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Friday, December 30, 2011

Sentinels of the Wild

Recently the Karnataka Government has instituted a special task force to protect the tigers in the reserves. The need for specialized and highly trained task force has become imperative in order to deliver physical protection to tigers and other animals in their natural home. 

I emphasize on the words training and hence acclimatization. I have heard of an incident in Kanha whence a force constituting retired soldiers lost their wits whence accosted by a tiger. Some firing out of fear is also said to have taken place.  I do not know how far this is true but nevertheless such a situation can be visualized easily. 

Since the inception of protected areas protection has been the biggest farce. On my recent visit to Nauradehi WLS I could see intrusion at number of places, and there are fearless wood smugglers involved in felling and smuggling teak.    

The present infrastructure at our tiger reserves is weak the forest guard is a helpless entity and easily succumbs to local pressure or lucrative liaisons. In absence of higher support he merely does his duty without any intervention. I have rarely seen presence of high officials in neighboring reserve forests, same may apply to many protected areas in India. The forest guard are easily overpowered by poaching mafia and wood smugglers in protected areas hence a more supportive mechanism has to come into picture.     

The delay in relocation process is another disabling factor since intrusion and illegal activities in the forests  are done at the behest of criminals from neighboring communities. There are some gangs based in neighboring districts and states who regularly poach in nearby protected areas. These groups are more professional and armed and ruthless towards their objective.

An armed force with war front capability is the need of the day if debacle like Sariska and Panna have to be avoided. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ramganga Tigers

When you visit Corbett from the Dhangarhi Gate you get a breathtaking view of Ramganga River. Unpolluted and crystal clear the waters appear blue surrounded by glistening white stones. The pristine river flows between low lying hills of the foothills and accords panoramic glamor to the landscape. 

The river flows adjacent as you drive on towards Dhikala Complex through the dense Corbett canopy. It plays hide and seek as it appears besides you and then vanishes behind a curtain of Sal and mixed forest trees. The forests are home to magnificent tigers who hunt beside the river thanks to a good prey base. Like all animals tigers are attracted to water especially in the summers.    

The sight at High Bank and Crocodile Pool is stunning, Ramganga and its sandy beach along side forest clad mountains.  You can see crocodiles and gharials basking in the sandy beach, the river is full of Golden Mahseer and Turtles some very big. From the dizzy height you peep right into the belly of the enchanting river.

The riverside canopy is very dense and hides wild elephants that start descending from November onwards. Tigers can be seen here crossing the road and one can track them from the alarm cries of the prey. The most striking spectacle I once witnessed was a tiger crossing the river in bright sunlight - Golden Stripes.

At the riverside Champion Road and Sambar Road are the best places to look for tigers. Dhikala Chaud, Thandi Sadak and near by places yield good tiger sightings for the lucky ones. The land of Corbett is last remaining patch of wonderful forests of Terai. Here Jim Corbett killed many man eating tigers and leopards.

But sadly the big cats are loosing ground until we do not do something the species may be lost for ever in the wild.     

*Note: You can enter Dhangarhi Gate on jeep safari only if you are staying at the RH inside the park.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Problems facing tiger reserves in MP

Tiger population in most of the tiger reserves in the State of Madhya Pradesh has increased in recent times. The breeding is impressive as on my last visit in November about 14 cubs at various stages could be seen at Bandhavgarh Park. But the encouraging survival rate is beset with other problems.

The threat is from external factors like poaching, man animal conflict, diseased livestock and territorial scuffles due to shortage of habitat.     

The security is poor as the due to understaffing as per news the post of forest guards, foresters, rangers,  needs to be filled on urgent basis. The funding is crucial for the survival of conservation centers in the state. The funding is falling short and is not enough to enable relocation of villages from the core zone and perhaps the buffer. 

Relocation is an answer to the man animal conflict which all the reserves face. The timely implementation is not possible due to severe fund crunch.

The center has taken an initiative to look into the lethargic relocation process of the human settlements in the tiger reserve. Panels of wildlife experts and conservationist have been  formed to look into the matter and possibly offer answer to expedite the matter.

This is encouraging if we have to save the tiger, inviolate space should be secured and possibly increased so as to form effective corridors and prevent inbreeding by encouraging migration. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tiger Photography by Micheal Vickers

Tiger by Micheal Vickers

Micheal Vickers is passionate about tigers and travels often on quest. His images have been published in BBC Wildlife Magazine and many other acclaimed journals.
This is a greeting I have received from him. The photo below speaks for itself.  All the best Micheal.