WILDLIFE: More funds wanted for jumbos on rise – but naturally for the National Animal of India and its proper conservation and use as friend or foe ?!! But will Bengal only listen, or too Politically deaf ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, Nov. 28: The forest department is planning to approach Project Elephant to help improve the habitat of the jumbos in the Buxa Tiger Reserve, where the animal’s number has gone up from 150 in 2007 to at least 210 this year.
A portion of the tiger reserve, spread across about 978sqkm between the Torsa and Sankosh rivers, was declared the Eastern Dooars Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant in 2002. The only other elephant reserve in Bengal is Mayurjharna in West Midnapore.
“We had counted 150-odd elephants in Buxa in the last census in 2007. This time, the number has already surpassed 210 on the first day of the count on November 24. After the completion of the process, the number of elephants are expected to reach the 250 mark,” said R.P. Saini, the field director of the tiger reserve.
The officer said the collected data would be sifted to find out the age groups of the elephants and to get a better picture of the distribution of the herds. “It will take a month to complete the analysis,” said Saini.
“After we get the full census results, we will send a report to Project Elephant for funds to better the improvement of the habitat and to create more fodder inside the forest so that the animals do not stray into human settlements,” said Saini.
Project Elephant was launched by the central government in 1992 to protect the jumbo’s habitat and corridors and to address issues of man-animal conflict.
The field director said a major problem the elephants faced in the reserve was absence of enough fodder. “There are 38 villages and 44 tea gardens in and around the reserve and we have to tell the people living there not to allow cattle to stray into the forest and instead, to go in for stall-feeding. The cattle often graze on grass meant for elephants,” said the field director.
He also said residents of tea gardens were cultivating crops, which were attracting the elephants.
According to Saini, the elephants often migrate from Bengal to Bhutan and Assam and during the current census, it came to light that at least 15 jumbos had entered the neighbouring country.
Joint drive to save tigers – Orang to team up with WWF – no ‘haathi mere saathi’ but Royal Bengal has a nice ring to it to the Bengal super pseudo ego ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY PULLOCK DUTTA
Jorhat, Nov. 28: Orang National Park will sign an MoU with the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) shortly to work jointly to minimise the increasing incidents of conflict between the Royal Bengal tigers and humans in recent times.
The park has witnessed a rise in tiger population, which has resulted in the big cats straying out of the smallest national park in the state frequently. A tiger, which was killed by security personnel at Morigaon district a few days back, is believed to have strayed out of the park.
The divisional forest officer of Orang, Sushil K. Daila, said according to the agreement, the WWF would be paying interim relief to owners of the cattle killed by tigers to earn the villagers’ confidence.
Villages near Orang have witnessed a rise in incidents of conflict between Royal Bengal tigers and humans with the big cats frequently straying out of the park and attacking cattle. The rise in these incidents has triggered fear that the villagers will try to poison the tigers in retaliation.
Tigers have killed at least 15 cattle heads in villages near the park in the past month. The park has also seen the death of at least 15 tigers since 2005, out of which six were killed by poisoning. “Retaliatory tiger kills has become one of the biggest threats for Orang,” Daila said.
He said interim relief would be paid to the owner of cattle killed by tigers only on condition that he/she would not poison the carcass. “It is generally seen that the carcass of the cattle killed are used as bait by the villagers to poison tigers. From now on, once we pay compensation to a villager, he/she will be made responsible if a carcass is found poisoned,” Daila said.
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. It is one of the important rhino habitats in the state. According to the census conducted last year, the park has 14 Royal Bengal tigers.
However, a recent census — the figure is yet to be announced officially — found 18 tigers at Orang.
Daila said the forest department has also taken up various measures to mitigate the conflicts between the animals of Orang and the villagers residing on the periphery of the park.
“We have formed several eco-development committees involving the villagers, through whom we have installed solar lamps, repaired roads and conducted other development activities in the villages to gain the confidence of the villagers,” he said.
Hearing on rhino horns – and the poachers too should get poached ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY ROOPAK GOSWAMI
Guwahati, Nov. 28: The Assam forest department will organise a public hearing before burning the rhino horns lying in state forest treasuries, to ensure full transparency in the disposal process.
The public hearing will be held on December 14 on the Assam Forest School campus at Jalukbari here.
The principal chief conservator of forests, V.K. Vishnoi, who is also the chairman of the state-level monitoring committee for burning of rhino horns, had decided to conduct the hearing, in the wake of protests by many organisations, which were suggesting transfer of the horns to museums instead.
But committee sources said the chairman alone fixed of the date of public hearing. In fact there has been no meeting held since the committee was set up on June 16.
On January 27, Dispur had constituted committees for each district for disposal of all rhino horns in possession of the forest department, except those required as exhibits in certain court cases.
The horns are to be destroyed by burning them in full public view, in the presence of the media, so that a clear message is conveyed that the animal part has neither any monetary value nor any medicinal quality.
At present, there are 1,571 rhino horns, weighing 997kg, lying in forest treasuries in 10 districts of the state.
The eastern Assam wildlife division, that includes Kaziranga, has the maximum stock of horns.
