Monday, December 31, 2007

Tiger kills woman near Nagpur

Tiger kills woman near Nagpur
Sunday, December 30, 2007 10:36:00 AM
Ashwin Aghor
MUMBAI: Another tiger attack has been reported from Talodhi, where a supposed maneater had been shot dead by sharpshooters on November 30.
A 30-year-old woman, Rekha Govind Meshram, of Navargaon village was found dead inside a forest, where she had gone to collect firewood.
The divisional forest officer, Brahmapuri Hrishi-kesh Ranjan, said, "Pug marks around her body and wounds on the body confirm an attack by a tiger."
This comes close on the heels of the killing of a youth Tanaji Raut from Navtala village by a tiger.
Meanwhile, a leopard was found dead on the Nagpur-Chandrapur road at 7pm on Saturday. The leopard's body has been sent for a post-mortem as the cause of death could not be ascertained.

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Tiger kills fisherman in Sunderbans

Tiger kills fisherman in Sunderbans
30 Dec 2007, 0420 hrs IST, TNN
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KOLKATA: A 21-year-old resident of Patharpratima in South 24-Parganas was killed and partly eaten by a tiger in the Sunderbans on Thursday afternoon.

Villagers, escorted by forest department officials, returned to the forest on Friday and recovered Buno Bhakta's body, which was brought back to Patharpratima on Saturday morning and sent for post-mortem.

Buno was part of a five-member group that had gone into the Chulkati forest to look for crabs on Thursday. The tiger attacked when they were returning with their catch later in the day.

"It was getting dark when the tiger pounced on our group. It picked up Buno in a flash and disappeared into the forest. We could do little as we did not have weapons. We shouted and screamed, hoping to scare away the tiger, but Buno did not return to the boat. Finally, we left for our village," said one of Buno's friends.

The party reached Saptadaspur in Patharpratima on Friday morning and alerted forest officers.

A large group comprising villagers and foresters returned to the spot where the tiger had attacked. Buno's body was found a few metres into the forest.

"It seems the tiger killed Buno, but left the body when his group of friends raised an alarm. It returned later to gorge on the flesh. The large party that returned to retrieve the body may have scared the tiger away the second time," said a forest official.

Villagers said the youth normally pulled a rickshaw-van or worked in the fields to make a living. He entered the forest at times for some extra earnings.

Foresters said people like Buno enter the forest without permit and are not eligible for compensation. At least 50-60 persons fall prey to the Sunderbans tigers every year while trying to sneak into the forest, looking for firewood, honey, crabs or fish.

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Race against poachers

Race against poachers

Statesman News Service

JAIPUR, Dec. 28: Tigers will once again roam the Sariska National Park. The majestic cats were wiped out by poachers. The Sariska tiger reserve in Alwar district of Rajasthan was once a tourist hot spot. It is set to regain its lost glory.

"We will bring two tigers from the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve by the end of January or early February. Three more tigers will be brought later," said Mr RN Mehrotra, chief wildlife warden, Rajasthan.

The tigers will initially be kept in an enclosure in Sariska for 10 days, to allow the animals to adapt to their new habitat. The topography of the park is similar to that of Ranthambore.

The diverse flora of the reserve comprising a mix of dry deciduous foliage, scrub and thorny forest and grass plains support a wide variety of animal life. Sariska is larger than the Ranthambore National Park.

The authorities are taking precaution to ensure that these cats do not meet the fate of their predecessors. Steps have been initiated to curb vehicular movement on the Sariska-Kalighati-Tehla and Alwar-Sariska-Thanagazi state highways running through the reserve. Many animals, including panthers, have been crushed to death under the wheels of speeding vehicles.

"We have also decided to intensify night patrolling in the reserve to curb poaching. We have deployed 60 home guards and 30 ex-military personnel in the reserve for tiger protection," Mr Mehrotra said.
To ensure the safety of both the wild animals and villagers living near the park, the authorities will relocate villagers within the perimeter of the reserve. A total of 150 villagers from Bhagani have been relocated and the process is on at the Khakwadi village.

The Umri and Haripura villages will also be shifted out of the reserve.

"There has been many instances of villagers killing wild animals that stray into the village, including the recent killing of a panther in Mozipura village, on the outskirts of Ranthambore last week," he said.

Tiger pug marks were last spotted in Sariska in 2004 and it was confirmed within a year that the entire tiger population in the park had been killed by poachers.

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MU joins effort to save endangered wild tigers

MU joins effort to save endangered wild tigers

By JANESE HEAVIN of the Tribune's staff
Published Friday, December 28, 2007

They might have had a successful season on the football field in Columbia this year, but in the wild, tigers are losing an ongoing game of survival.

That's why the University of Missouri has teamed up with two other tiger-themed colleges to raise money to combat tiger farming and illegal trade of tiger parts in Asia.

MU, Auburn University in Alabama and Clemson University in South Carolina this month kicked off the Tigers for Tigers Challenge fundraising effort, a friendly competition between the school that aims to raise $75,000 by Dec. 13, 2008.
"We're very excited about this," said Dana Morris, coordinator of Mizzou Tigers for Tigers. "It's a great combined effort to really make a significant impact on tiger awareness and raise a lot of funds, as well."

Money raised from the Tigers for Tigers Challenge will allow the World Wildlife Fund to set up an enforcement network in places such as the eastern Himalayas and the Mekong River Delta to stop illegal farming and trade.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates there are roughly 5,000 tigers left in the wild. China has had a ban on the tiger trade since 1993, the WWF reports; however, those restrictions have led to tiger farming, in which more than 4,000 tigers are bred for body parts such as bones and skin.

"Tiger farms are feeding the demand, so they're actually, in a way, increasing the demand for parts" and encouraging poaching, Morris said.

It's important for those who value the tiger as a mascot to help protect the survival of the species, said Matt Gompper, an associate professor in the fisheries and wildlife sciences department at MU and co-chairman of the local Tigers for Tigers effort.

"One thing we don't want to do is become a university that has an extinct species as our mascot," he said. "It's clear by what we know about tiger biology and the population around much of Asia, if nothing is done, tigers will go extinct."

Mizzou Tigers for Tigers hopes to enlist the help of MU athletic teams to raise money and awareness during sporting events and hopes to appeal to sports fans as well, Morris said.

"We get so much from using the tiger as our mascot," she said. "It's a great image for our sports teams to portray these ferocious, powerful hunters. It would just seem silly to continue that if there were no tigers in the wild."

How to donate

Send donations to:
School of Natural Resources;
302 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building,
University of Missouri,
Columbia, Mo., 65211

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Man-animal conflict

Man-animal conflict

Statesman News Service

KOLKATA, Dec. 28: Several wildlife conservationists and environmental activists expressed their concern on issues relating to global warming and protecting mangrove swamps.

