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

Advance e-surveillance in Tadoba National Park

When Technology can effect human lives – it can be implemented in preservation and tracking of wildlife. Maharashtra will get the advance electronic surveillance system for tigers. State Govt has approved 50 high – resolution tower-mounted cameras that will track animal movement and prevent poaching in Tadoba Tiger Reserve. It also would help avoid Man – animal conflict by forewarning villagers in the area.

The above decision is taken by the state govt after understanding the density of tigers in Vidharbha and Chandrapur area in Maharashtra. This is going to be big help for Jungle authorities to study and understand the animal behavior in much unobtrusive manner.

Tadoba Tiger reserve is spread over 625 sq km core area and 1100 sq km buffer. As of now 72 tigers roam in Tadoba and another 50 big cats in Chandrapur area. The best part is that this is scalable solution. If required, it can be installed in buffer areas as required. The idea is taken from movies – one control room getting feed from whole city for the surveillance. The network of 52 towers with cameras would monitor wildlife and intruders real-time round the clock. This will keep the landscape secure, prevent poaching and help understand wildlife behavior in an undisturbed manner added by Praveen Srivastava – Additional principal chief conservator of forests ( IT and Policy ) Maharashtra.

These Cameras can be zoomed 30 times remotely controlled and equipped with night vision. The total cost is expected to be around 15 crores. Corbett Tiger Reserve, Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary and Kaziranga Tiger Reserve have already piloted the project.

The Towers would be made highlighting the areas which have maximum tiger density and maximum man – wildlife conflict.

Explaining the features – the energy requirement would be sourced from renewable sources. The alarm can be sounded if tiger is seen moving towards villages. 15 waterholes have already been covered as part of pilot project and got wonderful response. This can also be integrated in new system.

After the encouraging numbers from tiger census in 2014 the state also plans to develop Tadoba – Andhari, Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Nagpur Gorewada zoo on the lines of International forest tourism destinations – perhaps like Kenya’s Masai Mara.

Bird Migration affected due to development around Coastal India

Climate change and developmental activities lead the change in arrival pattern and habitat alteration of the migratory birds in the coastal wetlands of India.

Four prominent wetlands on the east coast of the country – from south moving upwards – Gulf of Mannar, Point Calimere, Pulicat and Chilika in Odisha.

The above were traditional hibernating sights for winters till decade back. But now their numbers are dwindling. All thanks to extensive degradation of wetland habitats.

Climate change is second reason affecting the flight. The winters in Odisha’s Chilika were really chilly which were ideal for the Arctic birds. It used to be their nesting ground and they were accustomed to the temperature before taking their flight back to Arctic. Today the numbers have declined for the birds such as greater flamingos, plovers and spoonbill sandpipers. Not only numbers but their arrival patterns have changed. Some arrive too early and some are coming later.

These wetlands in the past have successfully provided refuge to birds from different parts of the world. We got visitors from as far as North Central and West Asia, Europe and Mediterranean regions. It should be noted that not only these wetlands but the health of stopover cities is equally important. These stopover cities are used by the birds on the way to build the energy reserves before a long migratory journey. Some birds fly as far as 18000 kms in one year to undertake their migration successfully. If these sites are degraded the birds are devoid of food to refuel and they perish.

No doubt that these migratory water birds connect continents and countries. But for us they are excellent environment indicators at both global and local scales.


Tigers to be shifted from Tadoba to other national parks

Project Tiger seems to be dealing with welcome problems of plenty. For the first time in India, overpopulation of the species is forcing authorities to relocate Tigers to other forest reserves.

Chandrapur is facing the above problem and forcing foresters to think of alternative destination for Tadoba Tigers. The idea was active for some time and two tigers have been radio-collared to study their relocation. As per Mr Sanjay Thakre – the chief forest conservator all the big cats are reaching outside the tiger sanctuary. This was very obvious as the population of tigers have exploded in the areas of Chandrapur.

People close to the project have admitted that such move is happening for the first time in the country. Relocation is being looked into due to overpopulation of tigers.Tigers seem to be moving everywhere through corridors. From Yevatmal district to Pench in MP and few even farther to Andhra Pradesh – proving the case.

Tadoba Andhari reserve alone houses 100 tigers in Chandrapur. This place is surrounded by territorial forest which is pre requisite for healthy tiger population. There are almost 34 tigers in Brahmapuri which falls just outside the limit of tiger reserve.

