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TigerLink, March_2011

TigerLink, March_2011

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Published by aditya_panda_3

A Network of Concerned People and Organisations Across the Globe to Save the Tiger.

Published by Ranthambhore Foundation, New Delhi.

A Network of Concerned People and Organisations Across the Globe to Save the Tiger.

Published by Ranthambhore Foundation, New Delhi.

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Published by: aditya_panda_3 on Apr 10, 2011
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A Network of Concerned People and OrganisationsAcross the Globe to Save the Tiger
From the Executive Director’s Desk 
Dear Friends,Fateh Singh Rathore left for heavenly abode living manyof us dumb founded. I lost a great friend and perhapsthe most knowledgeable person who could speak thelanguage of tiger. Ranthambhore National Park washis love and he knew every plant, bird, animal, stream,water-body and the friend and foe of the park livingaround. I give him full credit for bringing RanthambhoreTiger Reserve globally famous. I am sure tigers willalso be indebted to him as he could make them the mostpopular and talked about species in the world.We have lost two stalwarts of conservation in Billyand Fateh in just over one year. These losses areirreparable and the conservation community will alwaysremember them.In the meantime, lot of things have happened in thetiger front. The NTCA is trying to push forward itsrelocation programme but Government of India hasdrastically cut the budget. The Ministry of Environmentand Forests demarcated ‘Go’ and ‘No Go’ areas in theforests; many of the ‘No Go’ areas which would bestrictly off limits for mining are tiger bearing forests orare part of its corridor. But the PMO does not recognisethis, and there is pressure to let-go even these ‘No-Go’areas. The Home Minister has joined the fray and hasalso pressed for easing up of ‘No-Go’ areas. In thissituation, it will difficult to protect these forests fromthe ravages of coal mining.I have been reiterating that give at least two percentIndia’s landmass for tiger and its ecosystem. If India’s98 per cent of land cannot make it a superpower ortake the GDP growth to 12 per cent, I am sure two percent will not make any difference. But it will save thetiger and its ecosystem.We have been blaming State Governments for notsupporting the cause of tiger but is it not a fact that theGovernment of India has also shown its bias by extendingsupport to only one fifth of the notified Tiger Reserves?Compare the fund support given to Sariska in last threeyears with that given to other tiger reserves like Palamu,Valmiki, Buxa, Simlipal etc., where the habitats are stillintact and little effort can bring them into their gloriouspast. If tiger has to be saved in the country then everyreserve has to be given equal attention.India will announce the tiger estimation by the endof March. We are talking of bringing refinement in theestimation process. Stage one was practiced in 2006and now we have reached stage three. But even in theestimation exercise, there seems to be a bias—thereare tiger reserves where not even a single camera waslaid. How can we reach a national estimation figurewhen the exercise has not been done in many parks?Two among these parks are Similipal and Palamu andone would like to know how tigers were estimated here?People associated with the exercise inform that thelocal field staff have been trained to carry out theexercise which is being tabulated in WII. How reliablewill this information be when there is practically no staff or even if there are, they are poorly informed and trainedand physically unfit to carry out the exercise effectivelydue to old age.I have been involved with tiger conservation for overfour and half decades. With the experience I havegained, I would like to make a plea that we must try tosave the tigers wherever there is chance. The conceptof source and sink population was in place even whenProject Tiger was launched in 1973. It is my consideredopinion that with proper scientific support and sinceremanagerial input, many of the sink population can bebrought back to a viable one.
P.K. Sen
As each