Preservation of the Sunderbans' eco-system is imperative for preservation of the tiger. Speaking at the seminar on "Climate Change, The Royal Bengal Tiger and The Sunderbans: Quo Vadis West Bengal?" yesterday evening, Mr Bittu Sahgal, wildlife conservationist, said: "Over the last 10 years, there has been a massive decline in the country's tiger population. Poaching, coupled with the loss of habitat has resulted in the decline.

Matters have worsened with global warming and climate change."

Mr Sahgal added that the number of tigers in the country has come down by almost 70 per cent in the last 10 years.

He claimed that while the government said there were about 1,500 tigers in the country, the actual number stands at 1,200.

He, however, admitted that the man-animal conflict was low in case of tiger reserves because of Project Tiger.

The project identified core areas and prevented villagers from entering these areas. This resulted in less or no interference of human beings in the natural habitats of the tiger, he said.

The man-animal conflict is on the increase over the past few months, with leopards straying into townships. Mr Sahgal said: "Leopards enter villages or towns in search of dogs. When confronted by human beings, they attack them, too." He, however, admitted that this man-animal conflict was low in case of tiger reserves because of Project Tiger.

"From 50 to 60 incidents of tigers attacking human beings and straying into towns and villages almost 10 years back, the number has come down to eight or 10," Mr Sahgal said.

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Country has around 1,500 tigers

Country has around 1,500 tigers
29 Dec 2007, 0239 hrs IST, Neha Shukla, TNN
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LUCKNOW: Over with the tiger estimation work in four central Indian states, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), in its latest census report, projects 1,300 to 1,500 tigers in the country.

The projections came up for discussion at a recently convened meeting of National Board for Wildlife. For Uttar Pradesh the picture is dismal with not more than 100 to 120 big cats left within the confines of its protected and unprotected areas.

"UP does not have more than 100-120 tigers," said Valmiki Thapar, member of the board. The final documentation on the tiger count will be out in January. However, the census, which was to be over by December 8, is already delayed.

Meanwhile, the projections in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, as revealed by Project Tiger authorities, show a decline in the number of tigers outside reserves. "Within the tiger reserves, the number is more or less the same as was in the last count", said Ganga Singh, additional director, India Eco Development Project, MoEF.

But, contrary to what the ministry claims, tiger activists are sceptical of the single-handed counting of tigers this time by Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun.

"The figures given in the end could be inflated by close to 40 per cent", said Raghu Chundawat, an animal activist. "As per the report Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh has 32 tigers when in reality not more than four would be left there," said Chundawat.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Missing tiger Yuvraj killed near Ranthambore

Missing tiger Yuvraj killed near Ranthambore
Friday December 28, 11:48 AM
Jaipur, Dec 28 (IANS) Yuvraj, the tiger that went missing from Rajasthan's Ranthambore national park two months ago, has been killed by poachers.
The tiger was killed in November and one of the poachers Ramswaroop has been arrested by the forest department, forest officials said.
'Ramswaroop has confessed to the killing of the tiger, though we have not been able to collect the tiger skin or any other items from him,' an official said.
'After the disappearance of the tiger from the park, we conducted an enquiry in the nearby villages, where we learnt that the tiger had been killed by Ramswaroop from Indergarh village. Even his wife Rampati accepted that her husband killed the tiger,' a senior forest official, Sudarshan Sharma, told IANS Friday.
Ramswaroop, a daily wage labourer, confessed during interrogation that seven more people were involved in the killing of the tiger.
He said the tiger was shot dead in the jungles of Indergarh near Ranthambore in Sawai Madhopur district, some 175 km from here. The gun belonged to his friends.
'We are conducting further investigations into the incident and also searching for his accomplices,' the official said.
The tiger had gone missing from the park two months ago and the forest department had set up several teams to find the animal.
The department had also announced a cash prize of Rs.1,100 to anyone who could give information about the tiger.
The park is one of the finest tiger reserves in the country. It covers an area of around 400 sq. km and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957. It got the status of a national park in 1981.
According to a recent census, there were 32 tigers in the park - up from 26 in 2005.
'The state has already lost all its tigers from Sariska tiger reserve due to poaching. The government should have been more serious on these issues. But it seems the government has not learned from its past mistakes. If poaching continues then the day is not far when state would lose all its wild cats,' said Naresh Kadyan of the non-governmental organisation People for Animals (PFA), Haryana.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

12 tiger cubs born in Ranthambore park; relief for government

12 tiger cubs born in Ranthambore park; relief for government
Sawai Madhopur (Rajasthan): The birth of 12 tiger cubs at the Ranthambore National Park in the past two years has come as a huge relief to the State government, facing criticism over the disappearance of striped cats from the Sariska Reserve.
Domestic and foreign tourists are pouring in to see these cubs at the reserve, about 170 km from Jaipur and known to be one of the best parks in the country.
A senior forest official told PTI here that "as many as 12 cubs were born in the past two years, taking the total cubs to 16 and number of tigers to around 40."
In zone three of Sawai Madhopur range, three cubs around four months old were sighted by tourists while in zone five in Chiroli unit, two tiger cubs were born last year, he said. In the same zone in Kachida unit, three cubs were born nearly two years ago and in Wagda unit two, another was born a month ago, a guard said.
In zone four, two three-month-old cubs were sighted recently by the officials during tracking movements.
To study their dispersal during adulthood, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has asked the Wildlife Institute of India to radio-collar at least five cubs. "One cub has already been radio-collared while we are in the process of radio-collaring the other four," an official from WII said. Radio-collaring would help keep track of the cubs when they attain adulthood and "visit" new areas in the forests, he said.
The 2005 census had recorded 26 tigers in Ranthambore against 40 in 2002-03.
Experts believe their number has increased after strong security measures, better breeding facilities and availability of good prey within the reserve area — where sambhars, neel gai and cheetals are found in large numbers.
During the last three years, over 50 poachers had been arrested in Sariska and Ranthambore.
The Ranthambore National Park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957 and was brought under the Centre's Project Tiger in 1974. It got the status of a national park in 1981.
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Wednesday, Dec 26, 2007

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Auburn joins partnership to raise tiger preservation awareness

Auburn joins partnership to raise tiger preservation awareness
Birmingham Business Journal - by Jimmy DeButts Staff
Monday, December 24, 2007 - 10:33 AM CST
Auburn University, Clemson University and the University of Missouri
are partnering with the World Wildlife Fund to raise money to aid
worldwide tiger preservation.
The three universities share a common mascot - a tiger - and will
compete to see which school can raise the most money and boost
awareness of tiger farming and illegal trade in tiger parts.
Through Dec. 13 next year, students, faculty and alumni from all
three schools can donate in their schools' name to a special Web site
created by WWF for the "Tigers for Tigers Challenge" at
Visitors to the program site can view donation amounts from
supporters of each school. As part of the program, participating
universities will help raise awareness of the challenge to their
extensive community of alumni, students, staff and faculty.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Tigers at large around Ranthambhore National Park

