Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Centre protests transfers of tiger reserve officer by MP,Uttarakhand

Centre protests transfers of tiger reserve officer by MP,Uttarakhand

New Delhi, Jul 30 : The Ministry of Environment and Forests has taken strong note of the transfer of field directors of important tiger reserves by the Madhya Pradesh and the Uttarakhand governments without the Centre's approval, and that too at a time which is the breeding season for the big cat and its prey animals.

''The change of guard at this crucial stage would only disturb the administration of forests inhabited by tigers,'' a Ministry official told UNI.

The Madhya Pradesh Government last week transferred 47 forest officers including the Field directors of the world famous tiger reserves of Panna, Kanha and Satpura and Sewni.

Moreover, director of the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand has also been shifted.

The posting of field directors of the tiger reserves is done in consultation with the Centre, but the state government has transferred them without caring to do so, which has been severly objected to by the Ministry.

The Ministry has already sent a note of protest to the Uttarakhand government and it would be calling the Madhya Pradesh government for explanation soon, the official said.

''The monsoon season is the breeding season for tigers and its prey animals, and special grant is provided for this period. The large scale transfers at this stage would only disturb the administration of the forests,'' he said.

Moreover, in the monsoon season, the tiger reserves are free of visitors, and the place is usually deserted, which makes it easy for poachers to do their job, so at this time the large scale transfers would make the situation worse, as the change of guard would naturally result in slackness and loss of accountablity for a brief period, said the official.

''In fact the transfers have been done mindlessly without least regard to the conditions conducive to the conservation of the endangered big cat. The Ministry was really taken by surprise by the reshuffle, and it would take all necessary action to set things right,'' he said.

The tiger task force created by the Prime Minister following the discovery of the loss of tiger in the Sariska Tiger Reserves had found many shortcomings in the administration of tiger reserves, and various studies and experts have been pointing to the low priority being given by state authorities to conservation of wildlife and the environment in general due to various reasons.

According to the latest census only around 1500 tigers have been left in the country, and the loss has been ascribed mainly to poaching and the encroachment on their habitat.

Poaching has mainly thrived because of lack of strict implementation of tiger protection measures.

The Ministry feels that transfers by the two state governments at this statge was a very unwise step and would greatly disturb the protection measures.

Tiger conservation authority on look out for the 'ferocious'

Tiger conservation authority on look out for the 'ferocious'

New Delhi (PTI): The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) which has been set up to protect the endangered stripped animal is on the look out for an 'eye-catching ferocious wild cat' to be used for its brand flagship logo that can best envison its task.

NTCA's move came after the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), an NGO headed by prominent wildlife activist Belinda Wright alleged that the tiger conservation authority has copied its logo and "using it without permission". "We want NTCA officials to look into the matter seriously and find some other design otherise there would be confusion as well as misunderstanding," Wright told PTI.

The NTCA has agreed to change the design and is now making efforts to find a new logo that bodes well with its image -- a protector of the endangered predator. "We had simply picked the logo from the website as a short-gap arrangement to move on with our work. However, we are now on the job to get the best image for the organisation," an NTCA official said.

Some officials of the authority, headed by Union Minister of State S Raghupathy, submitted a few sample logos for approval in their last meeting. However, NTCA disapprove the samples saying that the tiger displayed in the logos was a "meek looking" instead of "ferocious having wild instinct," which could convey the nature of business of the organisation.

"After all, NTCA is working for conservation and protection of wild tiger population. The design should capture well the image of the authority," the official said. Set up at the initiation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005, NTCA aims to protect the big cats in the wild where their count has declined to less than 2,000 according to the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Critical habitat zone set up for Sundarbans tigers

Critical habitat zone set up for Sundarbans tigers

Statesman News Service

KOLKATA, July 25: State forest minister, Mr Ananta Ray today informed the Assembly that the state government has established critical tiger habitat zone in both Sundarbans and Buxa Tiger Reserves.

The minister was replying to a question raised by RSP MLA, Mr Jane Alam Mian during Question Hour today.

Mr Ray said that section 38V of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for establishing core or Critical Tiger Habitat in Tiger Reserves on the basis of scientific and objective criteria by the state and the area so declared is required to be kept as inviolate for the purpose of tiger conservation, without affecting the rights of the Scheduled Tribes or such other forest dwellers.

1699.62 of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve and 459.13 of Buxa Tiger Reserve have been declared Critical Wildlife Habitat and the core areas of the two Tiger Reserves have been re-notified.

The minister also said that in view of the rising cases of tigers straying into the villages of Sundarbans, the Wildlife Board had held a meeting on 30 June and has decided to involve local people and panchayats to curb the problem. “Aged tigers are straying into the villages in Sundarbans in search for food as they are unable to hunt in the forest. Local villagers have agreed to release goats and cows in the forest from time to time so that these aged tigers could prey on them. This will prevent them from straying into the villages,” said the minister.

Kailadevi to get new status

Kailadevi to get new status

29 Jul 2008, 0427 hrs IST, Anindo Dey,TNN

JAIPUR: The forest department has decided to rope in the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for preparing a detailed report on the Kailadevi sanctuary, adjoining the Ranthambore National Park.

The report would be a precursor for declaring it as a tiger reserve.

A decision to this effect has already been taken by the department. Additional chief secretary, forests, Parmeshwar

Chand said: "We have already declared Kailadevi a critical tiger reserve, a step short of a reserve. The forest is a good breeding ground for tigers and the vegetation of the place is ideal to make it a reserve."

The Kailadevi sanctuary, spread over 674 sq km, is presently a part of the ‘buffer zone’ of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. The sanctuary is characterised by its wildlife, though considerably depleted now, and also by the several settlements of villagers, mostly shepherds. An open stretch of about 4 kilometres separates this sanctuary from the Ranthambore park.

According to sources, the declaration of Kailadevi sanctuary as a critical tiger reserve would imply a better protection of animals there.

"It would also ensure non-diversion of forest land for any other purpose. Besides, funds will also move in much easily," an official said.

It will also help in giving a boost to the adjoining Ranthambore National Park. Animals, especially tigers, from the park often move into Kailadevi in search of better pastures. Compounding the problems of Ranthambore is the its fast growing tiger populace.

"The Kailadevi and the Ranthambore reserves together will form a much bigger and better reserve for tigers than the Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR). While the STR is of about 866 sq km, Kailadevi is 674 sq km and Ranthambore is about 380 sq km," Chand said.

However, forest authorities added that before this move, the prey base at Kailadehas to be considerably improved.

"The grassland of the area and the water bodies in them have to be improved. Currently, the sanctuary has a good leopard populace. Once these things come through, structured tours can be planned in it for tourists visiting the place," said Chand.

The department has already floated plans to remove some of the settlements at the sanctuary and build a green corridor connecting Ranthambore to Kailadevi so as to facilitate the movement of tigers from the former to the latter.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nokia ties up with wildlife fund to save tiger

Nokia ties up with wildlife fund to save tiger

July 27th, 2008 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Mobile handset maker Nokia has joined hands with wildlife conservation organisation World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-India, to support the tiger conservation initiatives in the country, the company announced Sunday. Both sides have agreed to work together towards increasing awareness about need for tiger conservation in the villages surrounding the tiger reserves.

The joint initiative would also identify alternative livelihood programmes for the villagers around national parks, with special focus on the Ranthambore National Park.

Nokia India vice-president and managing director D. Shivakumar said: “The tiger population in India has seen an alarming decrease due to shrinking forest cover, and increasing poaching. We have joined hands to spread awareness about this important cause.”

Ravi Singh, secretary general and CEO of WWF-India, said: “This is an important step in bringing corporate institutional support for conservation, significantly tiger conservation, in India.”

Related Stories:

Nokia partners WWF-India to save tigers - May 19, 2008
Madhya Pradesh to help raise funds for tiger conservation - June 13, 2008
Bollywood actors come together to save tigers - May 19, 2008
First tiger ready to shift from Ranthambore to Sariska - June 26, 2008
Paramilitary trooper killed by tiger in Bihar - July 8, 2008
Tiger kills farmer inside national park - July 24, 2008
Tigress flown to Sariska to join lone tiger - July 4, 2008
Alarming fall in the number of Nepal’s endangered tigers - July 2, 2008
Four new tiger reserves to be created in the country - May 23, 2008
Sariska finally gets a tiger - June 28, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rs. 37 cr. sought for Anaimalai Tiger Reserve

Rs. 37 cr. sought for Anaimalai Tiger Reserve

V.S. Palaniappan

Pollachi: The office of the Field Director, Anaimalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), has begun preliminary measures for turning the 958-sq. km forest area into a tiger reserve.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has issued a fresh set of guidelines for implementation of the tiger reserve project. The forest area was the erstwhile Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park which was also declared a Project Elephant. NTCA and the Government of India had recently declared Anaimalai as a tiger reserve along with Mudumalai, thus taking the total number of tiger reserves in the State to three with Kalakkad–Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve being the first.

