National Parks

Kalesar National Park (Haryana)

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 08, 2007

 
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Kalesar National Park ( Declared in 2003), 150 km from Chandigarh, was in news recently for large scale illegal mining of sand by the builder/contractor lobby.  NDTV has done a series on this in July 2007.   The following trip report is taken from the website of Wildlife Trust of India, written in 2002.

http://www.wii.gov.in/publications/newsletter/annual2002/article3.htm

Kalesar – The Pride of Haryana
- Bivash Pandav

Pandav, what are you going to do this Saturday and Sunday? That’s what Dr. Johnsingh asked me over phone. I immediately knew that it must be for some week-end trip to some wildlife rich forest nearby. So quick came the reply from me, Sir I am free. Next moment Dr. Johnsingh asked me how about going to Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary in Haryana.  The picture of Haryana in my mind was that of crop fields and Poplar (Populus deltoids) plantations. But what I saw after reaching Kalesar was an eye opening experience.

We left Dehradun early in the morning and took the Kadwapani forest road north of Shivaliks but parallel to the hill range. Both sides of the road to Kadwapani have luxuriant growth of Sal. During my earlier visits to this forest (largely on foot) I have had occasional encounters with sambar, barking deer, wild pig and Himalayan yellow-throated marten. As the northern slopes of Shivaliks are not ideal habitats for ungulates (because of absence of grass and dominance of unpalatable shrubs such as Ardisia solanacea, Clerodendron viscosum, Colebrookia oppositifolia, and Glycosmis pentaphylla in the understory), encounter rates of all these animals in this forest is extremely low. Moreover, the few herbivores inhabiting this patch of forest are also subjected to heavy poaching from nearby villagers. However, this Sal patch on the northern slope of Shivalik hills is very rich in bird life. Flocks of White crested laughing thrush and four to five individuals of Indian pied hornbill in a flock are not an uncommon sight in this forest. After a drive of about 15km along this road  we reached Chakrata-Saharanpur road. Then we drove towards Saharanpur along the meandering road across the Shivaliks of Timli Forest Range. Gujjar dheras were present here and there and from a distance the hills looked like an excellent goral habitat. Elephant dung in a few places in the rau indicated the occasional visit of the pachyderms.

After reaching Badsahibag we left the Chakrata-Saharanpur road and took a right turn towards the Yamuna canal. The serene look of river Yamuna was quite exciting. Anyone who has seen Yamuna flowing near Delhi will hardly believe that the water of Yamuna can be so clean and the sight of the river can be so refreshing here. But the serene look of river Yamuna and its refreshing environment was short lived for us and soon we came across large number of trucks and tractors on the river bed. All of them were busy in removing sand and boulders from the river bed. All these boulders were being carried to a stone crushing unit located on the right bank of Yamuna.

All along the 10 km drive along the road which goes between the canal and Yamuna river, till Ponta Sahib, we saw good number of wintering ruddy shelducks. From Ponta Sahib, Kalesar is half an hour drive on the Dehradun-Yamunanagar road. As we had informed Mr. Jakarty, Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana, the wildlife staffs were waiting for us ready to take us into the forest to show us the tiger pug marks which they had located. The northern slope of Kalesar has Sal mixed forest. There are well marked fire lines in the forest. In one of these fire lines we got down from the vehicle and started walking along Sukh rau. Azad Singh, the wildlife guard of Kalesar accompanying us showed us a several days old pug mark of a tiger in Sukh rau. While inspecting the pug mark, Sultan Singh, another wildlife guard came and informed us about fresh tiger pugmark on the other end of Kalesar. We immediately decided to go and inspect this fresh pugmark which was in the Langdiwala nullah of Amwali khole (khole is the local name for river in Kalesar part of Haryana). The pugmark looked like that of an adult male. The nullah got narrower further upstream. The pugmark was quite fresh and we tracked it for 500 m along the nullah. On our way back we had a beautiful sighting of two gorals, a mother with a young. After seeing us both ran in different directions. It was amazing to see the mother goral negotiating the >70o slope effortlessly. Soon both joined and went out of our sight.

