WILDLIFE: Tiger attacks rise in Orang – so the villagers lash back, relocation not on the cards yet ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Guwahati, Oct. 19: The increasing tiger population at Orang National Park has become a cause of concern for the park authorities, with incidents of big cats attacking cattle belonging to the villagers located on the periphery of the park, on the rise.
Tigers have killed at least 10 heads of cattle last week.
“We fear that the villagers will try to poison the tigers if the attacks on cattle continue,” the Orang divisional forest officer, Sushil Daila, said.
The park has witnessed the deaths of at least 15 tigers since 2005.
While six of them were killed because of poisoning, the rest died of infighting.
The last incident of poisoning took place on August 18 when an adult male tiger was found ill and later died at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation near Kaziranga where it was shifted for treatment.
Altogether 14 tigers were counted in the national park during a census conducted last year.
Unofficial figures, however, put the figures at 18.
“There is no doubt about an increase in tiger population in recent times. We spotted two cubs two months ago,” he said.
Daila said the recent attacks on cattle were being carried out by a particular tiger on villages outside the southern boundary of the park.
“We have learnt after studying the pug marks that the particular tiger is a full grown male,” the official said.
Park authorities have erected 10 camera traps to study the movement of the tiger. “The tiger could be an old one or may be injured as such it is targeting easy prey — cattle,” Daila said.
The forest official said a cage had also been erected to trap the tiger. “We will know the exact reason for the tiger straying out of the park frequently if we manage to trap it. We will have to release the tiger in another habitat if we do not detect any abnormality,” the official said.
The park authorities have formed eco-development committees, involving the villagers, recently in a bid to gain the confidence of the villagers.
Spread over 78.8 square km on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, Orang National Park is a rich wild habitat with several species of wild animals.Daila said apart from these two cubs, the park has also witnessed the birth of at least 10 rhino calves in the past few months.
“This is a positive development,” he said.
Sixty-four rhinos were detected at Orang during the census conducted last year.
Project to protect gibbons – esoteric, but there anyway ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY AKANKSHYA CHALIHA
Guwahati, Oct. 19: A total of 130 to 150 schools in the Northeast will be shortlisted for project hoolock gibbon conservation awareness and education programme.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Services under its Great Ape Conservation Fund had awarded the project to the Centre for Environment Education last year for conservation of gibbons.
The regional director of CEE North and Northeast, Abdhesh Gangwar, said: “This project will address various conservation and education needs by involving local NGO partners and other stakeholders…. Emphasis is laid on the adequate role and conservation actions required at the grassroots level.” This project will be implemented in selected gibbon sites of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura scattered in eight clusters which will reach out to 130-150 schools.
Guards face jumbo fury – Elephant goes berserk and attacks three foresters after villagers throw stones at the animal – when will they ever learn ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, Oct. 19: An elephant went berserk and attacked three foresters when the animal was stoned by people in a village near South Rydak forest this morning.
While Dhiren Siddha suffered serious injuries and was taken to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, the two others were admitted to the Alipurduar Subdivisional Hospital. The three had gone to Dhawla II to drive the elephant back into the forest.
“Two wild elephants entered the village near Samuktala last night. Guards led by North Rydak beat officer Shibshankar Goswami reached the village and sent one elephant back to South Rydak forest, almost 1km away. But the other elephant could not be chased back and it entered a bamboo grove,” said a forest officer.
With the animal firmly ensconced in the bamboo grove, the guards decided to wait till the break of dawn.
“But by 5am, a large number of people gathered near the bamboo bush and started pelting the elephant with stones. The animal became furious and moved aimlessly in the grove. The guards told the crowd to stay away from the animal and give it a safe passage for return to the forest. But all the pleas went unheeded and the elephant came out of the grove around 6am,” said the officer.
As the elephant charged at the villagers, the foresters fired two rounds in the air to scare it away. But it did not stop and chased the foresters instead. The villagers also started running helter-skelter.
“The animal pushed Dhiren Siddha, a ban sramik, and he fell to the ground. The next target was Narayan Biswas, who was hit by the trunk and flung against a banana tree. As Biswas lay on the ground holding onto the tree, the elephant moved forward and crossed him, its legs just about missing him. The third person to be attacked was Suren Roy. All the three were taken to the Samuktala health centre and then to Alipurduar Subdivisional Hospital,” said the officer.
An X-ray on Siddha has revealed that seven of his ribs have been fractured. Doctors who attended to him at the Alipurduar hospital said he had suffered an internal haemorrhage in one of his lungs. They referred Siddha to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri as he was suffering from respiratory problems.
Before Siddha was taken to Siliguri, field director of Buxa Tiger Reserve R.P Saini and his deputy Suvankar Sengupta visited him.
Biswas could hardly believe that he had escaped the elephant by a whisker.
“We were telling people to give a safe passage to the animal so that it could go back to the forest. The animal was already furious that it could not return to the forest even after sunrise. I had a lucky escape when the elephant jumped over me when I was lying on the ground after the attack. We had chased one elephant back to the forest last night. If the people had not created problems, we could have driven the other animal also out of the village,” he said.
Two huts and a temple were damaged by the elephants in the village last night.
Sengupta said crowds always posed problems to the forest department’s attempts to drive elephants out of human habitats.
“We cannot work properly because of villagers’ behaviour. We always tell them to help us finish our job, but to no avail,” he said.
The officer added that the department would bear the cost of treatment of the three injured persons.
Forest steps up vigil after herd-of-100 alert – pure animal instinct hunt for resources, or something deeper ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Oct. 19: Foresters have intensified patrolling on the fringe villages of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary apprehending raids by a herd of 100-odd elephants in the next 24 hours.
“We have been monitoring the movement of a herd of 45 elephants, which were spotted at the Dalka and the Kalabari forests in Naxalbari block. But yesterday, we got information that another group of 100-odd animals is about to cross the sanctuary. We are apprehending that the herd may raid the paddy fields of Naxalbari block in the next 24 hours,” said Y.T. Eden, the divisional forest officer of Kurseong.
The foresters’ apprehension centred around the Bamanpokhri and Tukuriajhar ranges under the Kurseong forest division. “As most of the paddy fields are located in the two forest ranges, we are concentrating on the areas so that the elephants can be warded off before they destroy the crops,” he said.
Apart from utilising the division’s wildlife squad to stop the elephant attack, around 30 guards from four ranges — Bamanpokhri, Tukuriajhar, Bagdogra and Panighata — have been engaged, Eden said. “We are also bringing another 20 guards from the hills, who will reach the area within the next 24 hours. I am stationed at Bamanpokhri and will continue to be there till the elephants are driven away to the forest.”
The forester said the villagers were habituated to such raids by elephants, which usually start after Diwali. But this year because of the change in climatic condition, the crop is ready for harvest much ahead of the festival.
“As the region got good rainfall this year, the crop ripened before its usual time. The crops attracted the elephants before it could get harvested by the villagers. One tusker had already been electrocuted allegedly by villagers in their bid to save the crops from the animal. We are worried that if other members of the herd damage the crops, they may face the same fate,” the DFO said. “This may put us in spot.”
The Naxalbari panchayat samiti has asked the foresters to confine the elephants to the forests. “The foresters should maintain thorough patrolling in the area as this is the time when the villagers do the harvesting. They should prevent the elephants from raiding our villages,” said Amar Sinha, a member of the Naxalbari panchayat samiti.