Press on Environment and Wildlife
Novel tiger census to take off from January 16 (December Week 3 (2005)) To help form a policy on conservation and management of tigers, their prey and habitat
• Survey also involves assessing co-predators
• Random sample survey to be carried out for natural vegetation and human disturbance
• GPS to be used to identify boundaries as also start and end points of `transect lines'
A census will be conducted to help in formulate policy for the conservation and management of tigers, their prey and habitat, from January 16 to 30, reports the Hindu.
The census, titled "Monitoring tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat," is being carried out under a detailed field guide prepared by the Directorate of Project Tiger and the Wildlife Institute of India.
The nature of habitat, availability of prey, type and nature of forests, among other things, will be identified in the operations.
"Line transect" method will be adopted in which a "path" is created in places that tigers frequent, such as brooks. The personnel involved in the operations will tread the path looking for pugmarks and excreta, and even listen for the roar of a tiger. Every detail will be recorded in a data sheet designed for the purpose.
It is a comprehensive survey since it will also take into account co-predators such as leopards, ungulates such as chital, sambar, boar, barking deer, barasinga, chinkara, chowsingha, wild buffalo, hare, elephant, rhino, langur, cattle, goat, sheep and domestic livestock. The census will assess as to how much forest land is used by the various animals.
Random sample survey for "natural vegetation, human disturbance and ungulate pellets" will be part of the operations. One "forest beat" will be considered as one unit for the purpose. A beat will consist of an area ranging from 2,000 to 2,500 hectares. Global Positioning System (GPS) will be used to identify the boundaries as also start and end points of "transect lines." The data collected all over the country would be collated to arrive at near-exact assessments, sources said.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Hunsur, Jagmohan Sharma, is arriving here on December 30 in a bid to train the personnel likely to be involved in the 15-day census, sources said. The entire staff of Forest Department will take part in one of the most ambitious projects being carried out in the country.
Rare species of birds rescued (December Week 3 (2005)) As many as 739 birds of over 15 species including protected ones were rescued from the captivity of bird-catchers during a raid by forest department team at Nakhas bird market in U.P on Thursday.
Rare birds like barbett, bulbul, cranes, doves, munias, mynas, parakeets, partridges, quails, starlings, storks and crows were recovered during the raid.
Endangered species declared protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection act 1972 such as black-neck crane, hill myna, Lord Derby's parakeet were also recovered.
The 28-member team, led by sub-divisional officer, Lucknow forest, MP Singh, found birds being crammed in around three dozen cages with hardly any place to move and spread their wings.
Cranes were mercilessly pushed into 2.5 X 3 feet cages. Of the nine recovered, only three were able to walk. They were sent to the veterinary hospital at Lucknow Zoological Gardens.
Sources said that a single pair of cranes can fetch as high as Rs 60,000 for the bird-catchers. Notably, crane is the state bird and a black-necked one is said to be rarest of rare.
"The cages had been piled up in a 8 X 10 feet room with no facilities of cross ventilation or sunlight. The birds would have either died or developed some disease if they would have remained there for another week," said forest officials.
District forest officer Sanjay Singh said "One Shiv Raj was arrested, while other culprits Ishwarlal, Kailash, Lala, and Jitendra managed to escape." All the accused are residents of Ghanta Pir Gharrahiya, Saadatganj.
Shiv Raj initially denied about his involvement in the racket, but later revealed that he and his associates bred rare birds at a farm on Kanpur and sell them to various zoos across the country.
During interrogation, he revealed that the racket also operates in Meerut, Shahjahanpur, Kolkata, Rampur, Moradabad and Hyderabad besides other parts of the country.
He disclosed that while rare birds like hill mynas, love birds, certain parakeets are high in demand, the latest craze in the market is crane.
Uma Shankar Singh, conservator of forest, Lucknow, said that the birds recovered were categorised under Schedule I and IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
"This means that the bird-catchers can get seven years' imprisonment along with a fine for violating the Act." Reports the Times of India.
CM clears Rs 74 cr master plan for animal protection (December Week 3 (2005)) Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ( Orissa)on Friday approved a master plan of Rs 74 crore for the safety of wild animals in Keonjhar and Bonai Forest Divisions. The money will be spent over a period of ten years.
With mining activities running full blast in these two Forest Divisions, the threat exposure of the wild animals has gone up many notches. Around 68,652 hectares of lands in the two divisions are given on lease for mining activities. The master plan will commence from 2006-07.
The money will be spent in developing the natural habitat of wild life and corridor development. The corridor will play a safe passage for animals who can move from one division to the other division. The master plan will arrest the problems of deforestation and stop timber smuggling.
Orissa objects to Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh (Issue of the week, December Week 2 (2005)) The Orissa government has objected to the construction of the project on the ground that the 150 ft high dam will submerge several villages and agricultural lands in that State and displace hundreds of tribal families and others.