On our return from the forest, in the evening we went to the village Mamduwas, located on the right bank of Yamuna where nearly a month ago the pug mark of one tiger crossing the river from Uttar Pradesh (Shivalik Forest Division) side was seen. Most probably the tiger had made use of the aqueduct below the Yamuna canal and had walked upstream of Yamuna before crossing over to Haryana border. The riverbed being used by the tiger was heavily disturbed by people who were busy loading stones in trucks and tractors which were moving in and out of the river bed. Standing on the bank of Yamuna it was very difficult for me to believe that a shy animal like a tiger still makes use of this heavily disturbed river bed. But the truth was a tiger was using this area and there were pugmarks to prove this.

Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses an area of roughly around 100 km2 and does not have any human habitation inside. On the north western side the forest of Kalesar is contiguous with the Simbalwara Wildlife Sanctuary of Himachal Pardesh. On the eastern side the Shivalik range extends till Panchkula. The remaining sides are surrounded by crop fields and dense human habitation. I learnt from Dr. Johnsingh that every winter one or two tigers from Shivalik Forest Division still cross Yamuna and use the forests of Kalesar and Simbalwara WLS.

In fact the very next day while walking along the Kaludev Khala (Khala is the local name of river in Simbalwara part of Himachal Pradesh), we came across fresh pug marks of a tiger/ess. With adequate protection both these wildlife sanctuaries can definitely support a good prey population for tiger. And then a contiguous patch of about 150 km2 forests can definitely support one or two tigers year round. Kalesar and its adjoining forests definitely have the potential of becoming a home for a small population of tiger provided the contiguity of forests between Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are maintained and the disturbances in the Yamuna river are totally eradicated in the area where the tiger/s cross. A co-ordinated effort from the UP and Haryana forest departments can definitely make Kalesar the pride of Haryana.

Environment Awareness

Thanal Conservation Action and Information Network

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 08, 2007

 
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The Zero Waste Centre supported by the Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association, Kerala Tourism and Indian Coast Guards have embarked on a major cleanup drive at Kovalam. The months of February and March have been declared Cleanup Kovalam months.

In one week of cleanup which started January 28th 2004, the regular dumping sites behind the Light House beach, the Samudra beach and the Guest House beach have been targeted. 225 sacks of discarded plastic water bottles totaling more than 37500 bottles in number have been fished out of the ponds, wetlands and private properties. Another 100 sacks containing discarded glass bottles, broken glasses, tube lights and bulbs , other plastics and mostly mucky materials have also been fished out.

Twenty two brands of plastic bottles including the major brands - Aquafina, Kinley, Classic, Bisleri, Golden Valley were fished out in abundance. Earlier in October, Greenpeace had organized a cleanup and symbolically packed and transported sacks of PET bottles to Coke and Pepsi demanding "Extended Producer Responsibility". This time the Cleanup has been very exhaustive and is intended to showcase the need for immediate and serious interventions from all stake holders for stopping this dumping culture and a message to the bottled water companies to take responsibility of this waste.

In the coming weeks shops, restaurants and hoteliers in Kovalam would be supplied with paper bags and paper cups as part of the awareness drive to stop plastic material use. Use of packaged water would be discouraged and water kiosks selling clean filtered water is also being setup.

Link: http://www.thanal.co.in/

Climate change and Global Warming

International Consumer habits driving global warming

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 08, 2007

 
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Activists have long accused global corporations of being bad environmental citizens. But the problems of climate change and deforestation are part of a larger phenomenon, in which globalization is but one factor among many. As Nayan Chanda, editor of YaleGlobal, discusses in his new book “Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization,” international consumer habits drive environmental devastation more so than globalized corporations. As a result, activists’ efforts could be more productively directed at building an international consensus on pollution reduction, environmental regulation and sustainable development.

