Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Tags : forest, crocodile census
Posted: Wednesday, Nov 04, 2009 at 0226 hrs
The Forest Department in Vadodara is all set to conduct its crocodile census in the second week of November after a gap of almost a decade. The last official survey was done in 2001.
The census assumes significance as Vadodara is one of the few cities in the country to boast of a crocodile population.
Conservator of Forests, Vadodara, D P Tipre told The Indian Express: “We are waiting for the winter to set in. When the temperature dips, the crocodiles come out to bask and that will be the best time for us to count them. In the meantime, we are coordinating with different organisations which are into rescue work.”
During the 2001 census, the official crocodile count was 70. This time, the Forest officers are expecting the count to improve.
The survey holds a lot of importance as there is no concrete data on the population of crocodiles, which will be required for the upcoming crocodile project to be taken up by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) under the ongoing Vishwamitri River project worth Rs 350 crore.
“Conducting a census is not an easy task. We will need properly trained staff for the job. We have decided to take the help of the NGOs as well,” said an officer.
But it is still unknown whether the Forest Department will consider tagging these reptiles.
“Tagging crocodiles will result in several inputs. We will be able to see their migration pattern and routes. But again it requires a lot of funding,” said a forest officer.
The state Forest Department found the carcass of a lioness from the Tulsishyam range in Gir forest in the district, officials said on Saturday. The big cat was killed by a sharp weapon.
The carcass of a seven-year-old lioness was found on Thursday night from the protected forest area. It was then brought to the Forest Department’s Jasadar medical clinic for animals for a postmortem, they said.
As per the postmortem report, the lioness had received several wounds on the left side of her chest by a sharp weapon, the officials added.
The Forest Department has launched an investigation into the suspected poaching incident and Regional Forest Officer B P Ranparia is heading the inquiry.
Department officials said that this is a case of poaching and they will leave no stone unturned to get to the culprits.
Two years ago, nine lions had been killed in separate incidents by a gang of poachers from Madhya Pradesh. The Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the last abode of the Asiatic lion. A 2005 census had found 259 lions in the sanctuary. The next such census is likely to be conducted in 2010.
Next, is this why Gir is in trouble?!
Lion census is set to begin shortly at the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, and the state Forest Department may also take up GIS mapping this time. But in an irony of sorts, a recent training conducted by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has shown that only 16 per cent of the total staff manning the sanctuary actually knows the exact application of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. About 490 Gir staff had attended the first-ever WTI training in Gujarat.
Rakesh Singh, WTI Coordinator, told The Sunday Express: “The training was conducted from December 9 to 25 and had two segments. In some cases, it was disappointing to know that the forest officials were not even aware of the application of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Under this Act, every forest officer is empowered to arrest a person, detain vehicles and even seize property if he comes across any wildlife crime. However, not many forest guards and range forest officers were aware about this.”
He added: “There were multiple choice questions in the post training session. Only 50 per cent of the total participants were able to identify the pug/hoof marks of antelopes, lions, sloth bear, chital, hyena, sambhar and black bucks.”
WTI officials said most of the forest officers had already completed 30 years of service as beat guards and range officers.
“The Forest Department has been giving training to the frontline staff, but most of them failed to answer basic queries such as how crime investigation should be done,” Singh said. He also did not rule out that a lack of understanding of wildlife could lead under-reporting of cases.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
New Delhi: The year 2010 maybe the international year of biodiversity but India's biodiversity hotspots are facing an unprecedented onslaught. The Standing Committee of the National Board of Wildlife, under the Chairmanship of Minister Jairam Ramesh has recently cleared roads, dams and mining projects through national parks and sanctuaries – the last vestiges for endangered wildlife.
Minister of Environment, Jairam Ramesh who has cleared no less than 15 road, dam and mining projects inside India's National Parks and sanctuaries, may have sounded the death knell for India's most endangered wildlife. These include:
A Limestone Mining Plant on the boundary ofRajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, one of the finest habitats for the Tiger.
65 Hectares of forest land to be chopped for 3 roads passing through Gangotri National Park, home to snow leopard, blue sheep and black bear
Submergence of 1000 hectares of forest for a dam at Narasimha Wild Life Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, home to the critically endangered Jerdon Courser bird..
Diversion of 240 hectares of forest land for a 400 KV Transmission line and 21 hectares for an underground oil pipeline both at the Gujarat Wild Ass Sanctuary, only home to the Indian Wild Ass.
Diversion of forest land for a high-power transmission line by Power Grid Corporation in Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary, home to elephants, barking deer, sloth bears and leopards
Diversion of forest land for road-widening by the Border Roads Organization in Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttaranchal, home to the highly endangered musk deer.
Wild expert Belinda Wright said, “We have such few areas of prime forest land that are within our protect area network. And we just cannot afford to lose even an inch of them.”
However, Minister Jairam Ramesh disagrees.