Tigers at large around Ranthambhore National Park
JAIPUR: Tiger cubs are spilling out of the Ranthambhore National Park
in Rajasthan creating a problem of plenty for the wildlife
authorities and scaring the wits out of the human population in
adjoining villages and towns.
As many as half a dozen tiger cubs in the age group of 18-to-24-
months have been playing truant during the past couple of months. The
park managers have even announced a reward for anyone who informs on
Yuvaraj, by now a notorious wandering cub, who has been missing for
over two months now.
One female cub which left the Ranthambhore territory went up to
neighbouring Kailadevi sanctuary to return to the park later. She was
spotted near Mandrayal on the banks of the Chambal river, some 80 to
100 km from the park, on several occasions. A 20-month-old cub out on
a similar expedition reached Burri Pahadi on two occasions.
A young feline from Lahapur region in the park walked across the
Khandaar forest range to reach the banks of the Chambal.
A tigress belonging to Maigaon region in the park often forays into
the villages to feed on domestic animals. A few days ago she killed a
cow in a village 10 km outside the park, creating a stir.
"The park is getting overpopulated with tigers. The young tigers are
finding it difficult to get some space of their own," says Rajpal
Singh, Member of the Rajasthan State Wildlife Board, talking about
the escapades of the tiger cubs.
"It is a growing up process. There are too many young tigers trying
to establish their own territories. At the age of 18-24 months the
cubs start separating from their mothers and looking for their own
territories," he explains.
"It is not a good sign that the tigers are moving out of the forest
area. It is more serious when the truant animal is a tigress," says
Mr. Singh, adding, "Once out of the forest, the tigers find it
difficult to survive for long as their prey base shrinks."
Tigers moving out of Project Tiger reserves is not a new phenomenon.
Some eight years ago a tigress had made a surprise entry into the
Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur and stayed put in its 29 sq km
territory for years without hurting the predominant herbivorous
atmosphere in the bird sanctuary. Yet another tiger, spotted in the
Darrah sanctuary, met with a gory death after getting on to the
railway track. In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh there has been a case
recently of one tiger moving out of the Pench sanctuary to the
Chhindwara forests.
"The Ranthambhore National Park with its 392 sq km area now has 13-14
cubs aged between 18-24 months and they have started looking for
their own territory. The spill-over is seemingly due to lack of
individual space which can be solved with re-location of some of
them," says Rajasthan Chief Wildlife Warden R. N. Mehrotra,
adding, "In the process of establishing own territories, the females
and the weaker ones get driven out."
Interestingly, even when there were doubts about the exact number of
tigers in Ranthambhore in the past, the park had always guaranteed
good visibility of the animal, especially of the cubs. At present the
park is said to be having 45 tigers out of whom 13 are semi-adults or
"The young felines, once out of the protected environment, become
vulnerable not only to the vagaries of the terrain but also to
threats from poachers and even common people who feel threatened. The
cubs themselves get scared once they are out of the forest and find
no green cover to camouflage them," points out Mr. Mehrotra. "Their
wanderings are mostly in the Chambal territory. Once they cross the
river, their return too would be difficult," he adds.
The park authorities are seriously considering radio-collaring the
wanderers so that they can be traced in the wilderness.
Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Sunday, Dec 23, 2007

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Tiger's 200-km trek raises hope

Tiger's 200-km trek raises hope
Saturday December 22, 12:48 AM
A TIGER from Madhya Pradesh has travelled 200 km south to Maharashtra over the past four months, straying way beyond the species' normal territorial radius of 20 km, a rare occurrence, scientists said.
They said the journey established that there was a viable route between two of India's major tiger habitats, which could lead to genetic exchange between two animal groups and increase their food supply options, thereby boosting the population of one of the world's most endangered species.
The tiger set out in August from Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which has about 60 tigers, and was last spotted three weeks ago in the Maharashtra section of Pench National Park, which straddles both states and has about 65 tigers, forest officials told HT. Both are among the 28 chosen reserves for the nationwide Project Tiger conservation effort.
"Tiger populations in Kanha can provide a breeding surplus to neighbouring forests, which leads to genetic exchange between tiger reserves," said Y.V. Jhala, senior professor at Dehradun's Wildlife Institute of India, which fitted this tiger and nine others in Kanha with satellite radio collars in October last year, in order to study their movements and prepare a tiger map of central India. Genetic exchange improves the robustness of offspring.
"Few forest links remain that connect tiger reserves," Jhala said. "But this tiger has proven that the Kanha-Pench link is a viable tiger corridor, which is vital for the survival of tigers in the Kanha-Pench-Satpura belt."
Scientists do not yet know why the tiger strayed, but Jhala said it could be looking to stake out a new territory. The animal is three-and-a-half years old, while the average lifespan of tigers is 12 to 15 years.

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Tiger reserves vacationers' hotspots

Tiger reserves vacationers' hotspots
21 Dec 2007, 0156 hrs IST,Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN
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NAGPUR: With Christmas vacation beginning Friday, tiger tourism has
topped vacationers' list of hotspots. All the five tiger reserves, in
around 200-kilometre radius from the city, have been packed with
bookings and there's literally no room left for any visitor.
Wildlife buffs are heading to tiger reserves and sanctuaries like
Tadoba-Andhari, Melghat, Pench (Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh), Kanha,
Nagzira and Navegaon to spend holidays.
According to official sources, all the private and forest department
accommodation in these areas has been booked in advance. Top
officials say they even had to turn down requests from many families
as not a single residential booking is available now.
To start with high-profile Kanha, leading tour operator Arjun
Dhanwatey says, "There are over 35 private resorts around Kanha near
Mukhi and Khatia besides accommodation facility by Madhya Pradesh
Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC). However, all the dwellings
have been booked between Dec 22 and Jan 2. I am running with about 40
excess bookings." He attributed the advance bookings to craze for
sighting tigers.
A section of government employees, who will be visiting to Kanha,
say, "It's holidaying time for us. Except for Monday, there are four
holidays - Friday is the Bakri-Eid, followed by fourth Saturday and
Sunday. On Tuesday, it's Christmas. Nothing can be a better place
than Kanha as watching forests and wildlife is exciting. It also
gives us a break from routine official work."
The resorts are also cashing in on the opportunity by increasing the
rates by 20 to 25%, and even smallest of hotels have no rooms left.In
Kanha, normally, it costs between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 for a day.
However, five-star resorts like Taj charge Rs 30,000 per day,"
Dhanwatey says.

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Tiger hotline gets good response from public

Tiger hotline gets good response from public
Saturday December 22, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: The numerous calls to the Tiger Crime Hotline are a sure indication that people are definitely interested in tiger conservation.
However, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) clarified that the recently launched hotline was not a general info line but a service dedicated to SMS reports on tiger-related crimes.
"The hotline is an extremely useful tool for arresting the grave problems of poaching, smuggling and consumption of tigers and their prey," said a Mycat spokesman in a statement.
The Tiger Crime Hotline at 019-356 4194 was launched last week during Mycat's tiger conservation campaign, Race Against Time, at the National Zoo.
Some estimates put the number of tigers in the wild at less than 3,000 worldwide, with Malaysia home to about 500 of the animals.
It was also reported that over the last 70 years, three of the nine tiger sub-species have become extinct and Malaysia has one of the remaining six sub-species, the Malayan tiger.