Powerful new advances in communications technology relay the realities of environmental degradation and natural disasters to the world’s public more quickly than ever before. Activists are the new preachers in a modern world – and the immediacy of technology gives them unprecedented opportunities to convey their message of morality to a global audience. Building powerful movements with online blogs and instant-chat programs, environmentalists must admit that globalization might not be so bad. – YaleGlobal

Nayan Chanda
http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=9366

Climate change and Global Warming

Global Warming and Biodiversity

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 06, 2007

 
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As global warming continues, natural habitats will change. In theory, animals would move as their habitats became too warm, but due to the pace of global warming, experts worry that some animals won’t have time to adjust and could go extinct.

Conservationists therefore propose building biological corridors, natural spaces connecting habitats, that would allow wildlife to relocate. But people and development block some of the most logical routes. Most wildlife-assistance organizations don’t have the money to buy land, and displaced people would add to environmental destruction.

In Costa Rica, wildlife organizations encourage local residents living along the national park La Amistad to grow organic coffee. The arrangement is environmentally friendly and attracts tourists, bolstering local income. Such local and private efforts are small in scale – and slowing the pace of global warming, protecting biodiversity and a way of life for many communities in any lasting way, requires government action and international cooperation.

Source:  http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=9400

 

Engineers and Environment

Two wheeler pollution

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 06, 2007

 
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Motorcycles typically get about double the gas mileage of even the most fuel-efficient cars—but that doesn’t mean they are green. They spew up to 15 times more pollution per mile, mostly in the form of smog-causing hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.

CSE Findings

The Green Rating of Indian Industry project was started by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 1996.  According to CSE, among the two and three wheelers,  models of Hero Honda (Splendor and CD 100) are the most eco friendly two wheelers. They have scored above average in vehicle and engine design and are one of the very few four-stroke two wheeler fitted with any kind of pollution control equipment.
Bajaj boxer,  has scored well in vehicle and engine design but lacks in emission control equipment and comparatively poorer emission.
The best performing two-stroke model ranks fourth amongst the two wheelers. The lowest score has been obtained by Kinetic Safari moped, which obtained average scores in design and emissions and very poor scores in pollution control equipment and emissions.


Battery powered?
In the meantime, Evera Auto India is set to launch a battery powered motorcycle in the northern states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in July.
The company based in Firozabad (Uttar Pradesh)is hoping to corner a niche segment in the expanding two-wheeler market with the launch of the eco-friendly vehicle. The motorcycle has been built indigenously and will be launched in the third week of July according to  Mukesh Bansal, promoter of Evera Auto India.

A battery that runs a 250-watt motor powers the motorcycle, making it a non-polluting vehicle. After being charged for six hours, the motorcycle can run for 80 km at a maximum speed of 25 km per hour.

"Till now, the electric powered motorcycles that were available in India were imported from China. We have worked over the technology of this motorcycle for the last two years," Bansal said.

"We are targeting a specific class who have to travel 10-15 kilometres everyday. The running cost of the vehicle is extremely low. The only price that the owner has to pay is the charging cost of the battery."

The motorcycle will be priced somewhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 32,000 ($600-780) and the company expects a good sale in the first year of its launch.

( Source: Various Media reports )

Film Reviews- Wildlife, Nature and Environment

"The Great Indian Tiger Crisis " wins award

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 05, 2007

 
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"The Great Indian Tiger Crisis" won the award for Best Point of View  at the International Wildlife Film Festival 2007 at Montana, USA

Synopsis

The Great Indian Tiger Crisis

Mirror Films Private Limited

Producer: Arindam Mitra

India was shocked to learn, in early 2005 that some of her Tiger Reserve Forests had actually no tigers left. The Prime Minister set up a task force with eminent conservationists and sent them out on a fact finding mission across the length and breadth of the vast number of Reserve Forests. This film stalks the task force to unearth shocking facts and becomes an important critique of the conservation policies in India. Part road movie, part fact finding, part political discourse and part philosophy this is a fascinating piece of film too. (77 min)