ATR Field Director H. Basuvaraju told The Hindu that a proposal had been sent to the Government seeking Rs. 37 crore of which Rs. 34 crore would be set aside for relocation and rehabilitation of the tribal population. The remaining Rs. 3 crore would be for other development works and modernisation. According to the 2006 wildlife census, Anaimalai has 20 tigers and tigresses. It was a healthy number for conservation and to ensure breeding of tigers, Mr. Basuvaraju said.

The forest managers would also take steps to protect the herbivore population so that it could serve as a prey base for the carnivores such as tigers. Initially, efforts were being made to relocate 1,688 families, i.e., 7,000 tribals living in 34 tribal settlements within the core area of the sanctuary, to eliminate human interference in tiger protection measures.

“Tribals will be sensitised to the need to shift out of the core forest areas on their own,” he said. However, there would be no compulsion or coercion. Two packages were being offered to the tribals - they would be either given Rs. 10 lakh for settling down outside the jungle or the Forest Department would provide land and other infrastructure.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sariska tigers begin marking zones

Sariska tigers begin marking zones
22 Jul 2008, 0620 hrs IST, Anindo Dey,TNN

JAIPUR: The relocated tigers at the Sariska Tiger Reserve are exploring the surroundings and have started marking their territories.

Officials at the Sariska Reserve have said that while the male and the female tigers had begun chalking out their territories, however, they were yet to overlap each others areas.

Officials say so long the tigers have been roaming across the length and breadth of the forest. "While the male tiger even ventured near human habitation the female has been shy. But it has allowed us to go much closer to it than we could venture towards the male tiger," said K Shankar, principal investigator of project tiger and a professor and research coordinator with the Wild life Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun.

He added that after having gone around a considerable part of the forest the tigers have just begun earmarking their territories. "However, while earlier their territories were overlapping now they are not. And they are in different parts of the forest," he said.

Shankar, along with his team, has been tracking the tigers ever since they were brought to the Sariska Reserve from Ranthambore. "The female though shy is intelligent and has been making more natural kills than its male counterpart. But being from Ranthambore they are not scared of vehicles and allow us to come near them," he said.

However, in their research on the behaviour of other animals at Sariska after the release of the tigers what has come as a surprise to the team is that even those young herbivores that have so long not seen a tiger are making alarm calls at the mere sight of the big cat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Project Tiger gets Rs 600 cr Central funds

Project Tiger gets Rs 600 cr Central funds

Tiruchirapalli, Jul 16 : The Union Government has earmarked a sum of Rs 600 crore for implementing Project Tiger over a period of five years.

Official sources told UNI here that the amount was not only for tiger conservation, but also for helping people who were likely to be displaced by the project. The project would also help to promote community-based eco-tourism in the buffer zones, they added.

There were 36 tiger reserves across the country.

The sources said a buffer zone near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve at Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu was proposed. Under Project Tiger, all the reserves were considered to be critical and Mudumalai qualified to be treated as most critical as along with Bandipur, Kollegal, Sathyamangalam and surrounding areas, it was home to a sizeable number of tigers.

They said the authorities were particular to ensure that the Project Tiger would in no way affect the lifestyle of those residing in the buffer zones of the core areas and relocation schemes would not be implemented without the consent of the people concerned.

Steps were being taken to relocate 358 families residing in 30 hamlets within Mudumalai, they added.

Palamau tigers await DNA test

Palamau tigers await DNA test

Ranchi, July 15: DNA fingerprinting would be used to determine if there are any tigers left in Palamau Tiger Reserve.

While the project authorities insist that there was a strong possibility of having approximately 30 tigers in the core area of the reserve, others say that there was none, as the striped beast had not been sighted recently.

The reserve recently started a project in collaboration with the Union science and technology ministry and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, to prepare DNA fingerprints of the tigers using scat samples.

The ministry has funded the project, which is being jointly implemented by the Central Zoo Authority and the centre.

According to sources in the forest department, 10 samples from the reserve had been sent about 15 days ago and many more would be sent shortly. They have already collected six-seven more samples from other areas which to be sent to Hyderabad.

This new initiative is a result of the controversy developed in the past two years on the actual number of big cats in the reserve.

A team of the centre accompanied by zoo authority experts would visit the dense forests of Betla after the monsoon to collect and analyse more samples. This would give a clearer picture based on scientific evidence and would also specify the number of male, female and cub tigers. It would also specify the genetic diversity if any, said principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) A.K. Singh.

A recent study and a tiger monitoring report prepared by field director of Palamau Tiger Reserve in 2007 indicated that the pug marks revealed existence of only 17 tigers. Nearly one-third of the park could not be accessed for pug marks or other signs because of rebel presence in the area.

Singh said that this had been the study of only 17 census beats whereas in total there were 30 beats. According to a rough estimate, the principal chief conservator of forests said that the number of cats in Palamau Tiger Reserve could easily be 30 or more.

“But a correct picture could be obtained only after a few months when the scientific study is complete.”

The remaining 13 tigers in dense forests — affected by Naxalite activities — could not be spotted and no census could be carried out there.

The last census done by the department in 2005 using the same traditional pug mark method had placed the number between 34 and 38.

However, the Wildlife Institute of India, in its latest report, had said that the reserve has not reported any tiger sightings during the phase I of its national survey.

“Our officials, rangers, trackers and tourists to Palamau had located tigers in recent times. In fact, they have also recorded it in the visitors’ register kept at the guesthouse,” said Singh.

Security beefed up at Sariska

Security beefed up at Sariska
16 Jul, 2008, 0525 hrs IST, TNN

JAIPUR: Security has been further enhanced at Sariska and Ranthambore Tiger reserves keeping in mind that monsoon season is known for poaching.

According to the chief wildlife warden, Rajasthan, R N Mehrotra, "We have increased the number of security personnel by 50 for both the Ranthambore National Park and the Sariska Tiger Reserve. This security is in addition to the present strength of policemen and ex-army men, who were recently recruited by the forest department, besides the prevailing guards at Sariska."

"Most of the poaching has been done during monsoon. This is the season when tigers migrate to the fringe areas of the forest and as most of the reserves are closed, officials prefer to go on leave. The poachers take advantage of these factors," said forest officials.

In fact, to just to be sure, Mehrotra personally went to Sariska to spruce up the security. Mehrotra added that the first pair of relocated tigers are doing well at Sariska and that the officials are looking forward to the relocation of the second tigress soon. He hinted that the third relocation from the Ranthambore National Park may take place in a month's time.

"Both the tigers at Sariska are in the best of health. They have been doing well and are moving about in the reserve," he said. A total of five tigers are to be translocated to the Sariska reserve by the end of this year. While the first three tigers are to be from Ranthambore, forest officials are keeping mum as to where the remaining two tigers would come from.

This follows doubts raised on the logic behind bringing the tigers from the same reserve at the back drop of constant breeding leading to genetic disorders among the cubs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Govt moots captive breeding for tigers

Govt moots captive breeding for tigers

New Delhi, July 13: In addition to the tiger relocation programme in Sariska Reserve in Rajasthan, the government has chalked out an innovative plan for captive breeding of "pure stocks" to increase the population of the majestic striped cat.

The plan is the fallout of a recent census which revealed that the tiger population in the wild has reached an alarming low of 1,500 animals only.

Towards realising the plan, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has recently identified six zoos in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Chhatbir, Chennai and Bhopal as coordinating centres to raise at least 100 physically, genetically and behaviourally healthy endangered species.

"No doubt the tiger relocation in Sariska Reserve has been a first major step towards tiger conservation measures besides declaring tiger reserves for the animal's protection in the country. But as exigency measures, it has been decided to augment the depleting population of the stripped animal in zoos.

Such managed zoo populations will serve as a 'genetic reservoir' in case of future need to supplement wild tiger populations or reintroduce tigers in areas from where they have vanished," B R Sharma, member secretary of CZA said.

Besides tigers, at least 50 other critically endangered wild species with less than few hundreds or less than 2500 individuals left in the wild will also be raised in the protective environment.

"And given that the number of stripped animal has declined to as low as 1,500 as estimated by Wildlife Institute of India and the predators' crucial position in the ecosystem, its breeding is high on our agenda. The reservoir will help sustain their population in forests as well in zoos," Sharma said.

There are around 255 captive tigers in various zoos across the country monitored by the CZA, an autonomous body of the Environment Ministry that will fund the project.

Only "pure stock" tigers whose single sub-species ancestry can be traced back through written records will be included in conservation breeding programmes, he said.

"At least 25 tigers having known lineage generation from each identified zoo will be bred with the opposite sex and the cubs will be reared under the guidance of experts for future exigencies.

