Tribal Bill-How it will affect our forests

Tiger Conservation Authority

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 26, 2006

Forum Post

A national Tiger Conservation Authority (TCA) has finally been set up with constitutional power, though heavily diluted with 13 radical clauses to placate the tribal lobby.

The most crucial of these additions says that no direction of the TCA "shall interfere or affect the rights of local people particularly the Scheduled Tribes".

As the pending tribal Bill seeks to redefine these rights,the TCA's authority is likely to depend on the final shape of the tribal Bill.

Consider these:

• The core areas are to be "kept as inviolate without affecting the rights of the Scheduled Tribes and such other forest dwellers".

• "Save for voluntary relocation","no Scheduled Tribes or other forest dwellers shall be resettled or have their rights adversely affected for the purpose of creating inviolate areas for tiger conservation".

• There are certain provisions for relocation from areas where human habitation causes "irreversible damage" or where "options of co-existence are not available". But the power to determine such cases is with the Gram Sabhas and designated local expert panels and not with the TCA.

• The right to redraw the core-buffer boundary is also with the Gram Sabhas and designated local expert panels.

( Indian Express 25th August 2006)

community reserves

Empowering communities-an opinion

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 23, 2006

Forum Post

I found this post in an MSN group and thought that it is worth sharing.

"I, too, have set out in the world determined to help the plight of endangered species. But there is little sense in attempting to save a species if you can not first save the habitat which that species depends on for survival. And you will have no chance of saving the habitat unless you can do something to alleviate the financial pressures of the local peoples who must rely on depleting natural resources in order to survive.

It is quite easy as North American and European arm-chair activists to play the blame-game and point the finger at poachers and subsistance farmers clearing forests. We in the developed world have already wiped out half of our forests and the species that lived there. Now we think we know what's best for the resource management of the rest of these "third-world" nations. And, true, there are so many complex issues facing this problem.

Most of the decline in wildlife populations directly attributed to habitat fragmentation. Most of the rainforest degradation in the world results from the need of local peoples to push further into forests to clear land in order to grow crops. However, this is a direct result of those people being displaced from their lands by large multinational agriculture industries who are focused on growing export crops or grazing cattle. This leaves the people, who once utilized their land much more sustainably and were able to consume the crops they grew, in a state of poverty and malnutrition.

Set aside vast tracts of wilderness as National Parks, and as commendable as that is, it too denies local people the resources they need to survive, leading to illegal deforestation and poaching. Poachers, miners, and slash & burn farmers are not evil people with the intentions of wiping out biodiversity or environmental destruction. They are simply trying to provide the best life possible for their families. How can those of us in the industrialized world, with our air conditioned cars, satelite TV, iPods and white picket fences realistically blame them for striving for more? To those struggling for daily necessities like food, clean water and medicine, wildlife survival and habitat conservation generally takes a backseat.

I believe it is going to take a massive shift in the lifestyles of we in the developed world if there is to even be a hope for a biodiverse, healthy Earth in the future. This will include financially taking responsibility to save these places, as well as a change in our own energy and food consumption habits, and eliminating the market for exotic species. This all starts right at home, with each of us contributing our own small part to a greater whole. The problem is, most people, especially in the USA, have the attitude "If it's not affecting me directly, then I don't really care."

Unfortunately, by the time the problem is big enough to be directly affecting people in places like the USA (as it's already beginning with things like global warming), it may be too late to do anything about it."





What attracts tourists to India?

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 22, 2006

Forum Post

The "Outlook" Magazine conducted a survey of a carefully selected sample of 150 people each in the cities of New York, London and Bejing.  To the question

 'Do the wildlife and natural beauty of India interest you'

 affirmative answers were received from

 71% New Yorkers

83% Londoners and

68% Bejing residents.

This once again proves that our natural resources are like the goose which lays golden eggs. Exploiting natural resources for short term gains could kill the goose!!

Any other

Human elephant conflict

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 21, 2006

Forum Post

" I think that compensation can only be a temporary solution and that too in areas with low levels of conflict. In the long term, we can solve the conflict( or should I say minimise the conflict) only by maintaining the integrity of elephant landscapes. This means that we should begin in earnest the reversal of fragmentation through protection, strengthening or creating corridors. I think the resources are now available but I am not sure about the will"

                                            -Dr Raman Sukumar

 ( Read the full interview at )



Leatherback turtles

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 20, 2006

Forum Post

The Decmber 2004 tsunami has seriously disrupted breeding patterns of the endangered leatherback turtle in the Andaman and Nicobar islands where 400-600 used to nest during the winter, according to a UNDP report.

