Sunday, May 28, 2017

Diamond Mining: Lure of the Lucre & Tigers

Eventually after much hullabaloo the diamond project in Bunder Region of Madhya Pradesh was shelved by Rio Tinto. Citing financial reasons the concern handed over the project to Government of Madhya Pradesh along with all the assets.   

Obviously the Bunder Region was not a good enough take for the company despite which they got the approval to go ahead. The project was mired in controversy right from the inception as the land contained a biodiversity rich profile. Situated near Panna Tiger Reserve and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, the area is a link between the local ecosystems and constitutes vital tiger corridor. The diverse floral habitats are home to leopards, sloth bears, chinkara and other mammals, birds and reptiles. 

Tiger experts unanimously agree upon the status as it falls under the tiger landscape. Under the stalled project more than five lakh trees were to be felled spelling an environmental disaster. Under severe opposition and administrative hiccups the project viability was deemed as poor. Eventually wiser council prevailed.    

The project envisaged reaping of rich harvest of roughs up to the extent of 27.00 million carats of rough. The open cast mining was discouraged and the company was advised to  employ alternative means to dig for diamonds.  

But the disaster still seems to be in waiting since other investors are being sought by the concerned bodies. It seems the major discouragement is the environmental bye laws in India. Nevertheless projects which are ecological disasters should in the first place never be envisaged. By the time the mining would reach end cycle we would have lost a substantial forest region for ever.    

Central Indian States MP and Chhattisgarh are rich in mineral wealth including diamonds. Encouragement is being accorded to major global players to explore extensively and mine the invaluable ores.   

But the lure of the lucre would fetch in loosening of laws in order to enable global players to mine with ease. India has impressive diamond polishing industry but most of the roughs are obtained from Belgium. Finding substantial deposits for large projects is enticing for Governments aiming to become of the major diamond producing regions in the World.       

Hence the sword of Damocles hangs over our valuable resources some of which are situated in the finest wildlife habitats.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tiger Conservation: Tiger Corridors in Muddle

Though a lot has been done for the survival of the tiger, it is still not enough. The growing population of tigers in some protected areas is throwing new challenges to the wildlife managers. The population of this big cat is nowhere out of the brink of extinction.  

Tigers need more space if their populations have to increase. But most of the space is taken over by human settlements including those in the buffer regions, and in vital corridors adjoining protected areas. Most of the corridors in India are mired in conflicts especially those that are hinderance to massive road projects aka development.

As per law no development activity is allowed within 10 km of mandatory buffer.    

The Pench - Kanha corridor was mired in such conflict between the Green Tribunal and Nagpur Bench of Mumbai High Court. The Court was in favor of expansion of highway that transacts through this crucial corridors meant for migration of tigers and other animals.

Tigers migrate a long distance if the prevailing conditions do not favor them in the place of residence. This is applicable to other animals as well. The migration provides additional shelter to animals and enables gene transfer which is vital activity since it prevents inbreeding which could be fatal to coming generations of the big cats.

Pench - Kanha corridor is one of the few unfragmented patch of forests which has made interbreeding possible between big cats of both the tiger reserves. Widening NH7 was proposed in spite that it would result in substantial damage to the forests as result of axing of trees. As a mitigating

solution elevation of the highway had been proposed, but that still involved axing of large number of trees.

Well to cut short development has won what with MOEF easing clearances for developmental projects that transact through niche habitats. A number of corridors vital for the survival of tigers are facing some or other kind of dilemma in India.  These connecting forests are home to wide variety of flora and fauna including the endangered species.

The muddle is formed between Green Tribunal, Courts, NHAI, WII and MOEF. The tug of war continues over large swathes of  forests that could be vital for saving the beleaguered animals that constitute the wildlife of India.

Though those in favor of saving the wildlife have proposed mitigation measure albeit at substantial increase in the cost of the projects. But this is the correct approach even if there is increase in the cost since the eventual aim is to save endangered animals for extinction and thus protect our environment and inheritance.

Conservation of our vital forests is mired hopelessly in developmental projects. These include not only highways but industrial belts, mining, settlements and other resource utilization.

Very few viable corridors remain in the country and most of these are not privileged enough to have a legal status akin to the protected areas.

Interesting News Articles

Expansion of Pench Kanha Corridor 

MOEF & Tiger Corridors

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tiger Surprise: Out of The Tunnel!