"Though in the past, release of endangered animals like red panda in Darjeeling in the wild have been successfully conducted, no similar experiments have been tried so far with the tiger," Sharma said.

For genetic fingerprinting of the animals, assistance from laboratory for conservation of endangered species (Lacones) in Hyderabad will be taken.

World wildlife bodies such as world association of zoos and aquariums, conservation breeding specialist group (CBSG)/ SSC/IUCN have also been requested to be engaged in the activity, Sharma said.

Some of the other endangered species to be bred are snow leopard, clouded leopard, asiatic cheetah, golden cat and pangolin.

Chhattisgarh sets up committee on tiger protection

Chhattisgarh sets up committee on tiger protection

July 13th, 2008 - 10:35 pm ICT by IANS

Raipur, July 13 (IANS) Concerned over rise in poaching and threat to tigers in Chhattisgarh’s forests, the state government has formed a committee under chairmanship of Chief Minister Raman Singh for constant monitoring and to review the measures being taken for protection of the big cats. A 13-member committee has been formed under the Wildlife Protection Amendment Act, 2006, an official statement said Sunday.

The state has about 44 percent areas under forest cover. It has four tiger habitats.

As Maoist insurgents largely command the Indravati National Park in southern Bijapur district, forest officials have hardly any data about number of big cats at the park.

The central government included three habitats - Achanakmar in Bilaspur district, Sitanadi in Dhamtari district and Udanti in Raipur district in Project Tiger in 2007 while the Indravati is enjoying Project Tiger status since 1984.

Dudhwa rated second best tiger reserve in country

Dudhwa rated second best tiger reserve in country
14 Jul 2008, 0638 hrs IST, Neha Shukla,TNN

LUCKNOW: Dudhwa is one of the best managed tiger reserves in the country. The latest assessment by Project Tiger has placed the reserve on second spot, after Kanha in Madhya Pradesh. The assessment report assigned ratings to all the 28 tiger reserves in the country for management effectiveness. While Kanha topped the chart with 166 points, Dudhwa came second with 154 points and Corbett came a close third with 152 points.

The parameters on which the reserves were assessed for management effectiveness were drawn from the world commission on protected areas (IUCN) framework and adapted to Indian context. The reserves were assigned higher scores for relative absence of biotic pressures, gregarious woodland advancement, poaching incidents, fire incidents and epidemics.

The final scores in the report show eight tiger reserves as very good, eleven as good, seven as satisfactory and two (Indravati and Sariska) as poor. Dudhwa has been rated very good. Spread over an area of 884 sq km, the reserve area has been shown rich in flora and fauna. Apart from tiger, leopard, swamp deer, rhinoceros, cheetal, hog deer, barking deer, sambar, wild pig and ratel, it is also said to have at least 400 species of birds and 90 species of fish.

"This when the reserve manages to get on an average a crore from the Central government every year and almost nothing from the state government," said sources in the forest department. The number of tiger sightings is second highest in Dudhwa after Bandhavgarh, sources added.

Project Tiger might have placed it on the second position, but three mortalities that were reported from the reserve this year and the increasing incidents of man-animal conflict might contest the new-found position of Dudhwa tiger reserve.

"Dudhwa does not face problems which are existing in other reserves like breeding of exotic species," said VP Singh, a naturalist. The experts and also officials from the department feel that had it not been for sensitive location of Dudhwa, incidents of poaching might have been less. Besides, Dudhwa is a mosaic of grasslands and water bodies and this makes patrolling difficult in the region.

"The incidents of poaching could be high because of its proximity to the international border," said Sameer Sinha, president, Traffic India. Dudhwa’s security involves trans-boundary issues and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which is working with UP forest department and will organise a meeting next week in Lucknow to ponder over the same.

The evaluation report, however, has also mentioned about the problems ailing the tiger reserves. Things like inadequate equipments and vehicles, insurgency in some of them like Palamau, Indravati and Manas, loss of connectivity and habitat fragmentation, unsustainable pilgrimage inside some of them, late release of Central assistance from states to reserves and inability of some states to provide matching grants have been discussed therein.

The reserves were also assessed for dual control of buffer zones by reserves and territorial divisions, encroachments, livestock grazing, unregulated non-timber forest produce collection, forest fires, poaching, uncontrolled tourism, reduced manpower and increased average age of staff.

Reserves were rated better for activities like implementation of management plans devised by project tiger, organising anti-poaching camps, efficient networking with police, district administration and other agencies.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

John, Mike to save the tiger

John, Mike to save the tiger

Rashpal Bhardwaj
Wednesday, July 09, 2008 03:49 IST

Moved by tiger cubs’ death, Bollywood star decides to make a movie
JAIPUR: Moved by the tragic incident of death of two tiger cubs in a dry baori (natural water source) and rescue of one other by the wildlife employees at Ranthambhore national park last year, Bollywood actor John Abraham and environmentalist and filmmaker Mike Pandey have decided to produce a film on tigers in Ranthambhore.

The film would be produced under his newly launched company – John Abraham Entertainment. Abraham may appear playing with the tiger cubs in the film.The plans are much in progress as Pandey did a recee of the park during the second half of June 2008 and selected some locales for shooting.

“Pandey was in Ranthambhore for around six days during third week of June. He took several rounds of the park for all these days with a few other people. Little did I know that he was planning a film on the tigers” Ranthambhore tiger project deputy director RS Shekhawat told DNA.

On May 23, 2007 three tiger cubs were found in a 25-feet dry baori. While two cubs had died on dehydration, the wildlife employees managed to rescue the third one who also died after a month. The mother tigress kept taking rounds of the baori for two consecutive days as her pug marks showed. This topic would make a catch for the film but with a little alteration. Sources said Abraham was deeply moved by the incident and discussed the idea of making a film on the tigers with a message to save them. The film will, however, digress a little from real incident. It will show three tiger cubs and how their mother helps them grow up.

Abraham had told the media on World Environment Day on June 6 in Delhi that Pandey was among the persons responsible for motivating people towards wildlife conservation and that they would be making a film with tiger cubs. On the occasion Pandey said that Abraham had been doing a lot for elephants, tigers, monkeys and stray dogs. “As such we talked with each other and decided to make a film on tigers together that would be in the form of a documentary-drama. It would take almost two years to make it,” Pandey was quoted telling the media.

Bad weather for tigers

Bad weather for tigers

The local extinction of Sariska should teach us one clear lesson - never, never again should we take the security of the tiger for granted.

Morning in Ranthambhore. We had been watching flying foxes swoop low over the lake for some time when the tall grass at the water's edge began to sway. Near our jeep, a young tigress, peaceful but alert these past 10 minutes, raised her head and turned it in the direction of the rustling grass, the white spot on the back of each ear daring us to shift in our seats. A large shape became discernible. As our tigress rose to her feet, a low growl emanated from the waving grass. Then, just four metres from where we sat, the grass parted, and another tigress appeared, a chital fawn dangling from her jaws.

By the time you read this piece, both the young tigresses described will be on the search for new territories away from the famous lakes of Ranthambhore. The trouble is that there is little land available for new tigers. This is why serious efforts are on by the Rajasthan Forest Department to provide the tigers of Ranthambhore an ‘escape’ from the ecological cul de sac into which decades of deforestation around the tiger reserve has islanded them.

Sitting at Jogi Mahal across the waters of Padam Talao, we heard Parmesh Chandra, State Additional Chief Secretary, Rajasthan, say quite simply what his strategy was to remedy this situation: “Apart from physical protection, we plan to provide tigers with freer access to outlying areas that we have begun protecting more effectively, including the Sawai Mansingh, Sawai Madhopur, Keladevi, and Qualji Closed Area Sanctuaries. The corridors linking these forests with Ranthambhore are key to safeguarding the future of Rajasthan’s tigers.” We agreed unreservedly.

The empty forest syndrome

Meanwhile, a hop and disconnected step away from Ranthambhore, in Sariska, no tigers pad forests that once were the pride of Rajasthan and Project Tiger. The last one was killed sometime in 2004, thanks to a combination of determined international trading syndicates, unscrupulous villagers and a demotivated and directionless field staff. The plan is to translocate as many as six wild tigers back to Sariska, of which two (a male and a female) have already been shifted. This move, according to the Chief Wildlife Warden of Rajasthan, Ramesh Mehrotra, is timely because: “Not only does this have the requisite political support, but technical and financial support too. Of course this is still a very risky proposition that involves the shifting of villages, a national highway and placing curbs on an all-powerful temple board.”

Everyone who wants tigers to survive is watching the outcome of this shift with bated breath. When he was alive, Rajesh Pilot had promised us in the mid-1990s: “I will help rebuild the green corridor between Sariska and Ranthambhore.” Had his mission not been thwarted by a tragic road accident, Sariska might never have lost all its tigers.

The local extinction of Sariska should teach us one clear lesson - never, never again should we take the security of the tiger for granted.