 

Tiger Task Force Report

"The Great Indian Tiger Crisis" Film has won an award

Posted by Susan Sharma on July 05, 2007

 
Forum Post

"The Great Indian Tiger Crisis" won the award for Best Point of View  at the International Wildlife Film Festival 2007 at Montana, USA

Synopsis

The Great Indian Tiger Crisis

Mirror Films Private Limited

Producer: Arindam Mitra

India was shocked to learn, in early 2005 that some of her Tiger Reserve Forests had actually no tigers left. The Prime Minister set up a task force with eminent conservationists and sent them out on a fact finding mission across the length and breadth of the vast number of Reserve Forests. This film stalks the task force to unearth shocking facts and becomes an important critique of the conservation policies in India. Part road movie, part fact finding, part political discourse and part philosophy this is a fascinating piece of film too. (77 min)

Anthropomorphism

House Sparrows attack

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 29, 2007

 
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Here is an amusing story from Ahmedabad. A flock of sparrows has been pecking at three friends living in Ahmedabad since three days. The pecking is so severe that the men cannot go out of their homes and one day the birds even chased the men nearly a kilometer away.

It all started from an effort by Shastri and his friends to help two fledglings, which fell from their nest after being attacked by a cat in his frontyard. "The sparrows thought we had killed her babies and started pecking us on the head." said Shastri. The friends thought that was the end, but in the evening, they were attacked again by the sparrows near a pan shop. The next day too, the sparrows had not forgotten them. The men are now planning ways to sneak out of their homes.

Source Times of India June 29, 2007

National Parks

A visit to Kruger Park in South Africa

Posted by Jacob Koshi on June 27, 2007

 
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A visit to Kruger Park in South Africa

-Jacob Koshi M

Flights to South Africa from India are operated by Qatar Airways, Emirates, South African Airways etc. One can book tickets through the travel agent or directly through the internet.

In case of planning to club with visits to another country, request for Multiple Entry visas from the South African Embassy in Mumbai. Booking can be made through the net for stay in the tourist lodges or hotels near the Kruger Park. I stayed in a resort called Kruger Park Lodge which is close to Kruger Park. Bookings can be made through the internet to this place. Or if one is a member of Mahindra Resorts or RCI, they have affiliations to this place.

For those who intend to visit the Kruger Park, the following description & tips will help in planning the trip. 

Johannesburg to Nelspruit 350 kms Nelspruit to Whiteriver 23 kms Whiteriver to Hazyview 45 kms Hazyview to Paul Kruger Gate 41kms. Total = 459kms

 City bug (the 14 seater minibuses) operates from Joberg airport to Hazyview for Rand 200/- You can book your tickets online on www.citibug.com & pay using your credit card sitting in India.  The driver will have a computerised list of passengers. Show them your identity & he will take you in. There are other minibus operators also through whom you can book your tickets. Book your tickets both ways mentioning your date of journey & date of departure. For travel from Hazyview to Kruger Park Lodge (which is outside the Kuger Park), one can email & request for the Lodge’s vehicle for pickup for this small distance. This way, one can save lot of money for transport.

The lodge will arrange pick up from Joberg airport, but the rates will be prohibitively expensive. Once inside the resort, book your trips with tour operators who liaise with the lodge. Give them your preference of next day’s trips (they will explain over the phone the type of trip, rate etc) & your credit card number as security, they will collect you from your chalet at the preset time & drop you back after the trip.