Pangolin scales seized – more than Rs 400 crores, how inhumane can Bengal’s criminal humanity get ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Calcutta, Nov. 27: Large consignments of pangolin scales worth more than Rs 400 crore have been seized from Calcutta airport this week with officials saying they were being smuggled to China.
The consignments, hidden in bags labelled “ayurvedic medicine”, were bound for Imphal, from where they would have been taken to China via Myanmar, officials of the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) said.
Yesterday, 511kg of pangolin scales being carried in 12 bags were confiscated at the cargo terminal of Calcutta airport.
On November 21, another 135kg in five bags had been seized from the airport.
The consignments had been brought to Calcutta on a private airline from Chennai, the officials said.
Since these were registered cargo, no passenger was accompanying the bags.
“The consignments are worth more than Rs 400 crore and were headed for China,” said Sesha Giri Rao, additional director-general, DRI, Calcutta. “From Imphal, the scales were supposed to be smuggled to China through Myanmar,” he said.
Rao said that in China, ayurvedic medicines were prepared from pangolin scales.
“The scales are in huge demand in that country,” he added.
Rao said wildlife crime control bureau experts had collected samples of the scales and would submit those to the Geological Survey of India for examination.
“Pangolins are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, along with tigers, leopards, elephants and king cobras,” said V.K. Yadav, special chief conservator of forests, West Bengal.
Forest department officials said two types of pangolins were found in India.
The Chinese pangolins (Manis pentadactyla) are mainly found in the Northeast while Indian pangolins (Manis crassicaudata) are found in many other parts of the country, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The officials said the seized scales were of Indian pangolins.
Rao said his department kept regular surveillance on Northeast-bound flights to stop animal skins from being smuggled out of India.
Sources said the pangolin skin and other banned wildlife products were mainly smuggled to Southeast Asia through the Northeast.
AND MUCH EARLIER FROM DARJEELING
Students preach pangolin preservation – Darjeeling cares for itself and its future generations, but Bengal is too shortsightedly self cantered ?!! Quite a cultural shock for the Indian Gorkhas ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, March 23: A scaly nocturnal animal on the verge of extinction has found its saviour in a group of students of Riverdale Academy.
Students of the school in Pokhriabong, 35km from here, had started Save the Pangolin campaign three years ago after Smrithi Rumdali Rai, the principal and a wildlife enthusiast, discovered that the area had a number of pangolins.
“I was surprised to find the animals in Pokhriabong while trekking. I immediately decided to start a campaign to bring about awareness among the local people and the move is now paying dividends,” Rai toldThe Telegraph.
The students involved with this campaign have rescued around 15 pangolins so far.
The mammals have no teeth and they mainly survive on ants and other insects.
“The animal curls itself into a ball hoping that the scales on its body would protect it. But, unfortunately it is not always protected,” said Rai.
The authorities of Riverdale Academy have also informed the wildlife wing in Darjeeling about the animals. “Pangolins are found at an altitude of 4,000 feet and above. I was told that some were sighted at Pokhriabong and because it is an endangered species we visited the area. We will soon start an awareness campaign there. I have also written to the state officials for protection of the animals’ habitat,” said G.P. Chhetri, the divisional forest officer of Darjeeling.
Two types of pangolins are found in the country, Indian and Chinese. The latter is more common in the Northeast. The animals sighted in Pokhriabong are also of this variety.
“There are seven species of pangolins around the world. But there is no available data on the number of Chinese pangolins found in the wild. They are in great demand in the South Asian countries,” said Rai.
During an awareness campaign, the Riverdale students told villagers not to believe in tales that said the meat of the animal could cure asthma and increase blood circulation. Some people even believe that the dry scales of pangolins can be used to treat “ailments as ridiculous as eyelash curling inwards and hysterical crying in children”.
“Pangolins fetch anything between Rs 8,000 and Rs 12,000 in the market,” Rai said.
The school authority has also brought in some wildlife enthusiasts from Mumbai to support their cause.
According to Rai, television personalities like Kavita Kaushik, dietician Rujuta Diwekar were among others who had taken part in the Run for Pangolin campaign here last year.
“We ask the villagers not to kill the animals and threaten them with legal action. Now, they inform us if they see pangolins in their villages and we have successfully released some in the wild after treating them,” said Rai.
The Riverdale Saviours: Save the Pangolin campaign was started three years ago after Rai discovered that Pokhriabong had a number of pangolins. The students involved with this campaign have rescued around 15 pangolins so far. The mammals have no teeth and they mainly survive on ants and other insects. During awareness campaigns, the Riverdale students tell villagers not to believe in tales that claim that the meat of the animal can cure asthma and increase blood circulation. Some people even believe that the dry scales of pangolins can be used to treat “ailments as ridiculous as eyelash curling inwards and hysterical crying in children”. Pangolins fetch anything between Rs 8,000 and Rs 12,000 in the market, Rai said. The school authorities had also brought in some wildlife enthusiasts from Mumbai at their campaign to support their cause. (Text: Vivek Chhetri, Photo courtesy: Riverdale)