UK Guests at Courtyard House: Emma
Tiger Safari At Kanha National Park

Water Body - Uday Patel 
It was one of the difficult evening at Kanha Zone. The tigress and her four grown up cubs were not being sighted for some time and suddenly there was gloom. This is one tigress which is easily sighted and guides take easy credit whenever she is seen. 

So the first move that is made upon entering Kanha Zone is to drive straight to Link No.7 explore all the water bodies. It is most likely that the big cat family would be there and bingo your guests are all smiles. Many times it does not happen that way especially whence the family migrates to non tourism area.    

It was a bright and sunny summer evening whence we arrived at Kanha Zone. 

"What shall we do?" the guide asked. "Should we look for Neelam?"

There was little possibility of catching with the Umarpani tigress and her grown up cubs. They were not seen for some time. 

"Thats a good idea!" I exclaimed. "By the time we run through Link 7 there is no time for excursions in another area." 

So that was it and we began moving towards Schaller hide where Neelam and her four little cubs are seen. They are seen less frequently since the cubs are small and hence the mother keeps them hidden, 

A dull evening I thought. There was not a single vehicle on this tract and we were crusing alone. In safari it is always sensible to drive at slow speed else you will miss lot of signs that would lead to a tiger or other animals. And birds as well.     

We covered a long distance with no luck. We were making halts at many places to look for birds and animals. My idea was to kill time and wait for the Sun to mellow down. Tigers dislike heat and direct sunlight whence it is at its peak.    

Eventually we were to reach the culvert near which the tigress keeps her cubs whence in the meadows. A stream flows underneath in between the grasses that is a unique feature of Kanha Meadow.

It all happened in a flash. As we reached the culvert out popped a huge tigress from the tunnel through which the stream flowed.. I could see her flying away from us. She landed on the ledge of the stream  gnarled viciously at us and then trotted down to grass patch amidst the stream. She kept looking at us as curiously as cats do.   
Tiger in Marsh - Uday Patel 

We kept looking at her as amazed as we can be upon sighting this majestic creature no less a wonder of the World.

It seems that the big cat was resting in the cool confines of the tunnel in the culvert. Tigers love water and the stream flowing underneath must have been comforting in that blistering heat of the summer Sun. The noise of the engine awoke her from the slumber and surprised here. Well anyway the Sun had mellowed down and it was time for her to reach her cubs. We could not find the cubs around her. Well never mind Ha!   

My guest were spell bound by the sudden encounter but did take pictures as good as they could. Excitement rose towering over calm and composure as it usually happens upon exciting finds. It was amazing the big cat slid down amidst the grass and it became difficult to see here. Anyway the evening had been made. A tiger sighting for out esteemed guests Emma and her husband.    

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Booking Tiger Safari - MP Online Details

The details available on MP Online Website are in form of details FAQs, letters and notifications. The most searched information is the availability of permits. There is an option to book the  safari permit then and there.  Online payment facility is available on the portal hence you finalise booking then and there. Booking for other types of entry permits are also available. 

Most of the information provided is about the various aspects of tiger safari in Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Satpura and Panna tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh or Central India.  

If you are looking for the reservation page than you have to click on citizen services and then slide down to click on reservation after which the option to enter the National Park page will be visible. The Pandora's Box will then open for you.    

In the announcement section you will see the entry and exit timings, and the fee structure which is important for the visitors. 

If you click on the save the tiger logo you will reach the page on Madhya Pradesh Tiger Foundation Society. This non profit organization works towards wildlife conservation with emphasis on tigers along with its registered members. Further reading will enlighten you more,  Other links on the page point to Project Tiger and related aspects of tiger reserves.
Tiger Photo - Dharmagiri

On the page with logo you will find FAQ's on each  of the tiger reserves mentioned. This is important if you wish to know rules and regulations and various aspects of tiger safari in the reserves.   

The Faq is all encompassing hence tourists planning a safari to the reserves should read the respective information thus provided. The FAQ also offers information on Government  accommodation at Kanha but only the one at Khatia gate is available to public. It is basic accommodation. 

Hence tourist planning a visit should search for accommodation in Kanha on the SERP. This will lead to a large number of hotel websites offering a stay. The Kanha buffer contains five star, luxury and budget accommodation hence choose your pick.       

For more information visit MPOnline Website.