Tigers and Tribals in National Parks of India

Who needs more conservation; Tiger or the Tribes of India? This question has raised a lot of eyebrows from human and animal activists worldwide.

Baiga Tribe in Tiger country
Baiga an indigenous tribe

The Government in trying to protect a highly endangered species might relocate some tribal villages to give Tiger his inviolate space. The tribes in question are the Baigas, a very vulnerable tribe found in the central forests of India. They are specifically found in the districts of Mandla and Balaghat which houses Kanha National Park. The Tigers and these Tribes of India have been staying here for centuries. Baigas practice shifting cultivation, which the government feels drives deforestation. But i think it is the development strategy of the nation based on destruction which leads to deforestation.

Tiger and Tribes of India
Tiger in Tiger country

During my recent visit to the area via Nagpur i saw expansion of National Highway 7 at the cost of cutting few thousand trees at one go. One can debate that roads and infrastructure are important for development, but not by destructing the natural heritage. It is this expansion of roads network, and small Tehsils like Baihar, Paraswada, Birsa which are accounting for more deforestation than the tribals.

Need vs Greed taking toll on Tigers and Tribes of India

It is the greed of mining which is destroying forests at a much faster rate than what Tribals can destroy over next 200 years, i.e. if they do. These tribals are still alienated from the modern civilization, hence their wants, and desires are negligible. Yes they are dependent on the forest for their livelihood, but that has been the case for centuries. If they were plundering forests then the forests would have disappeared by now. Thanks to efforts of Ekta parishad which organized a lot of walks, and demonstrations, the Forest Act 2006 came in favor of the Tribals. http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/baiga-tribals-become-india-s-first-community-to-get-habitat-rights-52452.

Through this act, the tribals were entitled to be dependent on the forest for a living. Nobody could buy or sell their land. The land of a tribal could be bought and sold to a tribal only. Somehow this boon became their bane too. Now, when in need they cannot sell their land to anyone but a tribal. And the tribals do not have funds enough to buy the land. So what does the Baiga do? This law now needs a look in.

Kanha National Park
Kanha National Park

The actual loss of forests is due to the development and GDP of the country, and not by Baiga’s dependence on it. Yes, there might be some elements among the tribals who might be involved in poaching of some animals, but aren’t such elements also found in the upper crust in the urbanized world? Who are these people who lure these simple tribals into poaching? They are outsiders who for some paltry amount get these Tribals to poach. Will the poaching stop if Tribals are evicted from their homes? No, not at all. Poaching will only stop the day the demand of the animal parts stops. Surely that does not seem to be a possibility in the near future.

Does this problem have a solution?

With just over 2000 Tigers in India, and about 1.5 lakh Baigas, it is important that Tiger and Tribes are conserved in the national parks. Fact of the matter is that the 100 Tigers in Kanha cannot be relocated, period, but tribes can be shifted as per the government.

But an adhoc shifting is not a solution. One must do it scientifically, strategically, with their sanctions and without sufferance. Not easy to do, but possible for sure. Also, if a master plan is made to shift only some crucial villages and not all then it is fine. One must remember that Baigas have been the biggest conservators of the forest for centuries. Making a forest bereft of them could actually put the forest at risk, and this the administration and forest department realizes well.

On one hand it is absolutely imperative that the Tiger is conserved, but not at the cost of the Tribals, not at all.

So what is a solution to this?  What do you say?

I can only pray that good sense prevails and everyone’s survival and rights are  kept in mind before deciding on anything that can impact nature. For me Tiger and Tribes are both integral to each other. None can be sent to another planet to survive, they must co-exist.

Best Wishes to the Tigers and the Tribes of India.

Sharad Vats

Drones to assist in Tiger Conservation in Indian National Parks

No longer it is Tiger vs Technology. It is Tigers with Technology now. Yes, finally technology will be used in Tiger Conservation in India.

When #Munna the legendary #Tiger from #KanhaNationalPark moved out from the #Jungle because of old age, everyone got worried for his safety. Where did Munna go? Was he involved in any conflict? Is Munna safe?

How do we track and conserve our Tigers in our open national parks? Or,

Did you hear about the missing Tiger “Jai” from #UmredKarandlaSanctuary?

Jai has suddenly disappeared from Umred Karandla Sanctuary.  The Forest department, NGO’s and many Volunteers are looking for him.

The social platforms went abuzz on what to do? Could technology be used to save the Tiger? When images of Jupiter from Junocrafts are available, then is it that tough to monitor Tigers? I don’t think so..do you?

If Drones were used earlier, Jai and Munna’s could have been tracked easily. When a Tiger goes missing it is a sad day in Tiger conservation. The Tiger lovers get distressed.

While i was thinking and writing, someone was planning and executing the same. Hence this morning i get to hear the good news of Drones to be used in Tiger Conservation in India. Is that not a heartening news for Tiger conservation?

After a successful trial of Drones in Panna National Park, the NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) is going ahead to use these devices to monitor Tigers in 5 more Tiger reserves of India.

These reserves are: Panna, Corbett, Sathyamangalam, Kaziranga and Sunderbans. Noteworthy is that these drones will be fitted with GPS devices, and state of the art cameras. They will be deployed within 6 months of getting clearances from Ministry of Defense in India. Clearances from the Home Ministry and the Environment Ministry is already in place. The Wildlife Institute of India is set to impart training to 3 biologists, and 3 engineers per drone. Once successfully implemented similar Drones will be used in other National parks.

Drone for Tiger Tiger conservation
Drone with Camera

Are these regular drones or any improvisations being done?

These are state of the art Drones, with night vision, faster speed, longer duration of flight, and good landing capacities.