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Periyar Tiger Reserve to use cameras to monitor tigers

Periyar Tiger Reserve to use cameras to monitor tigers
Taallakkadav (Kerala) (PTI): The Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) has decided to monitor tigers by cameras to identify animals, their home range and their stripe patterns.
The Scientific Monitoring of Tigers exercise is likely to commence at the reserve that houses about 35 tigers, in January.
"About 40 cameras in pairs of two each would be set up in four sq km grid to 'trap' the animals. The entire 777 square km of the reserve would be covered within four to five months time," PTR Deputy Director, Padma Mahanti, told PTI.
Seventeen tribals and two local youths have been trained to operate the cameras and help the forest officials in the exercise, she said.
"It would help in identifying the individual tigers, their home range and their stripe patterns. The cameras would be shifted every 15 days. Tribals and locals along with forest officials would monitor the activities of the animals after the traps are set," Mahanti added.
The reports compiled would be submitted to the field directorate which in turn would send it to the National Tiger Conservation Directorate at New Delhi for records.
Presently monitoring of tigers is done by collecting its pug marks with the help of plaster casts.
"Scratches of claw marks on trees, tiger calls, direct sighting and kills made by the animal are also recorded. All the information are passed through wireless network to the central pooling system of the PTR," Mahanti said.
News Update Service
Monday, December 24, 2007 : 1140 Hrs

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Locals fear tiger in Quang Nam

Locals fear tiger in Quang Nam
12:35 24/12/2007
VietNamNet Bridge – Locals of Nam Phuoc town, in the central province
of Quang Nam, have avoided their fields over the last ten days,
frightened by tiger or panther footprints.
Lieutenant colonel Tran Cau, sheriff of Nam Phuoc, said that
footprints looking like those of a tiger have been spotted by locals
in a field. A dead cow buried there was also dug up and eaten.
"We have sent some forest rangers to take photos of the footprints
but are unsure whether the beast is a tiger or panther because the
prints are similar," said Diep Thanh Phong, head of the Forest
Protection Agency of Quang Nam province.
Phong said that a mother and a baby panther fled their home in the
forest due to November flooding to Dien Thang commune in Quang Nam
province. The baby died but the mother has been spotted wondering
about the Dien Thang fields.
He said that if the footprints don't belong to the mother panther
from Dien Thang commune, which may have swam across the Thu Bon River
to Nam Phuoc town, they may belong to a tiger which also fled its
more remote habit due to the recent floods.

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Absence of tigers marred Pench show

Absence of tigers marred Pench show
24 Dec 2007, 0149 hrs IST,TNN
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NAGPUR: Pench authorities' claim of 33 tigers received a major set back after none were sighted naturally in the high-profile reserve on Saturday while a tiger show was on. Of the 500-odd visitors in 63 vehicles, only 35 parties were somehow lucky to get a glimpse of one tiger in the show at Alikatta, inside the reserve while others had to return disappointed.
Many wildlife lovers and tourists expressed concern over the state of affairs in the high-profile tiger reserve, 100 kms from Nagpur. "At a time when poaching pressures are becoming difficult to handle, overcrowding of parks in MP also puts a question mark over the existence of tigers," said wildlife experts like Robin Sonkar and Abhay Sakhre.
The carrying capacity of the reserve is 60 vehicles - 30 each in morning and noon session. However, on Saturday, over 126 vehicles entered the park in two sessions. Rajnish Kumar Singh, game range officer, Khawasa, admitted that the number of tourists was beyond the park's capacity. Of the 757 sq km tiger reserve, 140 km routes are for tourism.
Following five consecutive government holidays and Christmas vacation, tourists, mostly from Nagpur flocked the park. However, due to mad rush, there was no tiger sighting. A few chances of getting the tiger sighted were marred by a show near Alikatta, where two tigers were spotted by the visitors while riding on an elephant. Out of this, one tiger managed to escape while another was there till the afternoon.
Many tourists have flayed the park management for going out of way to show tigers to tourists for commercial gains. The park charges Rs 100 per person for a tiger show that too after a long wait. "However, in the process, many of us could not see a tiger naturally. The authorities flouted all norms while engaging in a tiger show. The exit time from the park is 11 am, but on Saturday, many tourists stayed inside till 1.30 pm as the show was on," complained a group of college girls who had come a long way from Pune. "How can one see a tiger when there's tremendous pressure on the park and on the tigers too," asked Vinita Goel, a student. "The claim of about 50 tigers seems to be a bluff and the park is trying to create hype by showcasing the only leopard in Piyorthadi and the tigress with her separated cubs near Alikatta," alleged Anant Dorlikar of Aranya, an NGO working for conservation of tigers.
Many visitors accused the private gypsy owners of adopting short-cuts during excursions to save fuel. "Despite paying Rs 1,500 per round, we were not taken on several routes. They tried to stop the vehicle in between and wasted time on the pretext of showing a tiger even when there were no signs of tigers. Even the guides are hand in glove with tour operators," charged Awdesh Singh and his friends.
When contacted, R K Singh refuted the allegations. On tiger shows, he says, "Is tiger an animal that can be forced to stop. To see the big cat, it needs tight vigil and lots of patience. Even if we hold shows, we do it if all the conditions are conducive. Due to mad rush, visitors could not sight the animal. To regulate the rush we're going in for online bookings and concept of pool vehicle is being promoted."

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Tigers in Ranthambore being collared

Tigers in Ranthambore being collared
Posted : Tue, 18 Dec 2007 08:03:05 GMT
Author : IANS
Jaipur, Dec 18 - With no knowledge about the tiger who went missing from Rajasthan's Ranthambore National Park about a month ago, the forest department is planning to put radio collars on some tigers in the sanctuary to keep track of them.
In April, the forest department had collared a tiger in Ranthambore, about 175 km from here, and is now planning to collar two more tigers.
A team of experts from the Wildlife Institute of India will arrive here on Dec 23 to collar the tigers.
'The radio collars are usually fitted on tigers aged between 20 to 24 months. These will help us learn about the habitat, travelling patterns and eating habits of tigers in the park. A tiger usually covers an area of about 20 to 40 sq km,' an official said.
The drive to collar tigers in Ranthambore is being taken up since a tiger called Yuvraj who went missing from the park about a month ago has still not been found. Wildlife experts feel it would have been easy to locate the tiger had it been collared.
'We have constituted teams to find the tiger. We have also announced a cash prize of Rs.1,100 to the person who gives us any information about the tiger,' a forest department official said.
Ranthambore National Park, situated in Sawai Madhopur district, is one of the finest tiger reserves in the country. It covers an area of around 400 sq km and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957. It got the status of a national park in 1981.
As per a recent census conducted by the state government, the tiger population in the park has increased to 32 from the earlier count of 26 in 2005.