In 2008, Rajasthan’s Ranthambhore had relocated few of its tigers to Sariska to keep up the dwindling number in Sariska. In 2009, Kanha and Bandhavgarh tiger reserves sent its tigers to Panna National Park. But both the cases were to keep up the tiger numbers to avoid extinction.Anuj Khare – wildlife warden of Pune backs up the move of relocation. He admits the Sariska was not a great story but tigers really thrived well in Panna. There is no other way to protect the species. Relocation only seems to be valid alternative.

Every effort is made to increase the numbers of Tigers. Tigers are territorial hence space is required to house them. If the density in particular area increases, it may lead to other problems. Anuj Khare also cites another reason for success of Panna story. He gives the credit to strong monitoring system, set management practices and round the clock surveillance of the relocated animal. There are around 23 tigers and 11 cubs / sub adults in the area.

With increased development activities especially in Forest areas the natural tiger corridors are getting destroyed at alarming pace. Hence more need of Human intervention for relocation. One of the reasons why Tigers in the country are now confined to few pockets. Once relocated to new land – the animals go in search of territories themselves and balance the population of the area.

Permission for the above relocation is pending and where would be their new home is yet to be decided. But strong indication is towards Sahyadri Tiger reserve. However, prey base needed to be studies there as non suitability of prey base would lead to starving. Moreover, Tadoba tiger reserve is drier than Sahyadri and pose extreme challenge of hilly area. Would history repeat itself like Sariska or Panna remains to be seen.

courtesy:  punemirror.in


Snow Leopard project in Himachal

Good news coming for lovers of Snow Leopard. The Kufri zoo (in state of Himachal Pradesh) authorities are awaiting the arrival of highly endangered #snowleopard from Darjeeling zoo. The Padmaja Naidu Park is offering a pair of snow leopard.

Only Uttrakhand, Sikkim and West Bengal boasts of this priceless treasure till now. Kufri was in news in 2004 when snow leopard Subhash and Sapna were brought there from Darjelling. But their breeding could not be initiated as they belonged to same bloodline.Sapna was from Spiti valley discovered by the locals way back then. Unfortunately, she died of disease in 2007.

This year Central govt has funded INR 5.15 crores for snow leopard conservation project. This program would take care of restoring the snow leopard’s habitat. The department is also monitoring the habitat, range and behavior of snow leopards in Spiti valley. As of now there are 28 of snow leopard in the Spiti valley.

Good time to see these Leopards in the Spiti Valley is in the month of February, as it is then that they come down to lower altitudes in search of food as higher altitudes lack prey in the winter months. Not a regular safari tour this one is for those willing to face the inclement weather, camp at high altitudes in the inclement weather, restricted food, no comforts and minus temperatures. Mental and physical preparations a must for this tour. And yes, though chances of Snow Leopard sightings are good, but no guarantees. It is the experience of tracking this Himalayan ghost which will remain with you for life. Our expert guides and trackers however will lead no stone unturned to make your mission successful.

We all await the arrival of the cubs in Himachal. Wanting to do a Snow Leopard Safari, write to us or see our Snow Leopard Tour on http://www.naturesafariindia.com





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.


Film on Kanha Zoya wins Award

Bheema Tiger in Kanha
Tiger Safari in Kanha



Film Zoya filmed in the forests of #Kanha National Park has won the student Emmy award. Best part was the Kanha forest itself which the crew experienced.

Group heard the alarm calls indicating the predator on the either side of crew – and #Indian Gaur pounding through the forest. There was silence for the next 10 minutes as the crew froze. With great difficulty the crew took the shot and fleed.

Zoya won third place in drama for 2016 college television award. Setthi beautifully dealt with the subject of wildlife and its conservation through the eyes of wildlife conservationist. it is an emotional trip to search for missing #tiger while trying to reconnect with his daughter.The wildlife background has been provided by biological anthropologist Jessica Lynch Alfaro. she acted as Sethhi’s mentor as he wrote the film’s script.

No doubt that idea of conservation is big concern globally which has stuck the right chord with the audiences and judges at the film festival.

“It’s extremely validating and encouraging to have one’s creative efforts recognized by the television academy foundation,” Sethhi said. “it’s a fairytale start to life after film school.”