drew to a close, Fatji’s (Fateh SinghRathore) calls would get more frequent. When was theissue out? Had we covered (the latest crisis!) fromRanthambhore? What did the editorial—and the director’snote-say? Was it strong, delivering the requisite punch?As I write now, I miss Fatji. Apologies, Fatji is sorelymissed, always. But it is the tiger who is the worst loser,who has lost their staunch champion. For us, he was atiger among men, for the tiger, he was one among them..Last year we lost Billy (Arjan Singh), this year, Fatjipassed away. Two stalwarts gone...To move on to species they lived for: What ails thewild tiger?We know the answer, we know the cure.We also know that the tiger’s last, and only, hope isIndia.But we refuse to take the tough call that will stem itsrapid decline. Inspite of the backslapping and self-congratulations, somewhere, we are failing the tiger.For the sake of simplicity, let’s divide the probleminto two broad heads: One category is the larger picture,the tiger, in context of the ‘society’—for want of anotherword—it lives in. These issues are seeminglyinsurmountable, the ones those overwhelm you in theirenormity. Where is the room for wild tigers in India,with her rapidly increasing population (1.3 billion, 50,000added annually), and her thirst for growth and aconsumerist lifestyle? How do you counter the incessantthreat of highways, coal mines, power projects andexpanding human habitation in tiger habitats and corridors?How do you convince politicians hungry for votes, andcorporates greedy for money that the highway cuts intoa crucial tiger corridor or that the coal mine sits on primetiger real estate?While we, doggedly, try, try
try to keep thebulldozers away, there are other issues that demand urgentattention. These, perhaps, are more workable. Poachingis the single biggest reason for rapid population declines,indeed local extinctions. Yet, what have we done to curbthis slaughter? Sure, we cannot overnight convince Chinathat tiger penis soup isn’t the magic mantra for manhood,but what has India done to control the supply? Why isn’tthere sufficient, well-trained and equipped frontline staff to take on poachers? Why don’t we strengthen ourWildlife Crime Bureau along the lines of the agency tocontrol narcotics smuggling?Mismanagement, or is some cases, no managementis another concern. I was part of an exercise to assesstiger reserves. Of the eight surveyed, only one reservehad a dedicated field director and deputy director—therest divided time between commercial forestry andconserving tigers. Incidentally, only two of the reserveshad any protection strategy in place, and functional onthe ground. There must be an honest, exhaustiveassessment of what ails our tiger reserves, and the all-important next step to act on the concerned issues.Why is crucial tiger habitat-deemed to be inviolate, beingpillaged not by outside agencies but by the forestdepartment themselves? The Bhanwar deh waterhole, aprime tiger nursery, in Berda in Ranthambhore wasdestroyed for an anicut. This is just one among the othersuch construction (or destruction) in Ranthambhore, andreserves across the country, where civil works reach apeak when the financial year comes to a close.Tiger reserves are meant to serve
, not officersor people.Conflict: That is killing not just the tiger, but alsotolerance for the cat, is one of the most complex issues.Yet we can put in place simple mechanisms to ease thesuffering. Like speedy, fair compensation for loss of cattle,and life. Have rapid response teams in place, depots tomeet the local need for fuel and fodder.The failure of the state governments to come on boardon tiger conservation has been repeatedly stressed. Verytrue, but the centre cannot be absolved of responsibilityeither. The push for coal mining and highways into tigerhabitat is mainly from the centre, with the PMO pressingfor mining to be allowed into the recently-demarcated‘no-go’ areas. The budget for the National TigerConservation Authority, which funds protection initiativeson the ground, was been cut by a fourth. The nexteconomic superpower, India, does not have enoughmoney for her tigers.Meanwhile, the worst onslaught is brewing: bychanging laws and policies, we are striking at the veryfoundation on which our glorious (but all-too-short)conservation history is based. The Forest Rights Actweakened the Wildlife Protection Act and largely strippedaway the sanctity of Protected Areas. Its impact on wildhabitats has been discussed in detail in previous issues(look for it also under ‘Focus’), but a new set of recommendations for FRA rules by the very influentialNational Advisory Council will be disastrous for wildhabitats as they open up ‘rights’ in PAs even further.India announces her tiger estimates shortly. But reportsfrom the field indicate that the exercise was not a thoroughone—in some cases cameras didn’t work. In others,cameras have not even been set up. Why are we rushingthen to announce numbers at a grand tiger mela?Indications are that tiger numbers have increased, butthe relevance of numbers diminishes when we considerthat a chunk of it is tiny, fragmented populations withlittle genetic viability. Corridors connecting thesepopulations are crucial to their survival.To end on a positive note, the tiger reserves weassessed fall in India’s ‘red corridor’ impacted by left-wing extremism. Most, like Nagarjunasagar, Valmiki andSimilipal were previously written off. But here, far fromthe spotlight, lie India’s untapped treasures. They havetremendous potential. Let’s put in our best efforts to raisethese-and other such-reserves.