Of course, even as we speak, more forests in India are being emptied. And the office of the Prime Minister of India is hopelessly out of synch with a growing number of national and state forest and wildlife departments mandated to expand and secure the fast depleting ecological foundation of India. Thus coal mines funded by the World Bank strip forests in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, while nuclear reactors and uranium mines are being contemplated in the strike zones of the Sundarbans, Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam and Kanha Tiger Reserves. This amounts to suicide for India, which will need these forests to temper the impact of climatic changes. But as of now there is little better we can expect from politicians who have chosen to aggravate our deforestation and climate change crisis by diluting the Forest (Conservation) Act at the hands of the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, which is poised to gift millions of hectares of survival assets to people who have no means to protect land from commercial brigands.

Though the tigers of Ranthambhore are relatively safe, the truth is that across the country, tigers have never faced worse weather, both literally and figuratively thanks to the ecological bankruptcy of our planning process and a political class that cannot think beyond the next election.

Finally, villages at Ranthambore to be relocated

Finally, villages at Ranthambore to be relocated

12 Jul 2008, 0601 hrs IST, Anindo Dey,TNN

JAIPUR: At least two villages would soon be relocated from the Ranthambore National Park to make place for the growing tiger population in the park. The land for relocation has been identified and a cash package for the same has been sanctioned by the Centre.

"We are in the process of convincing the villagers for relocation as it cannot be forced on them. One of the villages that has been identified is Indala and the other one depends on the willingness of the villagers," said R S Shekhawat, district forest officer, Ranthambore.

The four villages for relocation in the first phase have been identified by the Ranthambore forest officials as Indala, Kathuli, Mordungari and Bhir, which have about 350 families living in them. The second phase will see relocation of seven more villages. There are about 100 villages in and around Ranthambore that need to be relocated from the park.

The decision for relocation comes in wake of the growing tiger population. At present there are about 40 tigers and cubs in the park. The growing number of tigers has forced some of them to enter the greener pastures outside the park. First it was a tigress that had wandered away from the park to the adjacent Kailadevi sanctuary and now it is a male tiger that has gone into Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh. "We have done a profiling of the tigers at the park based on the pattern of the stripes on their body. We are sure that the tiger that has been located at Shivpuri is one from our park," said forest officials.

Tigers wandering away from the Ranthambore reserve are not a new phenomena and this has been happening for a long time. Infact, wildlife experts have conclusive evidence of tigers from Ranthambore migrating to distant places and ultimately falling prey to poachers.

Currently, the Ranthambore forest authorities are charting out moves to make more space for the growing tiger population. "We have already shifted two tigers from our reserve to Sariska. Some more will be going there. This, along with the relocation of some villages should make more space for them. In fact, the space occupied by one village is equivalent to the territory of a tigress while a tiger needs space equal to what two or three tigresses would need," added Shekhawat.

No plan to introduce tiger shows in Sunderbans: Minister

No plan to introduce tiger shows in Sunderbans: Minister

Press Trust of India
Posted online: Saturday , July 12, 2008 at 02:32:43

The state government has no plan to show tigers to the tourists in the Sunderbans in order to promote tourism, tourism minister Manabendra Mukherjee said on Friday.

“The government will not introduce any plan to show tigers to the tourists as it will not be in the interest of the Sunderbans — a world heritage site,” the minister told the Assembly. He was replying to the demands for budgetary grants of his department.

Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said that to attract tourists the state government should introduce tiger shows in the Sunderbans like other national parks. Mukherjee, however, said the forest department was considering a proposal to set up a tiger rescue centre at Jharkhali in Sunderbans where injured tigers would be treated. The tourists could view the big cat there, he added.

He also said the UN World Toruism Organisation was preparing a plan for the development for Sunderbans.

Bangladeshi wrestles with tiger to save brother

Bangladeshi wrestles with tiger to save brother

DHAKA (AFP) — A Bangladeshi man said he fought with a tiger for 30 minutes to save his brother who was critically injured in the attack.

The two men and their father were fishing in Bangladesh's Sunderbans mangrove forest when the tiger pounced, assistant conservator of the forest Bipul Krishna Das told AFP.

One of the brothers was rushed to Sharonkhola sub-district hospital and is in a critical condition following the attack on Wednesday morning, duty doctor Bablu Kishore Biswas said.

"The sharp claw of the tiger penetrated into his jaw. Luckily his neck is not broken, but still his condition is critical," the doctor said.

The younger brother, Masud Mollah, said that without thinking about his own safety, he approached the tiger and grabbed its mouth so it couldn't bite.

Masud, who is being treated for shock, said he fought with the tiger for about 30 minutes after it pounced on his sibling without warning.

"Suddenly, with no warning, a tiger pounced on my brother and he fell down the slope of the canal. He yelled to me to help him. His face was smeared with blood and the tiger was licking it off," Masud said.

"My brother had been holding a big knife, but he dropped it when the tiger attacked. I grabbed the knife, which was lying close to the tiger, and I hit it with the handle."

Masud said he continued to fight with the animal until it gave up and headed back into the forest.

Forest officials have said an increasing human presence in the Sunderbans forest is mainly to blame for a growing number of tiger-related deaths.

According to a UN-funded census, the 10,000 square kilometres Sunderbans mangrove forest, which straddles India and Bangladesh, is home to at least 668 endangered Royal Bengal tigers, with some 420 living on the Bangladesh side.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sumatran tiger takes up residence at oil company's office

Sumatran tiger takes up residence at oil company's office

Posted : Wed, 09 Jul 2008 09:26:03 GMT

Jakarta - A Sumatran tiger entered an office of an oil company in Riau province and has remained there for the last 12 hours, local media reports said Wednesday. The tiger, an endangered species in Indonesia, came through the front door and entered an office of PT Bumi Siak oil company in Siak district of Riau province in eastern Sumatra on Tuesday evening, the state-run Antara news agency reported.

An office employee, who identified himself only as Darman, was about to leave the office on Tuesday evening when the tiger suddenly appeared and went into one of the offices, he said.

"The tiger is still in the office room but we don't have the courage to approach it," Darman said.

The Sumatran tiger is believed to be the last remaining sub-species of tiger indigenous to Indonesia. The Bali and Java tigers are believed to be extinct.

Environmentalists said the destruction of the species' natural habitat by logging and uncontrolled development projects has resulted in Sumatran tigers frequently entering populated areas.

In addition, rampant poaching for the black market trade in tiger skins and bones has also driven Sumatran tiger numbers to drastically drop and there are only about 400 left in the wild, according to activists.,sumatran-tiger-takes-up-residence-at-oil-companys-office.html

Paramilitary trooper killed by tiger in Bihar

Paramilitary trooper killed by tiger in Bihar
8 Jul, 2008, 1732 hrs IST, IANS

PATNA: A paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) trooper has been killed by a tiger in a national park in Bihar's West Champaran district, police said on Tuesday.

Pramod K. Singh, an SSB jawan of 12th battalion, was attacked and killed by a tiger near the Kismi rivulet in the Valmiki National Park, a police official said.

The national park, which is Bihar's only tiger project, is over 250 km from here.

The incident has created panic among the SSB personnel and villagers who moved about freely in the forest despite warnings by forest officials.

Last May, a woman was killed by a tiger in the national park.

However, the tiger population in the Valmiki National Park has been decreasing at an alarming rate, according to the latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

According to the report, there were 56 tigers in the park in 2002 and the number came down to 33 by 2005.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tigers released to play mating game – and rescue species

Tigers released to play mating game – and rescue species

By Andrew Buncombe in Delhi
Tuesday, 8 July 2008

In the wilds of an Indian nature reserve, a soap opera is gripping the nation. The hero of the drama is a four-year-old male tiger who was flown to the Rajasthan park by wildlife officials and released last week. Yesterday, the heroine, a similarly aged female, was also set free from a holding pen inside the reserve. Now it is up to the two cats to play their parts.

"This is a real attempt to try and do something to help the tigers," said Valmik Thapar, a tiger expert and member of India's National Board of Wildlife. "There has been real consultation with the experts, and the tigers were carefully selected. All efforts have gone into doing this the right way."

The two wild tigers were moved to the Sariska Tiger Reserve from the Ranthambore National Park, also in Rajasthan, as part of a relocation experiment that has not been tried in India for at least 70 years. If successful, officials hope to move three more wild tigers to Sariska in the next six months.

The experiment is an attempt to confront India's most pressing wildlife crisis: a tiger population that once stood at more than 100,000 but could now be as low as 1,300. Loss of habitat and a failure to prevent poachers supplying the Asian trade in tiger parts has brought to the edge of extinction an animal that more than any other symbolises the majesty of nature.

