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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Save the tiger campaign - Bandhavgarh






Tirath Singh at Bandhavgarh has organized a wonderful save the tiger campaign. Far removed from the rowdy thundering motorbike fanatics who kill many on the road, the bike has been put to good use here.  About a team of twenty five young lads rode from one village to another in the periphery of Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. 

The message was simple save the tiger, it is part of us. They rode 170 km covering twenty five villages spreading tiger awareness and creating sympathy for nature's most wonderful creation. Many more campaign are yet to come. Thank you sentinels of the wild.  

Some of the other participant were

Rajeev Singh Pinku

Mahesh Singh

Mukesh Berman

RamNaresh Berman

Kamlesh Barman

Sunjay Singh

R. B singh

Kapil Tejwani

Annu berman

Raghu Singh

Sunil Yadav

Uttam Singh

Naresh Singh

Hariom Tiwari

Raju Pawar

Narendara

AMit

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tiger Tourism Beginning of the end

The bleak future unfolds as closure of tourism in tiger reserves appears imminent. There is hope that some space will be given but this is merely a conjecture. Tourism in buffer is just a joy ride in case of most of the reserves. The buffer zone suffers from intrusion and lot of other disturbance, secondly the ecosystem at most of the places is not intact. These factors do not contribute to stable wild populations. Certain endangered and niche dwellers are confined to the core zone.     

Hence tourist interested in wildlife watching will diminish and they will not arrive here. The park (Read Buffer) would be visited by holiday makers interested more in revelry than anything else.   

The major impact will be on forest guides and drivers apart from closure of most of the hotels. The wide scale unemployment will result in lots of frustration. These are the people with excellent knowledge of the whole forests, animal movements and behavior. They will be easy target for the vicious network of poachers. If tourism is practically closed then adverse means of income could be sought by many. The only answer  that seems plausible is a hefty compensation or large scale induction in the department in case of those who are in temporary status or not in the muster roll at all.         

The loss of income to the administration would mean less conservation and management efforts. Another loss would be that of awareness that was regularly created. Status maintenance would suffer or would be restricted to the department.The valuable contribution of amateur and professional wildlife photographers and observers would be practically negligible. I believe the access to core zone will remain open to the privileged dignitaries.            

With full respect to Hon. Supreme Courts Ruling time will tell the impact of the changing paradigm.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lion Conservation - War of Words

Asiatic Lion

Asian Lions where once found all over the Asia. but were hunted to extinction and driven away from their natural habitat. The big cat now survives only at Gir National Park in the State of Gujarat. In India the species was spread over at larger area perhaps in neighborhood of tiger habitats as well. Since the habitat preference of the two differs vastly a species conflict is at best a matter of conjecture.  

Threat

Despite excellent conservation measures and increase in numbers, the threat still looms large.Gir is subject to severe man animal conflict and intrusion by Maldharis. The ever increasing agriculture, pastoral practices and industrialization means end of the affected ecosystem. This malady is everywhere especially in India with dense population pockets. 

The greatest threat to the lion in India is from epidemics like FPL (Feline Pan Leukopenia). Isolated animal population suffers from many disadvantages, inbreeding is one looming danger. Targeted poaching is another. Disease prevalence is a serious issue caused by decreasing immunity thanks to stale gene syndrome.    

Relocation of  Lions in India  

Kuno Palpur was established as a possible lion reserve in India keeping the above factors in mind. The basis of the project is scientific and not political, albeit secondary tourism benefit may arise. But tourism benefit is inconsequential whence matter of lion conservation arises.   

Unfortunately the project lies unfulfilled due to political wrangling affected by myopic parochialism. In India nothing can work without the consent of the present rulers. The species needs a new homeland, it does not understand parochial loyalties and political gamesmanship. 

Kuno Palpur was its former range. The animal has been last recorded in Sagar District of Madhya Pradesh. Hence this project is more of rehabilitation program and not a transfer of an exotic species.The threat of poaching is omnipresent in whole of India. 

Keeping the interest of the endangered species in mind the project should be implemented as soon as possible.  The pride should turn into a pride of lions without hesitation.

Read Lion Conservation

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Who killed the tiger?

The cat and mouse game goes on while the tiger slithers away in India. Tourism certainly did not kill the tiger. By the time tiger tourism came into picture the magnificent animal was already in state of imminent extinction. That it still survives is because of robust equity created by tourism and its own charismatic appeal. (Conservation measures as well.)

Others see India as a soft state, but behind the garb of populist democracy some pernicious control mechanism and  authoritative systems still exists. This post colonial phenomena is the legacy of British Rule in India. What gives us credit is emergence of corrupt practices and phenomenal ability to mismanage and indecision.     

Nowhere it is apparent that tourism is the mother of decreasing population of tigers in India. Then will the spaces in our tiger reserves devoid of tourist offer poachers free fall all? Will the sentinels become complacent? Will the tigers breed more? Certainly there is lot of "will" here so time will tell.  

If fruitful tourism is banned, it will be very hard hitting. The first to suffer will be the locals who will loose employment and other means of income that tourism generates. The industry as whole will suffer and loose massive investment made. It would also be depressing for dedicated managers and staff who wish to see their labor appreciated.  

You have noticed that I have used the word fruitful tourism. Wildlife or Ecotourism is a highly competitive industry that competes globally. Large number of inbound tourist arrive in India for birding and wildlife watching. Fact remains that people wish to see the tiger apart from its brethren in the food chain. Unproductive visits would mean an impressive drop in the inbound visitors. The repercussion would be larger than perceived.     

Point of my writing this is that the tiger faces threats from other quarters. Should not we spend the time and resources fighting actual threats unitedly?  So much focus on tourism is bewildering since we have years of data that is suggestive of proper management but not ban. Maximum damage is caused by human settlements on forest and grassland ecosystems in India. Tourism inside the reserves can best be described as transitory without any appreciable resource utilization within.   

The management of tiger reserves do take proactive and protective measures whence question of breeding or other urgency arrives. Forest blocks have been closed for tourism in case of animal breeding and other urgency. This impromptu practice has been going on for years. This is not related to critical tiger habitat, a term that ensures the survival of species in a smaller area. Except for species that survive in an echo niche, tigers and leopards roam all the the reserve, buffer zone included.   

This is not a reaction to Hon. Supreme Court interim judgment nor is it a commentary on any institution. This is authors own perception of life in India.