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Habitat loss forces India's tigers to high ground

Habitat loss forces India's tigers to high ground
Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:50am EST
By Bappa Majumdar

KOLKATA, India, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Habitat destruction is forcing India's endangered tigers to new grounds, including high mountains which have a sufficient prey base but are not known to be the natural home of the big cats.

With forests in the foothills being built over and cleared for farming, wildlife experts say tigers are being increasingly spotted in high altitudes in India's northeast and west.

But they say tigers could still be as endangered in their new environment and are not as adaptable as leopards.

"Tigers can feel the effect of villages on the bio-diversity from miles, and move away," said Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

"But they are not as adaptable as leopards in mountains."

India's wildlife crisis, highlighted best by the dwindling tiger and lion population, has caused huge national concern, pushing authorities to declare new measures to save the cats.

Experts say increasing human interference such as development, encroachment and destruction of habitat, as well as poaching, are the main threats to animals across India, from the Himalayas to Indian Ocean islands.

India is thought to be home to half the world's surviving tigers, but according to a census in 2001 and 2002, their numbers have dwindled to between 1,300 and 1,500 from 40,000 a century ago.


In an example of the tiger adapting to the threat to their natural habitat, experts have found at least 20 of them in the high mountains of Neora, tucked between Bhutan and India's eastern state of West Bengal.

"Until 1998, we found one or two tigers straying into the Neora from the foothills, but now they live there," said Pranabes Sanyal of World Conservation Union, who conducted a study on tiger migration.

The tigers moved to the dense cover of bamboo and oak at Neora from the Gorumara reserve in the foothills, their original habitat.

In September, experts sighted up to 20 tigers in a hilly tropical rainforest in the western Maharashtra state, almost three decades after it was thought that poaching had wiped them out there.

Tigers have also moved into the lower Himalayan range in Bhutan from the Buxa and Manas tiger reserves on the plains of adjacent India which have a large human population.

Some conservationists have called for a proper study to find out how tigers were surviving in the unfamiliar terrain.

"There needs to be a special study done to find how they are doing and to learn about the extent of disturbance in the habitat below that forced them to move up," said Valmik Thapar, a leading tiger expert. (Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee)

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Thailand's forests could support 2,000 tigers

Thailand's forests could support 2,000 tigers
December 19, 2007
Thailand's network of parks could support 2,000 tigers, reports a new study by Thailand's Department of National Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation and the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.
The research, published in the journal Oryx, is based on surveys of tiger habitat in Thailand's Western Forest Complex — a 6,900 square mile (18,000 square kilometers) network of parks and wildlife reserves. Presently about 720 tigers are found in the region, but the authors say better enforcement to safeguard both tigers and their prey from poachers could nearly triple tiger density.
"Thailand has the potential to be a global centerpiece for tiger conservation," said Dr. Anak Pattanavibool of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Thailand Program and a coauthor of the study. "This study underscores that there is an opportunity for tigers to thrive in Thailand — provided tigers and their major prey species are protected from poachers."
"Working together with WCS scientists helps set a standard for tiger monitoring and conservation here in Thailand," said Saksit Simcharoen, a tiger specialist working for the Thai government. "The tiger and prey population monitoring and patrol improvement systems have given people hope and direction to do better for tigers and other wildlife."
Tiger populations have plummeted from 100,000 to around 5,000 in the past century due to habitat loss and poaching. The trade in tiger parts and skins still takes a toll on the great cats

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Further confirmation of tiger`s presence in Tml forest

Further confirmation of tiger`s presence in Tml forest
Daniel Kameih

TAMENGLONG, Dec 18: State wildlife experts investigating into the presence of a Bengal Tiger in Bhalok (Phalong) village Tuesday discovered the droppings of the tiger and bones of a buffalo left after being eaten possibly by the tiger.

With the detection of these materials, experts opined that a full growth tiger is present in and around the forest of Bhalok and five volunteers who were engaged by the forest department for close vigil on the movement of the tiger since December 2 and the villagers were asked to hunt for the foot prints of the tiger to ascertain its movement by the experts.

An expert team of the state forest department comprising of L Biramangol Singh, forest range officer, FRO, A Kuber Singh, FRO, Khomeimacha Kamson, FRO, Ninthemba, deputy forest ranger of wildlife wing today at around 10 am detected the bones and muck at a spot located in the forest between Bhalok-Irang road at Bhalok-2 village where domestic cattle graze.

After analysis, the experts stated that they are 90 percent sure that the big cat is a full grown Bengal tiger. But they could not immediately confirm whether it was a tiger or tigress that was taking shelter in the forest.

While interacting with the IFP, the experts reiterated that the authorities have no plans to catch the tiger and rather want to give full protection to rare wild cat. While asking the villagers not to cause any harm to the tiger, the expert team assured all measures to prevent any possible harm to humans by the tiger.

The bones and muck collected by the expert team were brought to Tamenglong headquarters for further analysis.

According to the experts, the concerned forest authority has engaged five volunteers of the village to keep a close vigil on the movement of the big cat and also to protect the cattle from attacks.

Mention may be made that villagers of Bhalok and its surroundings have claimed that as many as 17 calves including buffalo calves were missing since the tiger started roaming in the vicinity of their village since the first week of December this year.

Meanwhile, a one-day awareness programme on joint forest management works of joint forest management committee under the second national aforestation programme of the forest development agency was held today at the forest IB complex of the district headquarter. The programme was organized by forest development agency, Tamenglong district.

The inaugural function of the awareness programme was graced by former president of the Zeliangrong Union, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, D Dikambou and presided over by L Gopal Singh, deputy forest range, Tamenglong.

During the programme which was participated by around 50 to 60 members of the joint forest management committee, resource persons spoke on how to manage wild forests, maintenance of the office records, files and registers of the JFMC and function of the JFMC etc.

The resource persons of today`s awareness programme were LM Singh, forest range officer, Tamenglong district headquarter, L Ibohanbi Singh, FRO, Noney, C Lalkholen, FRO, Nungba and K Kamson, head clerk, Tamenglong forest division.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bangladeshi villagers kill tiger

Bangladeshi villagers kill tiger
A tiger in Bangladesh which strayed out of a mangrove forest in the south-west of the country has been surrounded by villagers and killed, officials say.
They say that four people were hurt in the confrontation with the Royal Bengal tiger, an endangered species.
Villagers reportedly attacked it with weapons after it was seen near their homes foraging for food.
Officials say that tigers have been killed in similar incidents more than 25 times over the last nine years.
They say that far more tigers are killed in this type of incident than by poachers.
"The tigress might have strayed into the village in search of food," a Sundarbans mangrove forest official told the Reuters news agency.
Officials say that the forest - the largest mangrove swamp in the world and a UN-designated world heritage site - has been depleted of food following November's cyclone, which killed about 3,500 people and made millions more homeless.

