to search for all carnivorous animals like tigers, leopards (also referred to as panthers), wild dogs, bears, hyenas, jackals and wolfs. Pugmarks and faecal matter have confirmed the presence of leopards (Pathera pardus) and wild dogs (Cuon alpinus).
Official confirms
Divisional Forest Officer K. Suryanaryana says that Forest Department staff and others have confirmed the presence of wild dogs, which is evident from the howling and other vocalisations often heard in the jungles. However, there are no signs of tigers, bears and hyenas in the reserve forest of the district.
A large number of jackals (Canis aureus), one wolf (Canis lupis pallipes) and one civet cat (Vivarricula Indica) have been also recorded in the census for carnivores.
Plenty of wild boars (Sus scrofa) are found in the survey for census of herbivorous animals. Marks of many large herbivores like Sambar (Cervus unicolor) and Chital (Axis axis) have also been recorded.
A limited number of barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) and four-horned antelope (chowsingha) (Tetracerus quadricornis) have also been sighted. Other mammals like Rhesus monkey (Rhesus macaque) langur (Presbytis entellus), hare (Lepus nigris collies) porcupine (Hystrix indica) exist in good number. Peacocks and jungle fowl are the large birds that inhabit the forests.
The Forest Department has created several water holes and salt licks to help the large animals to protect themselves from the heat of the summer, Mr.Suryanarayana says. The Sattemma Talli temple tank in the heart of Kondapalli reserve forest and other tanks date back to the British times, he says.


SOURCE : The Hindu, Thursday, May 25, 2006
Diclofenac banned, to be phased out in three months (May Week 4 (2006)) The Drug Controller-General of India, Ashwini Kumar, has issued a directive seeking withdrawal of Diclofenac, a painkiller for cattle. He has asked for phasing out of all such formulations within three months.
Finally agreeing with environmentalists and bird lovers the world over, Mr. Kumar has admitted that Diclofenac is the main cause of deaths of vultures in the subcontinent, which consume carcasses of animals administered with the medicine. Mr. Kumar has suggested an alternative drug once Diclofenac is phased out.
The decision to ban Diclofenac has been taken after consultations with the Director-General of Health Services and the Union Agriculture Ministry. Sources said directives had been issued to Drug Controllers in all the States to carry out the ban with immediate effect.


SOURCE : The Hindu, Thursday, May 25, 2006
Govt to move out swamp deer to other habitations (May Week 4 (2006)) The Wildlife wing of the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department would start working on an ambitious plan to relocate the swamp deer (Cervus duvaucelii branderi) or barasingha from the Kanha National Park to other sites in the state. The idea behind the move is to have the barasingha population spread over other locations, apart from Kanha, in order to shield it from possible epidemics that could take a heavy toll on the deer population.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) PB Gangopadhyay, while speaking to the Pioneer, said work on the plan would begin soon with the identification of alternative sites. "A site, which was formerly a human settlement with open spaces in the form of a meadow and swamps, would be ideal for the relocation of barasinghas," he said. Such sites would be scouted around and the possibility of finding one would be high in Satpura National Park.
Presently, the entire barasingha population in the state is concentrated in Kanha National Park. The subspecies Cervus duvaucelii branderi at Kanha is not found anywhere else in the country and is classified as endangered. There are about 300 species found in Kanha.
The state forest department has been attempting to get Asiatic lions from the Gir National Park in Gujarat for the Kuno Palpur Sanctuary in Sheopur district of MP. The efforts have not borne fruit as yet but the relocation is being sought on the grounds that if an epidemic were to strike at Gir, the entire lion population would be susceptible to it. The forest department is applying the same logic to the barasingha population in the state and is now looking out for alternative sites for its relocation.


SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Tribal Bill sparks forest fears (May Week 4 (2006)) The Centre’s plans to open up forest land for use by tribals has alarmed conservationists who say this will spell doom for national parks and sanctuaries from Kanha to Kaziranga.
And with that, the efforts to protect wildlife — such as the plunging tiger population — will go up in smoke, they argue.
Changes suggested by a joint parliamentary committee to the tribal forest rights bill, to be taken up in the next session of Parliament, has escalated the long-drawn war between conservationists and champions of tribal rights.
The revised Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005 — tabled in Parliament last week — seeks to regularise forest dwellers’ rights on the land they have been cultivating as well as forest produce.
The original bill provided land rights to those living in forests since October 25, 1980; but the revised bill pushes the cut-off date to December 13, 2005, allowing virtually everyone, including encroachers, to have land rights.
It also transfers the crucial powers to implement the new law from the forest department to local communities.
Environmentalists fear these measures virtually hand the land and forest mafia a licence to plunder.
The bill comes at the cost of the Wildlife (Protection) Act Amendment Bill, 2005, which proposed, among other things, measures to check the dwindling tiger population in the country. The wildlife bill has now been shelved.
The tribal bill in its original form had been tabled in Parliament on December 13, 2005, before being referred to a 20-member standing committee.
The original bill allowed village gram sabhas to make proposals on land rights and government officials to decide on them, but the House panel wants matters to be settled in the village assembly itself.
The committee also wants forest-dwellers to have the right to make regulations to protect wildlife and forests, which, environmentalists fear, may be abused to plunder forest resources.
The shelving of the wildlife bill is itself an issue. The bill proposed a National Tiger Conservation Authority, allowing the Centre’s Project Tiger to have direct control over the sanctuaries and reserve forests where tigers are disappearing. They are now under the control of state governments.
The Telegraph, Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Three elephants, a bison killed in last 24 hours in N Bengal (May Week 4 (2006)) The conflict between man and nature snuffed out the lives of three tuskers in the jungles of north Bengal today.
Early in the morning, a one-month-old elephant calf was killed by a speeding passenger train bound for Alipurduar. The mother-calf duo were crossing the railway tracks near the jungle division of the Good Hope Tea Estate in Damdim (Dooars), about 40 kms from Siliguri. The mother also suffered serious injuries.
In the evening, around 5.30 pm, a herd of 10 to 12 elephants gathered near the spot. One strayed from the herd and was run over by the NJP-bound Mahananda Link Express. The elephant was critically injured and has reportedly died. The Forest Department is yet to confirm the death.
Last night, another tusker was killed under similar circumstances at Rajabhatkhawa near the Buxa Tiger Reserve in Jalpaiguri district. Also, a bison was killed by a speeding goods train last night near the Chapramari railway station in North Bengal.
The speeding trains in the Siliguri-Alipurduar broad gauge line has led to such incidents. The issue has become a major point of concern for the state’s forest department.
“We have been opposed to the idea of having broad gauge lines through the forest areas. Sadly, such incidents have occurred in the past too. It only proves that the High Court guidelines have been flouted by the Railway,” said VK Yadav, Deputy Chief Wildlife Warden.
These areas lying near the forest have been demarcated as “elephant crossing zones”. According to the guidelines, all trains passing through these areas and while taking a turn, have to lower speeds—the specified maximum speed being 30 km/hour. They are also required to blow their whistle continuously while passing through these areas to alert any wild animal that might be crossing the tracks.
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