Nowhere better demonstrates that tragedy than Sariska, which was once a royal hunting ground before being turned into a national park in 1979. In 2005 it was revealed that poachers had succeeded in wiping out all the tigers in the park. Shocked, the Indian government backed plans to relocate wild tigers from other parts of the country to try to raise the numbers. Ranthambore has 45 tigers, including 14 cubs, and there have been reports of territorial fights in which the older animals chasing some of the younger tigers from the forest.

Last week, Indian Air Force helicopters flew the Ranthambore tigers to Sariska. The male was released over the weekend and reportedly killed a cow that had been left for it. Yesterday the female was freed. Officials hope the pair will soon mate.

Belinda Wright, head of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, said this was the first time that a scientifically monitored experiment (both the tigers are fitted with tracking collars) had been tried anywhere in the world. "It's a bold initiative," she said. "Tigers are very tenacious – Ranthambore has itself twice had its tigers wiped out, and they bounced back."

The decline of the tiger is not confined to India. Within the last century it is estimated that tiger populations across the world have fallen by 95 per cent. Of the nine known sub-species of tiger, three are already extinct while there may be as few as 30 South China tigers in the wild.

While India's population of tigers has fallen drastically, it is perhaps here that conservationists are fighting hardest for the animals. "The killing of the entire population in Sariska was devastating, but we hope the reintroduction of the species in this reserve will spawn a new population and ultimately expand the region where tigers can grow and flourish," said Dr Sybille Klenzendorf, a spokesman for the World Wide Fund for Nature. "It is imperative that we take action now to keep [tigers] from disappearing altogether."

South China tigers teeter on brink of extinction

South China tigers teeter on brink of extinction

Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:21am BST

YIHUANG, China (Reuters) - Dragging on a cigarette between his wrinkled lips, Hou Fengqi fingered a dusty bamboo bow and rusty iron-tipped arrows, before recounting his days as a "tiger hunting hero" in the rugged hills of southern China.

"The first tiger was the largest, around 150kg, and when we carried it back to the village, everyone ran out and cheered," said Hou with a gap-toothed grin, casting his mind back to 1959.

Hou, now 69, is one of China's last living tiger hunters -- as rare a breed as the striped beasts he used to track in the misty, bamboo clad forests of Yihuang county in Jiangxi province.

"In the old days life was hard, so killing a tiger made me happy as it helped improve my family's livelihood," he said, sitting outside his wooden home beside verdant rice paddies.

While Hou bagged six South China tigers in his youth; hunting and deforestation have driven this keystone Chinese species close to extinction -- with none seen or captured in the past 20 years.

Historically revered as an archetypal Chinese cultural symbol, the tiger's decline was accelerated by poaching for traditional Chinese medicine and "anti-pest" campaigns instigated by Chairman Mao Zedong from the 1950's, to rid the countryside of the cattle-raiding "vermin."

Thousands of tigers were killed off with hunters praised by the Communist Party and paid a 30 yuan bounty per tiger pelt.

Now one of the world's rarest and most elusive of mammals, the South China tiger is fully protected by the Chinese government, with no more than 10-20 wild individuals estimated to remain along the remote border areas of China's rapidly developing provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian and Hunan.


While the wild status of Chinese tigers remains uncertain, there remain around 70 captive individuals, derived from just six wild-caught founders in the 1950's.

The last of their kind -- these tigers have nevertheless suffered inbreeding, dismal caged conditions, low birth rates and a tainted lineage from hybridization with other tiger subspecies.

In 2003, the sluggish, ill-funded and fragmented tiger conservation scene took an unexpected twist, with a scheme to "rewild" South China tigers in a South African game reserve.

The radical concept of transplanting Chinese tigers to the African bush drew fire at first from experts, but its aim of rehabilitating tigers to hunt wild prey in a secure, fenced off wilderness -- has led to the birth of five cubs, three of which have survived -- giving the species vital new impetus.

The tigers will eventually be reintroduced back to the wild in China, with a site already earmarked in Zixi county in Jiangxi province.

"We want to release the tigers back into areas where they've been roaring for millions of years," said Quan Li, the head of Save China's Tigers, the conservation body behind the project.

Tiger conservation initiatives in China however, have never enjoyed much state support, a far cry from the abundance of funding and nature reserves devoted to China's other flagship indigenous mammalian species -- the Giant Panda.

The tiger's fearsome reputation and its need for extensive territory in which to roam has made reintroduction of the species a major challenge in China's highly populated south.

"The panda and man can exist peacefully together, but an element of danger separates the relationship between tiger and man," said Xu Guoyi, the mayor of Zixi who is seeking financing of around $24 million to build a 20 square kilometer fenced eco-tourism reserve for "rewilded" South China tigers.

"This project is of course more difficult than the panda project, because pandas are a national conservation priority," Xu added, saying he was now lobbying the government for funding, without which the project might not get off the ground.

"If the (South China) tiger can help preserve wild habitat as opposed to being simply a source of conflict right now ... that's going to be positive for tigers and biodiversity," said Philip Nyhus, a tiger expert from Colby college in the U.S. who advises the Chinese government on tiger conservation.


Unlike the cuddly Giant Panda, an icon for the upcoming Olympics, the Chinese tiger's plight had been far less prominent in the public eye, garnering few headlines or attention.

Last October however, public sentiment flared when a poor farmer took what he claimed were the first photos of a wild tiger in decades, his story backed by local forestry officials.

The photos sparked an Internet and public frenzy, as euphoria at the rediscovery turned to anger, with bloggers and citizens dissecting the images to expose them as digitally altered fakes.

Public outrage at the "Tigergate" scandal led to the eventual sacking of 13 provincial officials in a rare show of people power in communist China.

Another recent video of a purported wild tiger in Hunan was exposed as a scam of a domesticated tiger plucked from a circus.

"It's so gratifying to see so many people paid attention and wanted to contribute money to our fund," said Quan, who has battled public indifference and bureaucratic redtape for years.

"China needs a tiger, a national symbol to resurrect its cultural value and its biological values," she added.

Despite the hoaxes, villagers in some of the remoter areas of south China, still believe tigers still exist against the odds.

Hou Fengwen, a teacher in a Jiangxi village, says he heard a growl on a mountain trek with his family two years ago.

"We heard a tiger calling, the sound wasn't loud, but the three of us felt the ground trembling slightly," he said, adding a subsequent search of the surrounding hills showed up nothing.

"There are tigers here, we just can't find them."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Attitudes Toward Consumption And Conservation Of Tigers In China

Attitudes Toward Consumption And Conservation Of Tigers In China

ScienceDaily (July 4, 2008) — The potential market for tiger products in China is enormous, but a vast majority of the Chinese public would rather have wild tigers than tiger-bone wine, according to new research.

The researchers examined data collected from a representative sample of Chinese living in seven major cities in China. The results show that while the Chinese public overwhelmingly supports that country's ban on selling tiger products, 43% of respondents admit consuming products they believed to contain tiger parts. Within this user group, 71% said they preferred products made from wild tigers to those from farmed tigers.

The authors say this confirms fears by scientists and conservationists that wild tigers would be wiped out if China reopens tiger trade as investors in tiger farming are advocating.

"We finally have data that show if China reopens tiger trade, all bets are off for the survival of wild tigers," said Judy Mills, Director of the Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking. "The remaining 4,000 tigers left in the wild would not stand a chance if demand were reignited among China's 1.3 billion consumers."

China banned domestic trade in medicines and health tonics made from tiger bones in 1993. Conservationists believe this ban has taken enormous pressure off wild tiger populations. Traditional Chinese medicine specialists now largely embrace effective, sustainable alternatives and have joined the fight to stop all trade in tiger products for the sake of wild tigers and the reputation of China's traditional medicine system.

The good news in the newly published research, the authors say, is that 88% of respondents are aware that buying tiger products is illegal, and 93% agreed that China's ban was necessary to ensure a future for wild tigers.

The authors recommend that Chinese authorities maintain the tiger trade ban and step up law enforcement and public education to eliminate tiger trade from any source.

Journal reference:

Gratwicke B, Mills J, Dutton A, Gabriel G, Long B, et al. Attitudes Toward Consumption and Conservation of Tigers in China. PLoS One, 3(7): e2544 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002544
Adapted from materials provided by Public Library of Science, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Related Stories

Viable Tiger Populations, Tiger Trade Incompatible (June 7, 2007) — In the cover story of this month's BioScience journal, leading tiger experts warn that if tigers are to survive, governments must stop all trade in tiger products from wild and captive-bred sources, ... > read more

Lifting Chinese Tiger Trade Ban A Death Sentence For Wild Tigers, Say Wildlife Experts (Mar. 13, 2007) — Any easing of the current Chinese ban on trading products made from tigers is likely a death sentence for the endangered cats, according to a new TRAFFIC report released today by World Wildlife Fund ... > read more

Threats To Wild Tigers Growing (June 2, 2007) — The wild tiger's population trajectory is "catastrophic" and its continued existence cannot be assured without improved conservation efforts, according to a new assessment. The area occupied by the ... > read more

China To Declare New Reserve For Siberian Tigers; Wildlife Conservation Society To Assist In Creating Protected Area Along Russian Border (Sep. 6, 2001) — With assistance from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Chinese government will create a new protected area along its border with Russia in order to safeguard the ... > read more

Carcass of beheaded 'tiger' found

Carcass of beheaded 'tiger' found

6 Jul 2008, 0526 hrs IST, Mazhar Ali,TNN

CHANDRAPUR: A beheaded and skinned carcass of an animal, suspected to be that of a tiger, was found in Sindewahi forest range under North Chandrapur Forest Circle of Maharashtra on Saturday morning. The claws and tail of the animal were also missing.