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Panna could be next Sariska, alarm bells ring over no tiger sightings

Panna could be next Sariska, alarm bells ring over no tiger sightings
Thursday December 20, 02:23 AM
The Gods have been invoked, even official cash rewards announced. But nothing has helped in finding a tiger in the Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
Government officials claim the sightings have gone down because of an anti-dacoit operation being carried out in the region and that hundreds of policemen inside the reserve has resulted in the displacement of tigers. But locals and tiger experts are expressing fears that there might not be many tigers left in Panna. Some go to the extent of comparing it with Sariska in Rajasthan, which is now completely devoid of tigers.
A team from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which is carrying out a comprehensive study of the tiger population in the country, put the number of tigers in Panna at 24, in its preliminary estimations announced in May. But last week, shortly before it is due to submit its final report, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has asked the team to go back to Panna and reassess its figures.
Said Rajesh Gopal, member-secretary of the Authority: "Some people raised concerns that the tiger numbers are falling. We have asked the WII team to go back in the next two-three days to record the presence of tigers through camera trapping. Then only a clear picture will emerge."
This has been prompted by an increasing number of reports that Panna, at best, might not have more than four or five tigers left. A bigger question mark hangs over the presence of female tigers. In the last three months, starting October, there have hardly been any tiger sightings in the reserve.
Shyamendra Singh, who runs a tourist camp inside the reserve for the last 21 years and is a member of the MP Wildlife Board keeps a record of every tiger sighting by his guests. He vouches only for two sightings - of different tigers - since October. "It's a serious crisis, I am convinced there are no more than five tigers left in the reserve. That would be the outer limit," he says pointing out that not just sightings, but pugmarks, too, are absent.
Additional Chief Conservator of Wildlife in Madhya Pradesh H S Pabla claims as many as 20 sightings since October but, incidentally, all of them by the forest officials and not by tourists.
"Right now, we do not have much to worry about. But of course, we are constantly assessing the situation," he said. Pabla was in Delhi yesterday and left for Panna the next morning on what he said was a "routine" visit.
A bigger question, as well-known researcher Raghunandan Singh Chundawat points out, is whether there are any female tigers left in the reserve. Pabla said the 20 sightings by forest officials included females as well. But Shyamendra Singh remembers just one tigress sighting by forest guards in October.
A pointer to the crisis is the fact that the tiger reserve has announced cash rewards for people who are able to find a tigress: Rs 10,000 has been announced for the sighting of a tigress with cubs, and Rs 2000 for a tigress. A week back, local people reportedly also performed a puja inside the reserve to invoke a legendary baba who is supposed to have been very dear to the tigers.
WII's preliminary findings in May, based on the study of tiger populations in four central Indian states, had indicated a sharp decline in the number of tigers since the last count was done. The final report is likely to reflect the same trend with indications being that the total number of tigers in the country would be in the region of 1300-1500 and not 3500 as was believed earlier.

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5 held while smuggling tiger skin

5 held while smuggling tiger skin
19 Dec 2007, 0345 hrs IST,TNN
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CHANDRAPUR: Cops from the local crime branch here seized a tiger skin worth Rs 10 lakh on Saturday while it was being smuggled to Chandrapur from Chamorshi in Gachiroli district. Five persons, including a forest department employee, were carrying the skin, were arrested.
Police sources said on Tuesday that the team, led by inspector P T Sapkale, conducted the operation after acting on a tip off from an informer, that five persons will be carrying the skin to Chandrapur from Chamorshi.
"Accordingly, the team laid a trap near Haranghat village under Mul police station and kept a close vigil on the area. As soon as the smugglers reached the spot in a Tata Sumo, the officials attacked them. Though they managed to flee the spot, they threw the bag carrying the skin near the check post at Mul-Nagpur Road," police sources said.
Police after confiscating the 8.8-feet-long skin, went on chasing the Tata Sumo and finally got hold of them at Kolsa village under Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). They were later identified as Puroshottam Ramaji Devikar (48), a forest department employee and a resident of Mahakali ward, Sayyed Suleman Yusuf Ali (31), from Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh, Maroti Binfikar Katkar (25) from Indiranagar, Thakur Deenanath Rabtan (41) and Sadhan Kalipad Sarkar (38), both residents of Chitranjanpur camp area in Gadchiroli.
The accused have been booked under relevant sections of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 and further investigations are on.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tiger mauls Assam zoo visitor to death

Tiger mauls Assam zoo visitor to death

From correspondents in Assam, India, 08:05 PM IST

A 50-year-old man was mauled to death by a Royal Bengal tiger Wednesday at a zoo in Assam while he was trying to take photographs with his mobile telephone, wildlife officials said.

A wildlife authority spokesman said a family of four, including the victim's wife and two children, were visiting the zoo in Assam's main city of Guwahati when the incident took place.

'The person crossed over a barricade and went near an iron cage to take photographs using his cell phone. There were two tigers and one of them pounced and tore apart his hand... the other tiger also attacked him,' Narayan Mahanta, the zoo warden, told IANS.

The person was shifted to hospital and was declared brought dead by doctors.

'It was an unfortunate accident and probably was a result of carelessness on the part of the man to have crossed the barricade,' the zoo official said.

In another incident, wildlife officials tranquillised a leopard in the heart of Guwahati after the cat was reported to have been roaming the streets.

'The leopard in the last few days attacked and killed several goats and chicken in the area and was creating terror in the area. We have captured the animal and now shifted it to the zoo,' a wildlife official said.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Let’s save the tigers

Let's save the tigers
Monday December 17, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: Celebrities joined some 100 children at a tiger conservation campaign at the National Zoo here.
Singer Ning Baizura urged people to do their bit to preserve the animal that is facing extinction.
"Tigers everywhere are in trouble and the Malayan tiger is no exception.
"Forests are being cleared or reduced to small isolated pockets and this indirectly affects the tigers' habitat.
"Save the forests and jungles to save the tigers," she said at the event, which is part of the Race Against Time campaign, an urban outreach component of the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT).
The campaign aims to raise awareness and concern among Malaysians on the critical status of tigers.
There are less than 3,000 tigers worldwide and Malaysia has only an estimated 500 of the animals.
It was reported that over the last 70 years, three of the nine tiger sub-species have become extinct and Malaysia has one of the remaining six sub-species, the Malayan tiger.
Actress Susan Lankester said: "Tigers deserve to live in the world just like human beings. Imagine coming home and not finding your house there and feeling desperate to find food.
"The next thing you know, you get shot for trying to survive. It is the same with tigers."
Actress and TV host Aishah Sinclair hoped that more people would come forward and join the cause.
She urged people to stop hunting tigers for traditional medicine and their meat.
Local celebrities like Maple Loo, Chelsia Ng, Rina Omar, Yasin, Corinne Adrienne, Vince Chong and Xandria Ooi were also present.
Those who want information can call the Tiger Crime Hotline at 019-356-4194.

