Thursday, August 25, 2016

Damocles Sword: Challenging the Conservation Ethos

License to Kill 

It hardly seems true that badly ravaged and plundered ecosystems in India support abundance of wildlife, anymore.  Well according to the government this is true somewhere in some States. Hence the permission for legal culling of  abundant species is on the table. 

Our five thousand year (plus) cultural heritage which boasts of conservation ethos ranging from the Vedas to the non violent concepts of preservation of life have proved to be ineffective as far as human greed for wealth, especially in the contemporary times whence economic prosperity is of greater concern.

The  malafide addition due legalising this murderous assault on species well below the sustenance level in India is giving rise to lust for killing. Though the honourable have reasoned that this is being done to protect crops from damage hence boost economic growth.      

Taking advantage of this largess, it is alleged that the lustful are killing with glee even in premises where hunting has not been legalised.  

Wildlife in India is already under severe survival stress from rabid industrial growth, resulting pollution, unchecked human settlements, unplanned urbanisation and rapid deforestation. Though we are discussing about the contemporary era, Indian ecosystems have been ravaged since thousands of years, more so since the beginning of the Raj. The wildlife has been continuously decimated resulting in critical existence of many species and extinction of some.        

Barely subdued, the lust for killing by the wildlife protection act and awareness, the legalization may renew the fervour of the big and small and open up new vistas of hunting illegally under the umbrella of the law.

To worsen the matter the demand for animal parts internationally is posing severe threat to rare species. Rampant poaching is taking place in this country in neglected areas not forgetting the sordid incidences in the protected areas during this decade.

The sharp retort from Menaka Gandhi (within the ruling government) who is erudite in matter of conservation took the environment ministry with surprise. Well "overzealous" is what the ministers and bureaucrats usually think of such reactions and most of the sane conservation voices are hence subdued.

It is for the people enmasse to react to every ill advised policy, especially if it is published with populist desires. Wildlife in India is doomed till saner policies and proactive protection measures are put in place. Public should come into picture before it is too late.        

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

News: MP National Park Tiger Safari Rules & Rates

MP (Central India) National Park Tourism Year 2016  1st October 2016 Onward

The tourism in tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh has been accorded a big boost thanks to friendly changes by the State Government. 

The rates have been reduced and the charges for foreign visitors have been made same as that of Indian. The changes in rules and regulations are surely to enable more people to make incursions in the parks as well as at reduced cost (foreigners) on sharing basis for Indians 

This is bound to draw greater number of tourists for tiger safari and birding. The conditions for jeep safari though seem complex will prevent tourists from turning back empty handed. This will certainly benefit the hotels industry as well as empower the locals with greater work and benefit sharing. 

Applicable to Tiger Reserves = Bandhavgarh - Kanha - Pench - Panna - Satpura - Panna. 

Please have a look:        

Start Date for online booking begins 22nd Aug 2016 at 11am through MP Online Portal. This is the State Government website. 

 The Park Entry Fees will be Rs. 1500/- Per Permit  

There will be no more Premium Zones in Kanha & Bandhavgarh National Parks..

Single Seat will be introduced with 10% Quota from Online Tickets. In this case the person making the bookings will have to pay 1/6 of the charge while the rest five will pay the rest of the amount 1500 - 250.    

Tourists interesting to share the safari cost with others can do so at Add On Price of Rs.1500. For additional five tourists this will come to Rs.250 per head. For just one Add On Rs.1500 has to be paid.  .

Single Seat will be introduced with 10% Quota from  in Current Bookings.

Add-On Facility will be continued with following changes ...

In the original ticket, minimum 2 tourist names are must with the photo ID.

There will be no need to pay Add Charges for each guest. On payment of  Rs. 1500/- as One time Charge the rest of the guests can be accommodated. subject to maximum six guests per jeep. .

· Only One Time Edit, will be possible. Come one or come all at one go.

On the lines of railways wait listed ticket will be introduced. Only 25% of the Day’s Ticket Quota, will be issued as WLT. These tickets will stand cancelled, if not confirmed before 6 days of date of travel.

In case of foreigners passport is required for entry every time. For Indians any photo ID of the tourist will be acceptable during verification at the gate window. .

10) Guide Charges will be Rs. 360/- for each game ride. 

There will be no entry fee for children up to 5 years. Half entry fee is applicable for children between 5-12 yrs.

All the rules are applicable to game ride in the Khatia Zone but the excursion charges could be less. 

Jeep Safari 

For one game ride the cost will now come up to Rs.2500.00. The charge may be greater if the guests are picked up from the hotel.   

Note* Please conform these details from authentic sources least there are some discrepancies.   

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Tiger Conservation: It is a matter of space & protection

Although the tiger population has risen marginally in recent times, the animal is still in danger. Danger of extinction that is. The animal survives in National Parks and Tiger Reserves, these are protected areas. The survival can at best be described as precarious in some of the protected areas.

The core or the critical tiger habitat provides sanctuary to these big cats and a reasonable protection. This is where the animals breed the most. In protected areas, where human and livestock disturbance is minimal along with adequate protection measures the population growth is substantial.         

With the expanding population, the predators have to move out of the core into buffer in order to find space and avoid insurmountable competition from dominant tigers. The buffer zone contains human habitations with plethora of livestock contributing to grazing pressure and depletion of resources. The buffer zone which at many places has completely lost whatever reasonable crown cover was there earlier, also contains fields converted from forests during the era whence there was free for all. The road intersections, burgeoning and urbanization of settlements are all contributing to ever reducing buffer. 
Image By Doornik

In well protected ecosystems like Corbett, Ranthabhore, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench National Parks there is significant movement of tigers in the buffer. The constriction of good habitat is creating terrible territorial conflicts with fatalities. The matter is compounded by reduced breeding, and reduction in prey base.  As the population increases the space availability would be a major already is at reserves mentioned.    

The human population pressure is constant as there are very little restrictions. The viability of the buffer zone is limited, hence the big cats are entirely dependent upon the core of which there is no scope of enlargement since the dense crown cover is limited, thanks to indiscriminate felling in the yesteryear {s}.        

Image By Doornik

The matter is further compounded by poaching which is limited locally but more vicious whence organized gangs descend unto the protected area. The well known poaching strategy is using hunter gatherer communities like pardhis, bawarias and behlias and perhaps more. The innervated communities are easily subject to enticement by the network operating locally on the behest of major gangs in India and outside. Being hunters since yore, these are expert at their jobs and many an instances go unnoticed, hence the mystery of missing tigers...  

The demand is fueled by China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan and to some extent other Asian countries. The  pelts, crafts, cosmetics and medicines are commercially available all over the World. 

The demand as mentioned will never be reduced let alone come to a naught. These countries are never going to mend their ways, hence no time or effort should be wasted on convincing them otherwise.

Strictly controlling poaching and penury is an option that cannot be otherwise.          

Greater impetus has to be accorded to what is already being done in the core. It seems highly improbable that human settlements could be reduced in the buffer zone hence more efforts should be spent on afforestation, development of habitat by creating water bodies and preserving whatever is there already. 

The crux if this article is that in spite of human settlements, livestock and agriculture significant pockets of forests should be protected and conserved in the same manner as core. This can be done by integrating the protection mechanism with that of the critical habitat. The burgeoning of industrial or commercial activity has already been restricted by the law but more vigilance is required in order to plug the loopholes.

Veterinary practices should be enhanced in order to control disease and treat ailments amidst the wild animals and the livestock. 

Until unless more is done in the buffer the viability of tiger surviving would be limited to the core area.