The discovery of the carcass, chopped into pieces in the bushes near Karghata road about 2 km from Sindewahi, points towards a poaching racket being active in the area. Forest officials have launched an intensive search operation in the jungle with other investigating agencies to recover the other remains of the body. The poaching theory gains further credence from the fact that the viscera of the carcass was missing.

Sources said villagers going to the jungle were the first to spot the carcass, wrapped in a red plastic bag, on Saturday morning. The people immediately informed the forest officials about it. About 8 am, a team of forest officials led by K O Semaskar, range forest officer, Sindewahi forest range, reached the spot and confiscated the carcass.

"We are still uncertain about the identification of the animal, and have decided to send the samples to the forensic lab at Nagpur," said Semaskar, adding that the meat recovered weighed around 25 kg. It will take around 10 days to receive the report from forensic lab.

He said the wild animal was not killed where the carcass was recovered, but somebody had 'thrown' it there after killing the animal at some other place.

Adopt a tiger programme 'more important than ever'

Adopt a tiger programme 'more important than ever'

By staff writers
6 Jul 2008

Wild tigers may soon be a thing of the past, unless urgent action is taken, such as more people adopting a tiger and supporting work for their protection.

Numbers of tigers on a wildlife reserve in Nepal have been decimated by poachers, reports the Daily Telegraph, making it more important than ever that people adopt tigers.

The Bengal tiger population at the Suklaphanta Reserve has been cut by at least 30 per cent in the last few years, according to a WWF survey.

Officials believe that poachers are almost certainly responsible and that there may be only 6-14 tigers left at the Eastern Himalayan site compared to 20-50 in 2005.

The estimates are based on the results of a long-term WWF camera trap study which almost ironically captured images of armed men on poaching expeditions rather than tigers.

The wild Bengal tiger in India is hurtling towards extinction and an Indian government survey last year revealed that there may be as few as 1,500 left.

The scientific survey was ordered after it emerged that one of India's leading tiger reserves, Sariska in Rajasthan, had been completely emptied of tigers by poachers, provoking a national scandal.

Last May, two tiger skins and nearly 70lbs of tiger bones were seized from the border town of Dhangadi and last month, two separate raids recovered tiger bones being smuggled by local middlemen through the reserve.

When a tiger is poached virtually no evidence is left behind because unlike other species - such as the rhino where only the horn is removed - all its parts are in high demand. The skin, bones and teeth are all used in traditional Chinese medicine and some parts even end up in Tiger Wine sold to tourists.

Jon Miceler, managing director of WWF's Eastern Himalayas Programme, said: "The loss of tigers in Suklaphanta is undoubtedly linked to the powerful global mafia that controls illegal wildlife trade.

"The evidence suggests that Nepal's endangered tigers are increasingly vulnerable to this despicable trade that has already emptied several Indian tiger reserves-clearly, this is symptomatic of the larger tiger crisis in the region. We need a stronger, more sustained response to this issue in order to protect the future of tigers in the wild."

Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, director of WWF's Species Conservation Programme, said: " Every tiger lost to poaching pushes this magnificent animal closer to extinction, Tigers cannot be saved in small forest fragments when faced with a threat like illegal wildlife trade-this is a global problem that needs the concerted effort of governments, grassroots organizations and all concerned."

Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve is 117 sq miles and is home to tigers, rhinos and the world's largest flock of Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis) and swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli). It connects with two tiger reserves in India, Pilbhit and Dudhwa.

WWF believes tiger populations have declined by 95 percent over the past 100 years, and says three sub-species have become extinct with a fourth not seen in the wild for over 25 years.

The World Wildlife Fund is monitoring the tigers in Suklaphanta, and strengthening anti-poaching patrols in the area. You can help to safeguard the future of tigers as well as giving a unique gift to someone you love by adopting one of these tigers.

The World Wildlife Fund want to give tigers the chance to live and breed in relative safety away from the threats of poaching, habitat destruction and forest fires. By adopting a tiger you help enable the World Wildlife Fund to monitor and protecting them in their natural home.

It can all be done quickly and easily online. When you give the gift of adopting a tiger, the person on whose behalf you have bought the gift gets a gift pack including a cuddly tiger toy, a fact booklet about your adopted tiger, a print of your adopted tiger as we as updates on the tiger you have adopted.

Click here to visit the tiger adoption web site where you can adopt a tiger with WWF

Two prosecuted for tiger smuggling

Two prosecuted for tiger smuggling

The Hanoi People’s Procuracy Office has ratified charges against two individuals for violating wildlife protection regulations.

Nguyen Quoc Truong, 44, and Nguyen Thi Thuy Mui, 49 – both from northern Ha Tay Province – were prosecuted for smuggling two live tigers, four tiger carcasses and products derived from other protected wild animals.

On January 7, Hanoi police caught Truong loading two tigers onto a truck from a house in Thanh Tri District.

In a subsequent raid on Truong’s house in Ha Tay’s Ha Dong Town, police found four dead tigers and two stoves which were being used to make glue from animal bones.

Truong said he had bought the live tigers from Mui and the tiger carcasses from the Hanoi Zoo.

The zoo later admitted to trading the animals without the approval of the forest management agency.

Mui confessed she had purchased the two live tigers from a man in Hoa Binh District for VND117 million (US$7,000) and sold them to Truong for VND320 million ($19,000).

Further investigations would be underway, the police said.

Sariska tiger walks free

Sariska tiger walks free

Jay Mazoomdaar
Sariska, July 07, 2008
First Published: 01:31 IST(7/7/2008)
Last Updated: 01:41 IST(7/7/2008)

Minutes after his eighth sunrise in captivity, the male tiger from Ranthambore walked out of his one-hectare enclosure on Sunday morning to discover his new 800 sq km kingdom of Sariska. Taking one of three possible routes — all leading to the Kalighati area in the centre of Sariska — created by park officials through a funneling effect outside the enclosure gate, he moved on to make a goat kill.

Being monitored round-the-clock by three teams of scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the forest staff, the radio-collared tiger still has the easy option to continue on a goat diet for a few days more. Like on Sunday morning, when three goats were put on the three possible tracks, officials will continue to offer the tiger live bait till he starts showing definite signs of settling down. Of course, the big cat has the freedom to go for wild prey, which is available in plenty.

The decision to continue with live bait, according to sources, overruled an alternative strategy considered earlier last week. That idea was to keep the tiger hungry for a couple of days before releasing him so that he does not wait around looking for livestock and rushes to make a wild kill.

In fact, the tiger’s freedom was delayed after he made a goat kill inside the enclosure on Wednesday. Subsequently, the arrival of the tigress on Friday and heavy pilgrim traffic on Saturday prolonged his stay inside the enclosure.

On Sunday, a team of WII scientists swung into action at around 2.15 a.m. They prepared a pug impression pad with fine dust and set up a camera trap at the gate of the enclosure to record the tiger’s exit. Then the team waited for the first light of day before opening the gates of the enclosure at 4.30 a.m. The tiger stepped out an hour later.

After consuming the goat he killed at 6.30 a.m., he spent his first few hours of freedom in a leisurely survey of a 2 sq km area between the enclosure and Kalighati. Later, he made a few short trips up and down the hillocks. Under an overcast sky and intermittent drizzle, he seemed to have taken it easy the first day.

Tigers in Sariska still under threat

Tigers in Sariska still under threat

Rajan Mahan
Sunday, July 6, 2008 (Sariska)

Tigers are roaring in Sariska again, with a pair from Ranthambore being relocated in the past week. All tigers in Sariska were wiped out three years ago in what's considered India's worst wildlife disaster.

But even as the big cats are brought back, the man-animal conflict in Sariska remains severe. Given the human pressure on the park, Sariska remains vulnerable to poaching and too porous a habitat for tigers to be really safe.

After entering Sariska, people normally head for the water hole at Kalighati - the most popular point to spot tigers since royal times.

And tigers may soon be visible here with the new visitors. Besides fitting radio collars to track the relocated tigers officials say several steps have been taken to prevent poaching.

