Press on Environment and Wildlife
Ajit gang killed one more tiger near Mansar (October Week #5 (2013))
Saranki, the poacher arrested from Umariya in Madhya Pradesh, has revealed during his three-day forest custody that gang leader Ajit, whose MCR was extended till October 24 on Thursday, was involved in the killing of another tiger, near Mansar, in November
last year.

 According to forest department sources, Saranki showed the spot on Wednesday, which is 7 km away from Mansar and in Paoni range. Saranki told officials that he along with Ajit, Khatia, Sheru and Kaka executed the plan to kill a tiger, while 40-50 other
members stayed at a temporary camp near Amdi railway station. The poachers commuted by a shared auto rickshaw to reach the spot.

Simultaneously, the forest officials also seized a steel trap which was used in the killing of a tiger in Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary in May this year. Saranki led the investigators to the farm of Shriram Bele, 10 km away from the sanctuary towards
Torna village, where the steel trap was hidden. It was seized with the help of metal detectors.


Activist voices concern for Ganga (October Week #5 (2013))
Aware that changing a religious custom that has been practiced for centuries is a sensitive matter, Datta wants religious leaders to be part of the committee that decided the new process along with environment experts. "We did find an alternative to goat
sacrifice during Kali puja. Now, vegetables are 'sacrificed'," he pointed out.

It was Datta's PIL that led to a court order in 2001 for immersed idols to be removed from the river within 24 hours. But it took nearly a decade to implement the order as Kolkata Port Trust and Kolkata Municipal Corporation initially refused to shoulder
the responsibility.

. In 2010, the two agencies finally joined hands - KoPT removed the structures from the water and KMC carried them away from the riverbanks.

"It is time to take a step forward and have a symbolic immersion instead of actually submerging the idols in water. We want to arrive at a well-accepted, practical and pragmatic solution," Datta said.


Panel to study impact of Hydel projects in Uttarakhand (October Week #5 (2013))
In a Order issued on October 15, the ministry said the expert committee would make a “detailed study as to whether the existing and under construction hydroelectric power projects in the river basins of Alkananda, Bhagirathi and their tributaries have
contributed to environmental degradation and, if so, to what extent and also whether they have contributed to the tragedy that occurred in Uttarakhand in June, 2013.”

The committee will also examine the impact of the proposed 24 hydel projects on the bio-diversity of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins.

The committee will be jointly headed by Prof Ravi Chopra, member of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), and environmentalist Chandi Prasad Bhatt, founding member of the Chipko Movement.

The other members of the panel include Prof. A N Purohit, Hemant Dhyani, Dr B P Das; G L Bansal, Dr Navin Juyal, Dr Sathyakumar and Dr Shekhar Pathak. The panel also includes experts from central government bodies and institutes like the Central Water
Commission, National Institute of Rock Mechanics, National Disaster Management Authority, Indian Council for Forest Research Institute, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Physical Research Laboratory and the Central Public Works Department.


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.


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