The report also said the turtle population had become virtually extinct in Malaysia and had deprived the country of one of its most "charismatic tourist lures". The tsunami had caused localised damage to turtle habitats in 11 countries, the 166-page United Nations Environment Programme report observes.

India, Thailand and Sri Lanka are the worst affected, with some nesting beaches completely destroyed. Marine turtle conservation projects in these countries also suffered significant because of the loss of lives of conservation staff.

"It's far too soon to say whether this is a long-term downward trend or simply a natural fluctuation in the population size," the report says. The main threats to the pre-historic creatures of the sea, which can grow up to 700 kg or more, include mortality in fisheries, human egg harvest, depredation of eggs by pigs and dogs and loss of critical habitat -- especially beaches needed for nesting.

Engineers and Environment

Free booklets on birds and butterflies

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 20, 2006

Forum Post

Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, an Engineer and Chartered Accountant for 15 years in the U.K, returned to Srilanka with the aim of creating a million wildlife enthusiasts in Srilanka by 2025.

“Gehan’s Photo Booklet” series published by Jetwing Eco Holidays, Srilanka, is now available as booklets in downloadble form ( free download).

The first booklet of this series is the Butterflies of Sri Lanka and Southern India. Photographs of 96 of the 242 species of butterflies and skippers found in Sri Lanka are included in the booklet. Many of the species have two images each, depicting both the underwing and upperwing of the butterfly. For some of the species where sexual dimorphism is present, images of both sexes are included. Images of Sri Lanka’s largest species of Butterflies such as the Blue Mormon, Common Birdwing and the endemic Ceylon Tree Nymph are included in the booklet.

The second booklet of the series is the Birds of Sri Lanka and Southern India. All the photographs in these booklets have been taken by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, CEO of Jetwing Eco Holidays. To encourage and facilitate a wide a audience, especially school children to learn and identify the butterflies and birds they encounter, the species names have been given in three languages (English, Sinhala and Tamil). The booklets can also be used in Southern India as Sri Lanka shares many of the butterfly and bird species with Southern India.

Here is the link for the downloads


nature/wildlife films


Posted by Susan Sharma on August 10, 2006

Forum Post

A country with no natural wealth of its own, is attracting tourists worldwide who want to study animal behavior. This country is Singapore. Jurong Bird Park and Santosa Island are must visits for wildlife lovers.

The open zoos of Singapore educate, conserve and entertain. The need to protect endangered species is communicated so well through these efforts that corporates invest liberally in the upkeep of the Singapore Zoological Gardens. The butterfly and insect sections, the Dolphin Island and other nature related sections of the Zoo are crowd pullers.

Short two minute video clips of my visit are uploaded at the following links

NOTE:   In case the links do not open, cut and paste the urls in your browser. Use the BACK button in your browser to come back to IWC Blog.

"Sky Meets Sea"

"Animals Teach"

Hope you like watching them. I look forward to your comments.


Environmental Education

Educating the greedy of the world

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 06, 2006

Forum Post

Illegal trade in endangered species can't be attributed to socioeconomic factors. People doing this, in most cases, have other means of finding income. It is pure greed and the ability to manipulate the uneducated tribals which fuel a flourishing trade.

Most people committing wasteful acts are doing it out of ignorance. Will creating awareness help? Yes, to some extent. Will Environment education help? Yes to a large extent. Not just informing them about the issues but also providing solutions.

Environmental Education

Media and Educators -a distinction

Posted by Susan Sharma on August 03, 2006

Forum Post

There could be a reason why -quote- the "newly industrialized" countries are not starting from the enhanced ideas on environmental protection unquote-.

The way I see it, it is a communication problem. "Marketing" is an important issue, not only with environmental problems but with most problems in general. It is not only important to identify a problem, it is equally important to be able to present it to the public in a way that people can identify with it and express it in a way that is easy to comprehend.

Problem solving in a developed country has to be adapted to the realities of a a developing country. Who will do this job? Our own environmental educators have this big responsiblity.

Media generates public interest, but stops short of suggesting solutions to problems. That is where environmental educators must pitch in.


Environmental Education

We already have the Information Needed

Posted by Amin Adatia on July 31, 2006

Forum Post
The information needed to protect and enhance the environment is and has been available. The only thing that has not changed is, as you say, the greed and short-sightedness. It is a wonder why the "newly industrialized" countries are not starting from the enhanced ideas on environmental protection. But then, they are neither too concerned about the safety of the workers. Cheap labour and "throw-away" human resources a plentiful. Why would this be any different than the way the IT companies have been treating the workers -- cheap labour so that the "Developed" countries can still exploit. Maybe having been exploited for over 400 years has something to do with it.
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