''We are deploying ex-Armymen to protect Sariska. During the monsoon, we will also deploy soldiers of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and in critical areas in the park, we will also have night patrolling by our guards,'' R N Mehrotra, Chief Wildlife Warden, Rajasthan.

Despite these claims, serious loopholes still exist. Besides the threat from poachers over nine thousand people still live in the 28 villages in the park, four of which are located in its core area.

The Tiger Task Force had recommended their relocation before bringing back the tigers, but so far just one village has actually been relocated and most villagers are in no mood to leave.

''This is the land of our fore-fathers and if we are asked to leave we will face lots of difficulties. Our biggest fear is that wherever we go people will be hostile to us just as we would be if somebody is brought to settle down in our villages here,'' said Bhola Ram, a resident of Pilapani village, Sariska.

What makes the park so porous are the two state highways that slice through Sariska. Over 3000 vehicles pass here daily and nearly 2 lakh pilgrims visit the two temples inside the park annually.

But locals resent any move to close these highways.

''All our shops and business will collapse if the highway is closed down. And if there's no traffic on this route, people in our villages will starve as we won't have any work to earn a living,'' said one villager.

While the relocation of tigers to Sariska is most welcome, the man-animal conflict and the poaching threats here are still grim.

And unless these are addressed on a priority, protecting the big cats here will still remain a big challenge.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

1930: Story of the first tiger relocation

1930: Story of the first tiger relocation

6 Jul 2008, 0518 hrs IST, Prakash Bhandari,TNN

JAIPUR: There were no choppers then; it would be another six years before the Germans would build the Focke-Wulf Fw 61, the world's first practical helicopter. Radio collars then were beyond the realm of even sci-fi. And it would be another 20 years or so before New Zealander Colin Murdoch would invent the tranquilizer gun. This was 1930. Not many then frowned upon big-game hunting, or even realized that tigers would eventually become an endangered species.

But even then, tigers were vanishing from some forests. As the then ruler of Dungarpur - Maharawal Lakshman Singh (his son was the famous cricketer, Raj Singh Dungarpur) - realized in 1928. He became the ruler of this small principality in 1918, when he was still a minor, and then went to Mayo College, Ajmer, to finish his studies. When he returned, in 1928, he found that not a single tiger was to be found in the dense forests of his principality. All of them, it turned out, had fallen prey to shikar .

The Maharawal was furious. As he had been a minor, the principality was being run by a British political agent, Donald Field. He had a fondness for shikar , and it seemed that he and his friends had managed to wipe out the Dungarpur tiger population. Furious, the Maharawal shot off a letter to Delhi demanding an explanation. What followed would make the tiger relocation from Ranthambore to Sariska look like child's play.

The Britishers saw the Maharawal's point, and was willing to humour him. They suggested that two tigers be relocated from the jungles of Gwalior to Dungarpur.

A dealer, who was supplying tigers to various zoos, was given the job of getting the big cats for the Maharawal. And so it happened that the world's first tiger relocation project was set in motion. (Sariska, incidentally, is the second one.) Two tigers - a male and a female - were caught, caged, and put on a train to Talod in Gujarat. But Talod was still some 80 km away from Dungarpur. It seems a miracle the tigers survived the 80-km journey, mostly on bullock carts, and for some stretches, where there were roads, on trucks.

Once the tigers reached the jungle, the Maharawal banned poaching. He even stopped his two brothers from going game-hunting in the forests. The tiger population steadily increased in the forests. At the time of Independence, 25 tigers were reported in the forests of Dungarpur.

"The late Maharawal remained a crusader throughout.... His last great appearance for conservation was at the international symposium on bustards in 1980 in Jaipur," said Harsh Vardhan, secretary general of Tourism and Wildlife Society of India.

But the Maharawal also killed a tiger. In fact, it was one of the two he got from Gwalior. It was a mercy killing, though. The tiger had lost its teeth, its movement was slow, and the Maharawal was afraid it would become a man-eater. So, one day, he went out with his gun, and shot Bokha (the toothless one), as the tiger was then being called. It has been stuffed and preserved at the Udai Vilas hotel in Udaipur.

And as for the Dungarpur forests, they are empty again. Poachers made sure of that.

It’s Hard Out Here for a Tiger, World Bank Says

It’s Hard Out Here for a Tiger, World Bank Says

The tiger life used to be relatively simple: They stalked around dining on deer or boar or fish or whatever else took their fancy, and took swims when they wanted to cool off. The solitary cats were the masters of their own fates, and when they encountered a stray human they could choose between mauling him and impressing the hell out of him with their majestic, haughty ways.

It’s not so simple anymore. The number of tigers in the wild has declined from more than 100,000 a century ago to about 4,000 left in scattered pockets around Asia today. Developing towns with bursting populations have encroached on tigers’ habitats, reducing both their territory and their prey. The reverence that humans can’t help feeling for the animals has also turned sour, as tigers are hunted by poachers who fuel the black market trade in tiger skins and body parts, many of which end up in traditional Chinese pharmacies.

In response, the World Bank announced yesterday the launch of a Tiger Conservation Initiative that will try to bring wild tigers back from the brink of extinction. Many see it as a last ditch effort to save the big cat.

“Just as with many of the other challenges of sustainability — such as climate change, pandemic disease or poverty — the crisis facing tigers overwhelms local capabilities and transcends national boundaries,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said at the launching at the National Zoo in Washington.

“The decline in the numbers of tigers is shocking,” Zoellick said, adding that because of poaching, tigers in many supposedly “secure” reserves across Asia had simply been wiped out. “Tigers are disappearing from Central Asia, and from East and South Asia,” he said [AFP].

An Indian conservation group called the International Tiger Coalition questioned the World Bank’s moral right to conduct such a crusade, noting that the bank has funded road building and plantation projects in India that have decreased tiger habitats. But overall, the tiger-loving group sounded happy for the help.

The International Tiger Coalition (ITC), an alliance of 39 organisations fighting for the long-term survival of tigers in the wild, said it was ready to help the Bank on its initiative. “Nothing short of global action will ensure the recovery of tigers in the wild,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, spokesperson for the ITC and Asia Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare [News Post India].

As with any environmental cause, it can’t hurt to have some Hollywood folks attached to the conservation project: Harrison Ford and Bo Derek both showed up at the zoo to promise their star-powered support.

Meanwhile, the black market trade in tiger products continues to boom, as traditional Chinese medicine uses some tiger body parts as pain killers or aphrodisiacs. In one of the more disturbing developments, a British environmental group just announced that tigers may not be safe even in Chinese animal parks. The group’s investigators say that park staff members offered to sell them “tiger bone wine,” which is made from carcasses soaked in rice wine, and is believed to treat arthritis and rheumatism.

Staff said the wine was made from tigers that had died after fighting with other big cats at the venues. One park produced what they said was a government permit that allowed the sale of the tiger-derived wine on the premises, but the […] researchers said it was not possible to verify whether the permit was genuine [BBC News].

China is party to the ban on international trade of endangered species (and their body parts), but Chinese authorities have raised the idea of lifting a parallel domestic ban in order to take tiger products from “tiger farms” where the animals are raised in captivity. They argued that this would prove to be the most sustainable option because it would satisfy the demand from traditional medicine practitioners without threatening the wild tiger population.

Although this approach was supported by some conservation groups, others warned that it would undermine efforts by the Chinese government to curb poaching. They said that it would be cheaper to kill a wild tiger than to rear a captive one, and it would be very difficult to tell the difference between the two [BBC News].

The World Bank has already published a report on the plight of tigers, and plans to hold a Year of the Tiger summit in 2010 to review its conservation efforts.

We need to try everything

VIEW: We need to try everything
1 Jul 2008, 0001 hrs IST

In a global first, a tiger has been shifted from the Ranthambore National Park to the tiger reserve in Sariska in an attempt to revive the latter.

The three-and-a-half-year-old tiger, which was airlifted to Sariska from the Ranthambore National Park in a chopper, is one of the only 1,400 surviving in the country.

The big cat's move is being seen as the first concrete step towards conserving the endangered species. The plan is to relocate four more tigers over the next two years, looking to increase the entire tiger population of the park to 21.

Initial reports suggest that the tiger has settled in well, killing its first prey on Saturday. Experts say this is a good sign, indicating that the tiger has recovered from the initial shock that it would have got into after tranquillisation.

Any attempt to save a species from extinction is worth pursuing. There are few tigers left in the world. It's imperative that the tiger population across the world goes up.

It is with this goal that tigers are being relocated to Sariska, which is, after all, a habitat that is tiger friendly. There is no reason why, with better policing, tigers can't thrive in Sariska.

The same government is responsible for both the thriving tiger population in Ranthambore and the lack of tigers in Sariska.

It is hardly an impossible task for them to replicate Ranthambore's success in Sariska.

But tigers do need space to breed. Sariska is an established tiger habitat that suffers from a shortage of tigers.

