WILDLIFE: Tag without safety – now will the situation change with a National trumpet call ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Oct. 22: The Union government today declared the elephant the National Heritage Animal of India, exactly a month after seven of the animals were mowed down by a train in the Dooars.
However, not much has been done to protect elephants from speeding trains on tracks in Dooars forests.
“It is strange that till date, no perceptible initiative has been noticed on the part of the state forest department, the Union ministry of environment and forests and the railways to stop elephants from being hit by trains in north Bengal,” said Animesh Bose, a member of the state board for wildlife.
“A month has passed since the deaths of the seven elephants and even Union minister Jairam Ramesh has visited the site. But the animal is vulnerable to accidents even today.”
The seven elephants, including a calf, were mowed down by a Guwahati-bound goods train near Moraghat level-crossing, 79km from Alipurduar, around 11pm on September 22. It was the highest single-day death toll of elephants in recent memory.
The 160km-long Alipurduar Town-Siliguri Junction tracks turned into a grave for elephants ever since the line’s conversion into broad gauge in 2004. Excluding the September 22 incident, 19 elephants have been run over by trains in the Dooars since 2004.
The elephant was given the tag on the recommendation of the Elephant Task Force which had been entrusted by the Union environment and forest ministry to survey the status of the animal, its habitats and threats to the species. The task force submitted a report on its findings to the ministry on August 10.
Following the September 22 incident, Ramesh visited north Bengal and suggested measures like the erection of watchtowers along railway lines to keep track on elephant movement.
Asked about the progress in the implementation of the measures, Kalyan Das, the divisional forest officer (Jalpaiguri division), said: “We do not have information on any initiative for the safety of elephants in the Dooars. We have identified locations where watch towers could be set up, taking into account probable time of elephants’ crossing of a particular stretch everyday.”
Too many tigers leads to death of 1 – time for expansion of Tiger Lands ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY RAKHEE ROY TALUKDAR
Jaipur, Oct. 22: A male tiger was today found dead in Ranthambore National Park after a territorial fight with another, prompting wildlife officials to complain that the core area of the reserve is too small to hold 34 adult tigers.
The three-year-old T-36, which wore a radio collar, was found dead two days after wildlife officials lost its signal.
Ranthambore’s deputy forest conservator R.S. Shekhawat said the tiger was believed to be fighting for territory with another three-year-old male, T-42, for the past few days. “Today we found T-36 with a broken neck and severely bruised body. Perhaps he had died two days back,” he said.
Shekhawat said the dead tiger’s mother was killed in a territorial fight in September 2008. T-36 was then released in the area with a radio collar to keep constant track of his movements.
Wildlife observers say the 274.5sqkm core area is not large enough for 34 tigers. Because of overcrowding, the tigers either fight it out among themselves or stray out of the park. In 1973, when Project Tiger began, there were six to eight big cats in Ranthambore.
Rajpal Singh, a tiger expert and member of the state government’s Empowered Committee for Wildlife and Forests, said there is a dominance of male tigers in the park. He added that the core area is only capable of holding 20 to 22 tigers. If the Sawai Mansingh sanctuary to the park’s southwest and Kailadevi sanctuary to its north are included, there would be space for 30 to 32 tigers, Singh said.
Earlier, the forest corridors stretching into the sanctuaries provided the tigers shelter even if they strayed out of the core area. But now with the forest depleted, they become easy prey for hunters. Besides, the prey base is minimal in Kailadevi and with lot of human interference because of villages in the area, tigers are not able to stay put there.
Singh says there is an urgent need to increase the prey base in the buffer region and extend the core area of the park, which has 34 tigers left after five were moved to Sariska.
Many tigers have strayed out of the park to form their own territories. At present, at least three are out of the park but their movements can be tracked by their radio collars.
At least 1.5 lakh tourists visit the park annually, earning it Rs 60 crore in revenue. The park permits 15 jeeps and 20 canters at a time, accommodating 460-475 visitors during one safari, leading to considerable vehicular pollution.
There are more than 50 hotels around Ranthambore, which are almost fully booked in the October to February peak season.
To add to the chaos, there is the Katy Perry-Russell Brand wedding at a luxury resort on the edge of Ranthambore tomorrow. With the American singer and her British comedian fiancé opting for a big fat Indian wedding with elephants, camels, horses and singing and dancing, the animals will bear the brunt.