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Tiger skin in bus stop bag

Tiger skin in bus stop bag
Issue Date: Monday, December 17, 2007
A Staff Reporter
A tiger skin was found in an unclaimed gunny bag at a bus stand near Ruby General Hospital, in Kasba, on Sunday afternoon.
People waiting for a bus at the stand alerted police about the bag. "Officers from Kasba police station went to the spot. They asked people in the vicinity if the bag belonged to them, but nobody claimed it. They then opened the bag to find the skin, which is worth nearly Rs 7 lakh, wrapped in tarpaulin," said South 24-Parganas police superintendent Praveen Kumar.
"The owner must have left the spot briefly. When he came back and found cops inquiring about the bag, he fled," said an officer of the police station.

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Tiger trapped in Kashmir

Tiger trapped in Kashmir
Srinagar, Dec 16 (UNI) Wildlife officials in Kashmir have trapped the tiger which had killed several people and wounded many others in the recent past, an official spokesman said today.

He said the officials had trapped the tiger at Mawar in Handwara area of Kupwara district in an automatic cage on December 12.

The wild animal had killed several people and wounded many others besides taking away a number of cattle in the recent past.

The spokesman said the tiger had created havoc among the people in Machipora, Hanga, Darashpora, Nagnadar and adjoining villages.

The Wildlife Department had taken all possible measures to safeguard the life of the people from wild animals, he added.

The animal was later shifted to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Dachigam National Park on the city outskirts here.

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While Tml village lives in fear, forest dept says tiger will not be trapped

While Tml village lives in fear, forest dept says tiger will not be trapped

IMPHAL/TML, Dec 14: The state forest department has no plans to catch the Bengal Tiger roaming in the forests of Tamenglong even as the villagers of Bhalok village and its surroundings fear that the big cat might start attacking them sooner or later.

The wildlife warden`s office in Imphal has said that they have no plans to catch the tiger as there is as yet no possibility of the tiger attacking human beings. Efforts are also on to count the number of tigers dwelling in the area.

"We believe that more than one tiger may be in the jungle," said the chief wildlife warden, AK Rana during a talk with the IFP. He also observed that the tiger may have migrated or escaped from the forests of neigbouring states of Nagaland or Assam due to the heavy deforestation there which has led to the reduction of its dwelling space.

Villagers on the other hand said that as many as 17 calves including buffalo calves had failed to return since the beginning of this month and they assumed that some of them might have been killed by the full grown Bengal tiger that has been roaming in the vicinity of their village Bhalok since the first week of December this year.

Officials of the state wildlife warden`s office, however, said that the calves may have been missing due to other reasons.

The presence of a tiger near Bhalok village has been officially confirmed after a team of the state forest department visited the village and found pug marks of the big cat which was once announced to be totally extinct from the forests of Manipur.

A villager named Akhuaikhou of Bhalok village said he had witnessed a tiger roaming with his own eyes at Joupi mountain located not so far away from his village.

According to village authorities, most of the villagers have heard the roaring sound of the tiger at night as well as in the evening since the last around one week.

The villagers have stopped going out from their respective homesteads at nightfall and in the early mornings. "Villagers have also been warned not to go out alone in the forests even in the daytime," the chairman added.

As a precautionary measure and to prevent the tiger from intruding, jungle cutting operation has been launched by the villagers. Around 100 villagers are cutting the jungle between IT road and Joupi mountain where villagers believed the big cat is dwelling.

Even though the deputy commissioner, Tamenglong district issued an order on December 1 not to cause harm or death of the tiger, the villagers are disappointed with the state government officials who have not arrived at the village for hunting and trapping the tiger.

They said that if the authorities fail to do so they would take up their own course of action to relieve the villagers from the prevailing panic running in the village as well as in the neighbouring village.

In the meantime, the state wildlife warden here in Imphal, while appealing to the villagers not to kill the tiger said that the wild cat has the right to live in the forest and so far there is no possibility of attacks on humans by the tiger.

The officials are continuing their campaign to protect the tiger, the chief wildlife warden said.

He also said that the authorities had no plan to catch the tiger. "But we are making the villagers aware on how tigers become maneaters and the need for protecting the big cat. We are also conducting a poster campaign," he added.

While reacting to the villagers warning that the tiger would be killed if the state authorities failed to catch the tiger, the wildlife warden said, "That is very irresponsible."

"We are trying our best to convince the villagers not to kill the tiger and allow it to stay in the forest as the tiger dwelling there is not a maneater," Rana said reiterating that "it is the right of the wild animals to dwell in the forest."

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Body of tiger found near Corbett

Body of tiger found near Corbett
16 Dec 2007, 0322 hrs IST,Neha Shukla,TNN
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LUCKNOW: Is Corbett going the Gir way? A mutilated tiger body found
near Corbett proves that infighting in and around the park is
increasing. And, if the recent rise in infighting and death due to
the same is an indication to go by, relocation of tigers from Corbett
could be a choice coming up in near future.
Corbett is touted as one of the best tiger reserves with good number
of tigers present there. The density of tigers is pretty high in the
park. But, as has been reported in the recent past, the cases of
infighting are increasing in and around the area.
The latest incident is of Wednesday, when a torn and mutilated body
of a tiger was found in Raninangal block of Bijnore forest division,
near Corbett national park. The death, said the forest officials from
the area, was because of infighting between the two tigers.
"After we investigated the matter we got to know that it was a case
of infighting probably over a kill, in which adult tiger killed and
also ate up the hind parts of the younger one," said Atibal Singh,
forest official from Amangarh range in whose territory the incident
took place. The postmortem report that came on Saturday and
examinations by a panel of doctors proved infighting as the cause of
the death. Amangarh range is an area adjoining Corbett national park.
In the past, the instances of infighting among tigers in the park and
in adjoining areas have been on the rise. "In Corbett the density of
tigers is increasing, consequently there is a rise in the cases of
infighting for survival," said Singh.
The fact that is also supported by Wildlife Protection Society of
India (WPSI) an organisation that is assisting forest staff in
Corbett Park in conserving wild population there.
"The recent case as has been told by the officials is the cause of
infighting. And, in past few years there have been frequent cases
reported from the park," said Tito Joseph from the WPSI.
Although infighting among tigers is natural as the wild animal to
prove its supremacy over females and to claim a territory as its own
tries to drive out the weaker male from the harem (the group that the
animal moves in).
The territorial infighting, as guided by wild nature, is more common
in core area but the place where the body of a tiger was found is on
the periphery of Corbett. This could be an ample indication towards
increase in infighting for survival and not just for supremacy.
"Infighting among leopards was also reported from areas adjoining
Corbett which certainly necessitates better maintenance of the best
national park. Relocation, however, is a far distant choice as of
now," added Joseph. Although, officials and experts agree that
situation in Corbett is not as complicated as in Gir of Gujarat which
houses all the Asiatic lions in India, but timely consideration is
needed to maintain the thriving wild population. Director, Corbett
Park, despite repeated attempts could not be reached for comments.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Tiger action plans at work

Tiger action plans at work
Aarti Dhar
NEW DELHI: The National Tiger Conservation Authority has identified 273 villages to be relocated from the core areas of tiger reserves as part of conservation efforts. These are situated in 28 reserves in 17 States.
Speaking at the release of a compilation of Tiger Action Plans drawn up by 12 tiger range countries, Rajesh Gopal, member-secretary, NTCA, said so far only one village in the Sariska Tiger Reserve had been relocated. The 21 families shifted were each given a two-room house, 6.25 bighas of land and Rs. 84,000.
Mr. Gopal was confident that India had put the tiger on the path of recovery, despite some constraints. But he said the data from the tiger census were not too encouraging. The census done in four States – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – released a couple of months ago had shown a sharp decline in the numbers over the past five years, though the methodology of the census had changed.
The nationwide figures of the census are expected to be released this month.