That's reason enough to introduce more tigers to Sariska. There are also ways to tackle the problem of poaching. In Kerala, for instance, poachers-turned-forest rangers have been successful in reducing the incidence of poaching.

More recently, in Madhya Pradesh, former dacoits have been hired as tourist guides because of their detailed knowledge of the area, flora and fauna.

The world is watching this rehabilitation exercise with interest, as it has never been done anywhere else. There is no reason why the exercise cannot be successfully implemented.

COUNTER VIEW: Moving tigers is a bad idea
1 Jul 2008, 0001 hrs IST

There is too much hype and little substance in the so-called experiment to move five tigers from their habitat in Ranthambore to the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan to reintroduce the big cat there.

Translocation of wildlife is a practice that's adopted by wildlife sanctuaries in many parts of the world, but usually for different reasons.

Translocation to reintroduce a species in a place where it had gone locally extinct would be a bad idea because the uprooted animal is vulnerable to injury en route, it would have to hunt for food in unfamiliar territory, it would be separated from its herd and for all these reasons would be dangerously stressed.

There are other, more viable reasons why wild animals are shifted. In the case of elephants in Kenya and South Africa, when local elephant populations — because of growth in numbers, and not loss of habitat — began to forage for food outside their habitat, destroy-ing crops and stored grain, authorities deci-ded to move some of them to less densely populated areas to redistribute numbers, that too in large family groups to preserve their social structure.

So they don't undergo much upheaval except for the travel; they settle down in the new home with relatively little discomfort.

In the case of Sariska, the attempt is to reintroduce tigers in a sanctuary where poachers have killed off most big cats, undetected and undeterred.

The remaining tigers probably died of loss of habitat and trauma. What ought to have been done to preserve tiger numbers in Sariska was to crack down on poaching, prevent encroachment and destruction of tiger habitat areas and restrict visitor footfalls.

None of this was done. Timely intervention and strict regulation could have saved Sariska from becoming the no-tiger zone it is today.

Also, Sariska is getting more congested despite being designated a "reintroduced tiger zone". The two temples, a fort and Sariska Palace continue to attract visitors.

And a state highway cuts through the reserve with heavy vehicular traffic. Sariska's story is frightening. Leave the big cats where they belong, safe and sound.

Tiger adapts to Sariska, makes first kill

Tiger adapts to Sariska, makes first kill
30 Jun 2008, 0738 hrs IST, Anindo Dey,TNN

JAIPUR: The king has made its mark! The three-and-half-year-old tiger that was relocated to Sariska Tiger Reserve on Saturday killed it's first prey. The victim was a young deer introduced into the enclosure, where the tiger is housed, by forest workers late Saturday.

"It is a good sign, indicating that the tiger has recovered from the initial shock that it would have got into after the tranquillisation. Sometimes tigers kill but do not eat. In this case too initially the tiger didn't eat its prey but later consumed a portion of it," said an overjoyed director of the reserve R S Somashekhar.

He added that the tiger is in good health and has been behaving normally. "The first three days are critical. This is the time they take to recover from the stress of being relocated to a new area. In this case too the tiger has been preferring to remain behind bushes in the enclosure and is rarely coming out in the open. It is only by chance that the patrol party can sight him from atop the watch tower near the enclosure," he added.

The reserve would be getting the next big cat this time a tigress from Ranthambore in about a week's time, but only after the first tiger adjusts itself to the new environs.

A separate enclosure has been built close to the first one at Nayapani for the second arrival. The relocation of tigers is an effort towards the successful re-establishment of tigers at Sariska after they were all poached in

Studies by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, has shown that the Sariska reserve has a capacity of housing upto 50 tigers. "After tigers are introduced in pairs at the reserve we hope that they would breed. We are looking at a target of 21 tigers in the years to come. For any further increase in the numbers we would have to look afresh at the constant interference of outside elements here at the park," said P R Sinha, director, WII.

Sinha added that apart from reducing outside interference, more tigers or tigresses may also be needed to be introduced. "At that stage we may get these animals either from Ramthambore or anywhere outside as long as we can ensure they are Royal Bengal tigers," he said.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fisherman survives tiger attack

Fisherman survives tiger attack

By Amitabha Bhattasali
BBC News, Calcutta

An Indian fisherman whose father was killed by a tiger 20 years ago has dramatically survived a similar attack in the state of West Bengal.

The Bengal tiger struck on Tuesday as Fatik Halder was crab fishing in the Sunderbans mangrove forest.

For 20 minutes he was embroiled in a life or death battle with the animal, which bit and clawed him repeatedly.

Mr Halder then had to survive a traumatic journey to Calcutta to get treatment injuries to his upper body.

As Mr Halder fought the tiger he remembered that his father, Gour, had been killed in a similar attack.

"Around 10 o'clock in the morning, when I jumped into the water in Benifeli forest and threw in the [fishing] net, I suddenly felt a searing pain," he told the BBC.

"I didn't know, for a couple of seconds, what had hit me."

Realising that he was under attack from a man-eater, Mr Halder decided to fight back.

He thought of his two children and wife, who were at home waiting for him to return. He frantically dug his heels into the mud and levered his fingers under the tiger's jaws.

"The pain was becoming unbearable. I don't know how I managed to dodge the blows," he said.

The animal's teeth pierced his right shoulder.

It tried to wrestle him to the river bed with its paws but the water and mud made it difficult for it to keep its footing and it finally gave up.


Bleeding and traumatised, the injured fisherman then had to survive another ordeal - the 10-hour journey to Calcutta for medical treatment.

Fatik's heroic survival has already passed into local folklore.

He now insists that his fishing days are over and that he will be looking for some other job.

But perhaps he should consider himself lucky to be nursing his injuries alive.

A day before he was attacked another man, Narayan Das, was savaged by a tiger which clawed him in the neck inside the Sunderbans reserve.

It happened when Mr Das' boat became stuck in one of the numerous creeks that criss-cross the mangrove forest and he and other fisherman jumped into the water to push.

By the time his friends managed to fend the tiger off using kitchen utensils, sticks and other items, Mr Das was critically injured.

He was officially declared dead in the nearest town 100km (62 miles) away.

His family will not get any compensation, forestry officials say, because the fishermen were trespassing in the tiger reserve.

Haunted by floods, Sundarbans' tiger stalks humans

Haunted by floods, Sundarbans' tiger stalks humans

Sunderbans (Bangladesh), July 4: Flushed out of their natural habitat and deprived of food by floods and Cyclone Sidr, the famed Royal Bengal tiger that roams these mangrove forests is desperately on the prowl.

At least 11 people, including two from a single family, have been killed in tiger attacks in the past month in the Munsiganj area of Satkhira district adjoining India's West Bengal state.

Villagers in the marshy forests of the Sunderbans, which are spread over Bangladesh and India, beat drums and light fires all night to keep it away.

Announcements are made on microphones from village mosques to keep people on guard, particularly at night.

The figure of 11 casualties in Munsiganj is conservative, locals say, as there is no way to keep count of the woodcutters and fisher folk who fall victim to the big cats.

A tiger was trapped and beaten to death last month after it killed three people in a village, a New Age newspaper correspondent said after a visit to the Sunderbans.

Villagers now stand guard in groups at night and let off fireworks or beat drums, as they fear that the dead tiger's female partner might invade the village any time for revenge. They scream in chorus on sighting a tiger or sensing any suspicious sound or movement to alert fellow villagers.

Announcements from the loudspeakers of local mosques are a common practice in the Munsiganj area that has a population of around 40,000, surrounded by water channels and forest.

"Tigers cross the river (Chunkuri) very often to prey on humans," said Rabiul Islam, caretaker of the Water Development Board office at Munsiganj.

Locals believe once a tiger tastes human blood, it gets addicted to it.

The Sundarbans straddle both sides of the India-Bangladesh border. The Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans is home to about 500 Royal Bengal tigers.

There is hardly a tourist brochure that does not carry the picture of the Royal Bengal tiger as the pride of Bengal. But a galloping human population, encroachment of forestland and, finally, the natural calamities that ruin the natural environ, have all made the animal desperate for survival.

Apurbo Kumar Bhowmik, an engineer posted in the district, said Royal Bengal tigers might have shifted to the Sathkhira side from the deep forest after Cyclone Sidr in December last year.

"These tigers are suffering from want of food and attacking humans and other animals in the locality," he said.

The cyclone had hit the Bay of Bengal and killed nearly 4,000 people in Bangladesh.

Ainun Nishat, country director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said the main reason behind the increase in tiger attacks was shortage of their natural foods due to shrinkage of forest and other factors that have worsened the biodiversity in the area.

Fishermen, including minor boys, go for fishing in water channels in the deep forest and stay in boats for a month or long. They often become easy prey for hungry tigers and very little is known about their safe return, residents and forest officials say.