In my case, I have booked a jeep safari trip starting at 5.45am & ending at 12.30pm.  Carry some cloths for the cold weather. The Kruger Park Lodge is an upmarket resort with spotless cleanliness & equipped with all the necessary things required for stay.  If you want to avoid using the restaurant for all the meals, (The restaurant & office building is some distance away from your chalet) buy breakfast items, eggs etc from the supermarket which is close to the lodge, but outside the lodge & store in the fridge. The restaurant food is purely continental & provide for lunch or dinner.  Besides, beer is very cheap & is available at restaurants.  International credit cards issued from India are acceptable for payment in South Africa.

Cell phones have full range even in the remotest area since connectivity is through the satellite. So, it is advisable to carry your cell phones from India for calling anywhere in the world. (You should take a SIM card with international roaming facility to call or receive, the rates of which have come down considerably after my visit) Carry your camera, binoculars & a powerful torch for viewing animals at night like deer, hippos etc at night from your chalet.

 

Kruger Park visit can be clubbed with a visit to diamond & gold mines on your return to Johannesburg.   All purchase made in SA will be charged VAT which can be claimed back at airports of departure in the prescribed counters.

Jacob Koshi M ( Click on the photo)

Little Known Destinations

Aravali Biodiversity Park

Posted by Susan Sharma on June 25, 2007

 
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Nature does not protest, it adapts!







Nature does not protest, it adapts!

The Delhi bird Group organized a Sunday morning walk in the Aravali Biodiversity Park, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. Here are some thoughts from the walk.

The Aravali Bio diversity Park is formed out of degraded land reclaimed from the business house of Scindias who had a mining lease for the 2.3 sq.km area. This means that anything that can be plundered out of the forest/earth including mica, sand and water have all been taken out.

So instead of the sprawling forest the ridge was once, we have land pockmarked by pits and hillocks with "Vilayati Keekar" growing all over, thanks to the areal seeding done by the forest department.

2004- Enter the DDA and Delhi University. The pits are cemented (with biodegradable slurry) to encourage rainwater retention. Native trees are planted under a systematic planting program to slowly remove the "Vilayati Keekar", which being an exotic species do not harbour native insects or birds.

June 2007 - A group of nature lovers take a walk in the Park. Dr. M.Shah Hussain along with Dr.Yasir lead the walk.

Coppersmith! little cormorant in flight! Koyal! Parakeets! The birders are excited at almost every turn.

As we walked on, Indian Robin, Red Vented Bulbul, White Eared Bulbul, Purple sunbird, common Mynas, Wren Warbler and some flying Black kites become common sightings during the trail. Plain tiger butterflies and blue pansy flitted about in the area
where native vegetation has started taking root.

At least a couple of peacocks showed up close; though the morning was pierced by their calls often.

Every now and and then a thundering sound of planes taking off from the airport nearby kept reminding us we are not far from an international airport.

As we reached the periphery of the park, a bevy of peahens took off into the air. Monsoon is expected in a week, and all of them must be having eggs about to be hatched or just hatched chicks. A group of over 30 walkers would have set the alarm calls for them. They have chosen the nursery space carefully-slightly higher ground with thick bushes so that rainwater will not harm them.

Do peahens also tend to remain close to each other while raising the young? So that they can forage by turn may be? Do peahen mothers care for peachicks not their own?

At the end of the walk, one was amazed at the manner in which nature adapted. The mining pits are now small water holes attracting water cocks and cormorants-Cementing the areas with bio degradable materials -the little bit of egging on by the CEMDE, Delhi University (Center for Environment Management & Degraded Ecosystem), is rejuvenating the forest.

Selective planting of native species like Berry, Jamun,Khiorni, Guava and Anar trees etc. are automatically collecting around them the natural biotic creatures-birds, butterflies, ferrals.

Nature does not protest but adapts!

Photographs in order of appearing
1.The soil is rich in Mica
2.Walkers in single file
3.Dr. Husain
4.Bird watcher
5. Natural lake

See photographs of som eof the birds and butterflies at DelhiBird
by clicking here
http://tinyurl.com/2t5mfy
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