Jairam said, “You are being unfair, you are being very selective. There are number of projects that have been put on hold or rejected. The job of my Ministry is not to say no all the time. My job is to find a balance between environment and development.”
National parks and wildlife sanctuaries form less than 4 per cent of India's land surface. In the International Year of biodiversity a complete halt on deforestation in these areas maybe the last hope of survival for India's endangered animals.
The declared river dolphin as the National Aquatic Animal of India on October 5 last year and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red-listed it as an endangered animal in 1996. Following this, the Gangetic dolphin was included in the Schedule-I of the Indian Act, 1972.
Researchers Dr Debojit Baruah of the Department of Botany, Lakhimpur Girls’ College and Lakhi Prasad Hazarika, of the Zoology Department, North Lakhimpur College, said, while talking to The Assam Tribune, that the LSHEP dam may be responsible for complete annihilation of the Subansiri dolphin species. They are doing research on the present environmental and biodiversity status of the downstream of Subansiri river basin, riparian zone and forests, assessing the pre- impact of the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri dam.
They alleged that the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC, the implementing agency of the LSHEP, had deliberately avoided inclusion of Gangetic Dolphin in the environment impact assessment (EIA) report of the project for easy environmental clearance.
Moreover, the NHPC authorities have repeatedly been committing serious violations of both the Forest Conservation Act 1980, and the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 1994 of theGovernment of India.
These violations have led to increased sediment load in the Subansiri downstream. The sediment load comparison is made taking 2003 as the base year, when the construction of the LSHEP dam was not started. The data for the purpose were collected mainly at Chawldhowa Ghat.
Increased sediment load has compelled the dolphins to change their original territory. The migration of the dolphins towards the deeper regions of the down stream during the lean period in 2009 is an indicator of river health degradation caused by sediment dumping.
The sediment load on the river increased by 39.21per cent and 43.65 per cent in 2008 and 2009 respectively in comparison to 2003.
A recent survey conducted under the research project, indicates that there are now 29 Gangetic dolphins (Platanista gangetica gangetica Roxburgh) in the downstream of the river. In 2006, there were 21 dolphins in these areas. The year-round sufficient discharge— minimum 252 to 550 cubic metres per second (cumecs) in lean period itself— of the river provides the primary survival condition for the animal.
As a whole, dolphins are usually sighted in the confluence point with the Brahmaputra and in certain spots like confluence of river Dikrong, Ranga, Luit etc with the Subansiri.
Unregulated Subansiri maintains downstream hydrology by longitudinal connectivity, facilitates adequate, biologically productive water, and creates a safe habitat for the dolphins.
Greater richness and diversity of preferred prey fishes like Aorichthys, Wallago, Eutropiichthys, Clupisoma (Ahri, Bheu, Borali, Vacha, Neria) make the Subansiri more suitable habitat for this aquatic mammal.
The awareness of the entire down stream people of the riversystem makes it a safe haven for the dolphins.
However, the LSHEP EIA report says that after commissioning of the hydroelectric project in 2012, only 6 cumecs of water will be released to maintain the down stream flow for 20 hours in a day. This massive reduction in down stream flow discharge, will wipe out the Gangetic dolphins from the Subansiri forever, warned the researchers. (LSHEP) has posed a serious to the Gangetic population in Subansiri, claim two researchers working on a major UGC project on the eco-system of . They also called for long-term strategies to save this precious aquatic animal.
Dr Rajesh Gopal, member-secretary of the NTCA, confirmed that plans were afoot to start a regional office at Nagpur for better co-ordination with tiger states Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. "Nagpur is known as the tiger gateway and hence our choice. The office may be set up during the current year," Dr Gopal stressed. It will be handled by an officer of conservator of forests rank.
Setting up of regional office in Nagpur is significant as there are seven tiger reserves nearby. It includes Melghat, Tadoba-Andhari, Pench in Maharashtra, Pench, Kanha and Satpuda in Madhya Pradesh and Indravati in Chhattisgarh. Besides, there are at least 15 sanctuaries in the Satpuda region bearing tigers. These reserves and part of its landscape, as per the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) 2008 status report, has a presence of over 500 tigers or over one third of all animals in the wild.
According to NTCA sources, the regional office would ensure that NTCA guidelines were implemented effectively and there was better cooperation between the tiger states. Currently, it took a lot of time for vital messages and guidelines to reach these states. Besides, the decision-making is slow and ultimately hurts conservation efforts.
Forest officials feel setting up of NTCA office would help streamline release of funds for the tiger-bearing areas. Getting money in time was the biggest problem today. NTCA releases money in September and state government delays it by another three months.
The office at Nagpur would facilitate implementation of normative standards for tiger conservation, providing information on several aspects which include protection, ensuring measures for addressing man-wild animal conflict and fostering preparation of tiger protection and conservation plans by neighbouring states. The NTCA, which functioned from the MoEF till now, has itself got a new building at Bikaner House in Delhi.