The Hindu reports that Orissa Chief Minister has addressed letters to the A.P Chief Minister resenting the latter’s decision to go ahead with the execution of the project without consulting Orissa. The letter to the Central Water Commission expresses ire at the clearances given without referring them to his government.
It is understood that construction has started based on a 1980 interstate agreement signed by the three riparian states-Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. In the intervening 25 years the cost of rehabilitation and resettlement would have gone up considerably.
A meeting between the two Chief Ministers is likely to settle the issue politically.
Green bodies planned for national parks (December Week 2 (2005)) The Rajasthan Government is considering appointment of ecological development committees in areas
adjacent to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to ensure participation of local people in conservation of forests and wildlife and provide adequate livelihood opportunities to them.
The Minister for Forests and Environment, Laxminarain Dave, stating this here on Wednesday, pointed out that the step would provide a significant assistance to the poor tribals living on the margins of forests. He said connecting common people with the conservation activities would not only lead to their participation, but would also inculcate a sense of belonging to the natural heritage of the State. Mr. Dave, addressing the participants in a long march from the Ranthambhore wildlife sanctuary to Jaipur, said an experiment for associating the tribal population with the arrangements for boarding of tourists through the Nature Club had been launched in Udaipur. Similar initiatives could be taken in the forest areas, he added.
Referring to the disappearance of tigers from the Sariska wildlife sanctuary, Mr. Dave said the role of a bunch of criminals working for a gang had been exposed in this regard. He said the march would send across a positive message motivating the people at large to join the movement for environment conservation.
The rally was organised by Sawai Madhopur-based Mahatma Ishwarnath Seva Samiti, reports The Hindu.
Rare bird species sighted in Chambal areas (December Week 2 (2005)) The Hindu reported the birds sighted in Chambal in December.
Two bird experts— Munir Virani of the Peregrine Fund, an Idaho-based NGO, and Harsh Vardhan of the Tourism and Wildlife Society of India— who along with local nature-lover Ravindra Singh Tomar cruised the Chambal river on a boat and later trekked the Bhainsrodgarh sanctuary in Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan last fortnight, reported sighting of more than a dozen species of vultures, eagles, hawks and owls.
The Nairobi-based Dr.Virani is on a regular assignment with the Peregrine Fund in the wake of the steep decline of vulture population in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The first and foremost concern of the team was the status of the now threatened vultures and they could spot 33 Whitebacked vultures-- whose population is facing steep decline -- in the southern part of the Chambal river in the company of the Longbilled vultures, Egyptian vultures, Eurasian Griffin vultures and a lone King vulture devouring a buffalo carcass.
Along the Chambal in the north and south phases they could locate 76 occupied nests of Longbilled vultures and some Egyptian vultures as well.
"We could also spot seven occupied nests of Longbilled vultures at the Vindhian gorge overlooking the Rana Pratap Sagar, which extends its expanse to the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh,'' Mr.Vardhan informed.
Among them the sighting of the Black eagle, a bird restricted to the lower Himalayas from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh, was a record. "The bird can be confused with Changeable hawk eagle, which too has a black face but its under wings are also totally black unlike that of the hawk eagle,'' Mr.Vardhan observed.
The sighting was a new record for the Chambal though the Keoladeo Ghana National Park near Bharatpur has a record of sighting it ("Birds of the Indian Sub Continent'' by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp).
Changeable hawk eagle— in fact a pair of it— was spotted inside the Bhaisrodgarh sanctuary and the visitors recollected seeing it in Sri Lanka recently. The bird is not common in Rajasthan though its sightings are recorded in Kumbalgarh sanctuary and from the Keoladeo Park.
Bonelli's eagle, a winter visitor in this part of the country, made its appearance to the visitors.
A resident of India, the bird is identifiable by its unique combination of white underbelly, which is variably streaked on the breast with dark terminal bands to the tail.
Tawny eagle, a resident bird soaring high amidst the Longbilled vultures was a common sight. Also flying high was Short toed eagle, another winter visitor to the area, which is identifiable by its dark head contrasting with the white underside of the body dotted with broken bars.
A pair of Longlegged buzzards, another winter migrant to parts of northwest India, the Thar desert, Rann of Kutch and Saurashtra, showed up hovering over during the surveyors stay in the area.
The bird's preference for semi desert is known. Mr.Vardhan termed the sighting of a Dusky eagle owl-- standing on a ledge near a vulture nest overlooking the Chambal— as "remarkable''. The team recorded Eurasian eagle owl, Kestrel and Blackshouldered kites during their wanderings in the Chambal terrain till now mostly known for its outlaws. "Raptors are the best part of the many splendour glories of the Chambal,'' Mr.Vardhan affirmed.
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