So poachers watch out, because now it is no longer going to be a cake walk for you to take our Tigers away from us. We are serious to Save our Tigers.

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

Lions in the City

Asiatic Lions in and around Gir National Park seem to be happy in visiting the surrounding cities. So far it used to be one visit a week by a couple of Lions, but last week a big pride visited the city of Junagadh in the night. Their peaceful march through the city was recorded in the cctv on a street.

It is said that Gir has reached it’s sustainable capacity of Lion population. The apex court has ordered shifting of some Lions to a new sanctuary in the state of Madhya Pradesh, but the state of Gujrat does not seem to be happy about sharing the pride of their state. While considerable amount of money has been spent in making a home for Lions at Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, but Gujrat government has been averse to the idea on grounds like the state of MP is unable to take care of it’s Tigers so how will they take care of it’s Lions.

In an interesting development it is now noticed that Kuno Palpur which was awaiting Lions for last 5 years has now been taken over by Tigers who have migrated out of Ranthambhore National Park in search of territory. It is said that the population of Tigers in Ranthambhore is also over it’s capacity so it is but natural for the new sub adults to move out of the park in search of their own territory. Karauli sanctuary which is about 60kms from Ranthambhore has also reported sighting of 4 male Tigers which have moved out of Ranthambhore.

So it seems that the big cats are doing well lately in India. Credit surely must go to the Forest department, and i would say a percentage of credit will also go to increased domestic tourism in these parks, and awareness on the social media.




Unsung Lion Queens of Gir National Park

Talk about #Gir Forest – you would answer #AsiaticLions home as it is most protected areas in the world.

The journey of conversation started in the year 1900 when only 12 of the beasts were left. Today, thanks to some amazing efforts by the Government and forest authorities – there are 523 of them. Much of the credit also goes to Gir forests Guards and its animal rescue team – All women team.

Housed in the state of Gujrat it has dry deciduous trees and was declared #wildlife sanctuary in 1965. Ten years later it was declared sacrosanct – #National Park. The park also has #leopards, #deers, #langurs, #snakes, hyenas, jungle cats and crocodiles.

The base was created for all women team in 2007. Forest department created 33% quota for women. The authorities never thought they would get recruits like Raseela Wadher who shunned the desk job and joined frontlines for wildlife rescues. Every year more and more women undergo intensive training before joining and perhaps only women’s brigade in the world which manages the habitat and big cats.

The brigade is rightly called Lion Queens have rescued – 627 lions over the years. Not sure if this feat has been achieved elsewhere in the world.

None of the women team rescues as many as 600 animals annually – which boils down to 2 rescues per day. Their job description includes – arresting poachers, dealing with irate villagers, retrieving stuck pythons and tranquilizing rogue monkeys playing havoc in nearby villages. Their favorite part still is attending and nursing the vulnerable little cubs and other baby animals till they are old enough to survive on their own.

Every Lion Queen comes from non-privileged background – perhaps not supported by their families to work as forest guards. They had to deal with Male dominancy in this field and inherent dangers of the job.

Raseela has found herself in dangers many times to elaborate the above point. Her Experience was dreadful when she had lead the team to rescue the injured lion. They tried to tranquilize the beast to rescue him. They misfired the shot and Lion attacked them – they kept their cool like cats and boarded the vehicle and Lion retreated in the jungle.

Kiran Pithiya has got special task of studying the movement and changes in lions behavior. Kiran is responsible for saving 19 lions. She has worked through her pregnancy and keeps a watch on lions on her bike in the forest. It was her third trimester when she was to keep the watch on newborn cubs and movement of her mother. She was doing the same readings on one fine day when it got really dark. As she left the area the lioness got provoked and started chasing Kiran. Kiran realized the danger and instead of increasing the speed turned around and started shooing away the lioness. The Lioness perhaps understood the signal of forest protector and turned back. Had she tried speeding her life could have been in danger.

True to their given name – these girls are solely attached to their core aim of preserving the population of Asiatic lions on the planet. Looking after all animals and their young ones which call Gir their home. By employing them for these posts, the forest department has not given empowerment to rural women of Gir but also ensured a more compassionate environment for the animals.

Spacey and Andy Murray to save Tigers

Tiger Safari Bandhavgarh
A Wild Tigress in Bandhavgarh National Park

#Kevin Spacey – The Negotiator fame actor is leaving no stone unturned for doubling the numbers of #tigers in wild by 2022.He is getting all support from #Andy Murray who was seen appealing in a video on centre court

The pair highlighted that number of tigers remaining are even less than 1/3rd of seats in centre court. Murray wants the year 2016 to be the turning year for tigers. He would said that he would like to see current figures doubling to more than 7000 wild tigers by year 2022. Ambitious, but realistic provided the people, Governments, and forces on ground show the will power towards it. Andy Murray, a former Wimbledon Champion is the global ambassador for WWF, and Kevin, 56, delivered a message on behalf of WWF to help double the number of wild tigers by 2022. It may be the best chance we have to protect these amazing animals,” Andy expressed. “It’s definitely a challenge worth taking on and I believe we must do all we can to help double wild tiger numbers.”

Spacey added that there is still hope if we can help the tigers to recover their numbers. This is most ambitious #tiger #conservation goal ever set.


Good News for ‎Tiger Lovers

Good news for #‎Tiger lovers. 32 more Tigers camera trapped in the Terai areas of Uttrakhand. These Tigers were not a part of the Tiger census in 2015 as these areas were not included in the census. Though this state has only two national parks with Tigers, but the Tiger numbers in this state are second only to Karnataka. Good news isn’t it?