Prerna Singh Bindra
GOOD NEWSIncrease in tiger numbers?
The much-awaited results of the second
all India
tigerestimates for the country is to be announced inMarch-end,
and indications are that a slight rise innumbers may be expected.
Most cameras laid in the field to estimatetigers for the ongoing all India census did not work till monsoon and even after monsoon only about half of the cameras were operational. In some reserves,cameras have not even been set up. Given thesituation, how will results be declared in March-end as scheduled.
Eight more tiger reserves
Minister of State (Independent Charge) Environmentand Forests (MEF) Jairam Ramesh said on November12
that India will soon have eight new tiger reservesadded to the 39 already in existence. These includeSathyamangalam in Tamil Nadu, BR Hills in Karnataka,Suhelwa and Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, Sunabeda inOrissa, Ratapani in Madhya Pradesh and Navegaon-Nagzira and Bor in Maharashtra. These reserves areexpected to come up in about six to eight months.
Bindu Shajan Perappadan, The Hindu,
November 14, 2010,
Astha Kukreti, Delhi Greens,
Nov. 13, 2010,
Nafisa Islam, Tehelka,
Nov. 12, 2010.
Good news, as we said, but on one hand the government announces new reserves, and theother the onslaught on the existing reservescontinues i.e. highway through Pench, mines around Tadoba, submergence by dams etc. Also, some of these reserves like Sunabeda and Pilibhit have beenhave been awaiting the nod from state governmentsfor years —eight in the case of Pilibhit. Fact is, thecentre may have announced its intention, but it isthe states who must, but are reluctant to declare newTRs. We also need to assess the status of the newlydeclared tiger reserves. What is the criteria on what they were declared? Were field assessments done?It is witnessed that in most cases they are tiger reserves only in name, without the requisite protectionor wildlife management.
Mukandara Hills to be declared TR 
NTCA has given in-principle approval for declaringMukandara Hills National Park in Rajasthan which
includes Darrah, Jwahar Sagar and Chambal Wildlifesanctuaries to be declared as a tiger reserve. This isaimed to function as the satellite core of theRanthambhore Tiger Reserve.
Enhanced pay package for TR staff 
In a letter addressed to the Chief Wildlife Wardens of all tiger range states, National Tiger ConservationAuthority (NTCA) Member Secretary Dr Rajesh Gopalhas directed an approval to “double the existing rates of project allowance for the existing categories of employees working in tiger reserves.” The enhancedpackage is applicable from September 1
, 2008.
Letter No. 15-3/2010-NTCA from Dr Rajesh Gopal to CWWs, Dated 27 
When Project Tiger was created, therewas provision of special pay at all levels for the staff of reserve areas, which was enhanced in the 9
planscheme of Project Tiger. Most of the states did not implement it, even though the Government of Indiawas bearing the entire cost. How can we ensure that the enhanced package will be given to the staff thistime? The other related issue is the urgent need toaddress the payment of the daily wagers who formthe bulk of the frontline staff. Wages are not paid for months in most reserves due to delay in receivingfunds, mainly due to non- implementation of NTCAdirective to expedite the functioning of Tiger Conservation Foundation and the state governmentspractice of delaying release of funds.
NTCA strengthened
The Union Cabinet on January 13 approved the creationof four posts in the rank of Inspector General of Forestsfor the regional offices and headquarters of the NationalTiger Conservation Authority. In conjunction with therecent decision to set up three regional offices of theNTCA in Nagpur, Guwahati and Bangalore, this isexpected to give a boost to India’s tiger conservationefforts. Welcoming the decision, the MEF JairamRamesh said: “This is a great step forward. There wasa crying need for decentralisation so that we canenhance the monitoring of our conservation efforts andimprove the quality and timeliness of support we givethe field directors of our 39 tiger reserves across thecountry. There is no doubt that this will strengthen thecapacity of the NTCA to deliver on its mandate, andprovide new teeth to our tiger conservation efforts.”
January 13, 2011, MoEF

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