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India may be endangering its elusive Bengal tigers

India may be endangering its elusive Bengal tigers
By Raymond Thibodeaux
Cox News Service
December 13, 2007
KAILASHPURI, India — A tale about the forest dweller and the tiger sounds like some ancient Indian fable, a parable of man vs. beast handed down through the ages and adapted by Kipling for Western consumption.

But this is a real-life story unfolding today, as India's government seeks to protect the country's dwindling population of Bengal tigers while balancing the privileges of man.

India has nearly half the world's estimated 3,500 tigers. But in a country where the human population has ballooned to more than 1.1 billion — most of whom live on less than $2 a day — the government is also focused on expanding the economy and reducing poverty.

India's parliament recently passed a law that enshrines the right of forest dwellers to remain in the forests and could allow the return of hundreds of thousands of people who abandoned their claim to the forest decades ago.

Environmentalists fear that the new law — known as the Forest Dwellers Rights Act, and due to come into force in the coming weeks — throws open the gates of India's national parks and reverses decades of progress in preserving the country's shrinking forests and the tigers that inhabit them.

"The economy is the priority now and everything else can go to hell," said Valmik Thapar, a conservationist.

A crucial time
As more and more of India's forests are logged or turned into farms to feed its ever-expanding human population, the number of tigers has plummeted from an estimated 40,000 in 1925 to fewer than 1,500 today, a figure that some experts say is the tipping point for extinction.

Many Hindu believers worship tigers and protecting the animal has long been a national goal. In India's northwestern state of Rajasthan, Ranthambhore National Park attracts tens of thousands of tourists every year eager to glimpse the elusive orange-and-black striped cats, the core of a growing tourism trade here that brings in more than $22 million a year.

But the potential strains created by the Forest Dwellers Act are plain to see here too.

About 200,000 villagers live just outside the national park, many of them former forest dwellers. They were coaxed out of the forest over the past 30 years with promises of schools, health clinics and electricity — all part of a program to protect the tiger habitat.

"By now, most of us have forgotten how to live in the forest. We are farmers now, not hunters," said Chittat Gurjer, 67, a slim man in a white turban.

The rights of India's forest dwellers need to be protected, the act's supporters say. Indian media reports that thousands of forest dwellers have been evicted and many forest communities violently harassed in recent weeks, which some analysts say is an effort to limit the number of people eligible to initiate land claims under the act.

Environmentalists and wildlife experts are lobbying parliament and the courts to strike down the law, widely seen as a populist vote-getter in the lead-up to next year's elections.

"This is legislation that no one in parliament can say no to. It's part of India's romanticized notion of forest dwellers as people who live in harmony with the land," said Goverdhan Singh Rathore, whose non-governmental agency, the Prakratik Society, provides schooling and medical care for many of the villagers who were once forest dwellers.

India's forests are the key
"That might have been true in the past, but the reality now is that if the growing numbers of forest dwellers are allowed to remain in the national parks and others with historic claims to the land are allowed back in, India's forests will be gone very soon and with them the tigers," Rathore said.

Luxury hotels and "eco-lodges" have sprouted on the edges of Ranthambhore National Park. Tourists pile into open-roofed jeeps and 20-seater buses that rumble along dirt roads through nearly 300 square miles of forest, passing langur monkeys, elk-size deer called sambars and monitor lizards that dart back into the brush as the cars pass.

But here, as throughout India, the chances of seeing a tiger are getting slimmer.

At least four of India's 27 tiger reserves no longer have tigers. Some observers believe that at least nine other reserves in India also are in danger of losing their remaining tigers to poachers or to villagers who set out poisoned carcasses to kill animals that venture beyond the boundaries of the reserves to attack their livestock.


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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Leopard and tiger skin seized

Leopard and tiger skin seized
Hubli (Kar),Dec13 (PTI) Animal skin including that of tigers and leopards valued at Rs 30 lakh have been seized and four persons taken into custody in this connection, a top forest official said.
In simultaneous raids on a house in the city and at Halyala in Uttara Kannada district today, the Karnataka Forest Vigilance Squad seized skins of 19 leopards, one tiger and 43 other animals, DIG, Forest Cell, Narayana Gowda told reporters.

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It's a shame we can't protect our national animal

It's a shame we can't protect our national animal
December 13, 2007
Text: Sumit Bhattacharya
We are a nation that has failed to protect its national animal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was told this year.
He was told there are only 1,200 to 1,400 tigers left in India. Poachers have been killing a tiger a day, mainly to feed the Chinese medicine market and for body parts. The tiger's habitat is shrinking.
We have known it for a while, with experts and conservationists screaming from rooftops that the last census in 2002 was history and there was a fraction left of the 3,642 tigers it said India had.
Maybe the country was too busy adding to its laundry list of achievements to listen.
"We were scoffed at, we were laughed at," says Valmik Thapar, whose documentaries and books have captured the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Indian tiger, in all its grace and gore and glory.
"Basically, we as a nation don't care," he says, pointing out that India did not have a Wildlife Crime Bureau -- it was mooted this year, the government is yet to find someone to head it, 11 years after every prime minister has okayed it -- despite trade in wildlife being the second-largest illegal trade, after narcotics.
"The prime minister did not know the Bureau was headless," adds Thapar, wryly. Key government posts for wildlife, he points out, lie vacant for years while India implements economic policies overnight.
"There is still a chance that the tiger -- the most charismatic animal on this planet -- can be saved, but we are fast running out of time," says Belinda Wright, conservationist, photographer and champion of the great cat.
"The tragedy is that we know what the problems are, and the solutions, but there is simply not the political or public will to turn the tide around for the beleaguered tiger," Wright adds.

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Wal-Mart has tiger by tail?

Wal-Mart has tiger by tail?
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 12/13/2007 02:52:55 AM MST
WASHINGTON — Is there a toy tiger in your baby's crib? If that crib came from Wal-Mart, an environmental group says the wood it's made from could be endangering Siberian tigers.
The Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit group based in Washington D.C., said Wednesday that it found Chinese makers of Wal-Mart's wood products, including cribs, are using timber from a Russian region rife with illegal logging.

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