Burning Issues

Tiger Debacle-Part II

-Suhas Kumar

 

(Contd.from last month)

 

Securing dispersal areas and corridors: Why most shy away from the real issues:

I can understand the reason for every one who matter shying away from real issues  that are critical to conservation of tiger - the task of securing areas other than already declared PAs  appears  politically incorrect as well as harmful  to many because people who live in and around PAs have become wary of wildlife conservation as they don't see any stake for themselves in conserving wildlife. The original plan of GoI to elicit public support was explained in a document - "Eliciting Public Support for Wildlife Conservation" written almost 27 years ago, in early eighties, but very little was done towards its implementation. Besides, the financial inputs required to implement a meaningful eco-development programme in the buffer areas for the benefit of forest side communities is going to be enormous and that kind of money is apparently not available for such a 'low priority task'.Within Forest departments there is always a war going on - those who work in wildlife areas are pariahs, non-elite. Today, it is almost impossible to find an officer who willingly consents to undergo wildlife training or join a wildlife area. The present atmosphere of distrust towards  wildlife managers is going to be counterproductive;  if this continues, I am afraid that the hitherto devoted officers, who deliberately chose a career in wildlife management, would soon like to move in other directions.

The officers managing the non-PA forests were never made to feel responsible fort igers and other wildlife. Today the tiger has become a dangerous thing to them- tiger is hot potato that can burn their fingers and dislodge them from their commands or  may lead to their suspension. And, therefore, the managers of non-PA forests have now begun to avoid supporting reports of movements or presence of tiger within their jurisdiction.

On the other hand the wildlife personnel who work in remotest of areas braving harshest of conditions and without incentives are further marginalized by media, and public breathing down their neck.  I know of no other civilian set up where field personnel are subjected to such hardships. Their plight was amply highlighted in the report presented by Subramaniam committee to MoEF in 1993. This report was prepared after the committee met and discussed with large number of field personnel, park mangers, scientists and NGOs across the country. The committee gave several excellent recommendations that were only sparingly implemented. Today I am sure there may be only a few who would wish to acknowledge the existence of this report.

 

In such a grim scenario only following two options are available:

 

A.       Secure Dispersal areas and corridors

  1. Garner political courage and financial resources to support a well planned eco-development programme in villages that are dependent of PAs, dispersal areas and corridors.
  2. Implement well conceived awareness programmes to win public support and participation of  forest side communities in protecting dispersal areas and corridors, outside major Natal areas (PAS)
  3. Declare and manage buffer zones as areas to accommodate nistar by local people and as dispersal habitats for wild animals.( pl don't make the buffer zones another PA - the amended Wildlife Protection Act has just done that)
  4. Enforce a land use policy that supports protection of potential wildlife dispersal areas around tiger reserves (stop land-uses such as mining, hotels, industries that degrade its use as habitats and movement corridors by wild animals).
  5. Make managers of territorial forests as responsible as the protected area managers and equip them to combat wildlife crime.
  6. Provide funds to territorial divisions to implement prescriptions to enrich potential habitats within forest areas under their jurisdiction.
  7. The Tourism industry that makes huge profits from protected areas must become partners in supporting conservation programmes financially and also through overt actions  by adopting conservation measures in their businesses ( location of facilities, design, water and energy use, local employment, eco-development inputs  and so on)

If the above strategy sounds unachievable and too ambitious and risky, follow the one below:

 

B.Fencing off tiger reserves and other tiger bearing habitats

1.Fence off the tiger reserves and other tiger bearing habitats

2.         Ensure population management through management interventions - translocation of surplus populations to depleted areas.

3.Ensure gene exchange through aerial corridors - exchange of males among parks.

4.Create and fence off new suitable areas for preservation of tiger.

5.Earn dollars from elite tourism

I am sure the second option will appeal to most. Though, I would any day prefer the first option.

 

Concluded


Watch a clip on Kanha Natonal Park below



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