Monday, December 31, 2018

Brutalizing The Wild

The picture depicts how we treat our wild brethren and glorify our deeds. It also tells us that the World is a human dominated society where other life forms have no status. Well some of them have been labeled as endangered. 

At least mauling of charismatic animals in India is duly reported by enthusiastic writers and newsmen aiming for a victory reporting. 

The tigers and leopards are lucky because their demise is a matter of concern for those who are concerned thanks to reporting. The wolfs, jackals, deer, wild cats, antelopes, birds, insects, snakes all are dying but their demise is mired in silence. Forests are being ravaged unseen. We do not know when it will be too late. Perhaps there will be an alternative as humans are good at finding.      

The picture also depicts what most of the humans in India perceive of predators, and of course the benign species which are hardly ever reported dead. It tells us that humans that engage in this barbaric activity are illiterate and ignorant. Well not me! Some of them may be, but definitely they do not appear to be of elite class! But who did the decimation of tigers and other wild animals in India before the legislation? The burra sahibs - brown and white, the Maharajahs, nobels, all upper class and literate. Believe me if the legislation had not been in place these very elite now turned conservationists would have shot them all down.      

Those we see in the picture indulging in shameless revelry did not have the privilege to decimate our wild animals in the past. Are they making up for it? 

No they are just expressing extreme threat perception...and their ignorance of course. We have not taken up the cudgels to instill an iota of sympathy among them for these so called killer animals. The only thing they understand is what they see. A human gored by a leopard, man eaten by a tiger, child snatched by a wolf and what not. These are stray incidents that do happen and can be avoided with extra vigilance perhaps or better management. Why not? We are not short of wildlife managers or experts in this country who have proved their mettle.      

Why Not? 

Because we live in system which is only concerned with those with equity...purchasing power, voting muscle, wealth, clout and  all the desirable attributes that makes humans a big success.

Because we are overawed by the development mantra and sizzling scales of economy. We are indulging in luxury and comfort provided by things material. We do not care about the price we are paying for all that. We want more and more.... 

Politicians do not care for lifeforms with the missing attributes mentioned above. Bureaucrats those who do care are simply subdued by the lords and the system. We the people are busy with day to day life and many for amassing wealth and power, wilderness and nature do not come into picture or at the most a bit of concern. The conservationists, environmentalists and nature lovers...this fraternity  takes on all the load of the future to be. What happens when the ecosystems like tropical forests are inhabitable? What happens whence the rivers dry out as consequence? What happens whence global warming cannot be checked? The wild animals, nature all are inextricably linked with the habitable Earth. Well so many questions? 

Of major concern to me is, of the answer that we will have to give to the next of nextgen....or it may be imminent. For our lethargy, greed and neglect of the wilderness a heavy price will have to be paid. And the bells have started tolling already!         

======================
Uday works as Naturalist Guide
Contact: pateluday90@hotmail.com
Mobile: 9755089323

Monday, December 24, 2018

Use of Animal Parts in Medicine

India 

I remember whence in the days before legislation I saw my first tiger, it was a dead one, killed at Noradehi WLS in Madhya Pradesh near Jabalpur. The body was lying in front of my porch and a cobbler was skinning the poor predator stripped off all his glory and off his precious fat. The fat, the cobbler told me will be used to stem arthritis pain (sic).

Nevertheless I do not hear much about medicines made from animal parts in India, but the practice still lingers albeit in small quarters. In India thankfully, Ayurveda is popular and it stresses on vegetative matter - herbs, shrubs, trees, fruits, roots, leaves and barks and minerals to be used as medicine. This probably weans us away from medicine made from wild animals to a good extent.  However people still possess big cat claws in India as talisman or a matter of pride. This practice though illegal still persists clandestinely it has to be discouraged.   

Chinese System of Medicine

The scourge emanates from the TCM systems widespread and prevailing since ages. There are number of animal farms in China making medicine from tigers and rhinos to name a few. Although the country stresses on strict regulatory practice to curb use of wild animals the system of medicine is so overcoming that the country is a threat to wild animals especially tigers all over the globe. 

TCM has predated heavily on rhinos and tigers across the globe and is responsible for their endangered status. In India the threat is at high level with organised poachers using safe conduits or porous borders to smuggle tiger bones to in demand areas like China. Ironically the effectiveness of animal medicines usually consumed through culinary medium, powders and liquids has not been proven at all. Hence it is the responsibility of countries of consuming populace to stem the rot through legal means and awareness programs.  

To better understand the prevalence of such practices one needs to study the cultural ethos of that country. However chauvinistic this may sound many countries in the World have no regard for wilderness and do not practice conservation but rather allow the decimation of wild species within their borders. Many countries just pay lip service to conservation many do not care at all.    

Greatest impact accrues from the TCM where a large number of animal parts are smuggled illegally from all over the World. The policy of control in China is impractical and vacillates the country is not at all serious about the havoc TCM is causing rather there are proponents that favor it.  This erratic healing practices is having a negative impact of large number of species including dogs, snakes, pangolin, bears, tigers, rhinos, deer, antelope, seahorses, sharks....there is a long list which informs us of the number of species that is being exterminated by this ancient healing practice. 

Other Animals Victimized

Bear in Vietnam and China are imprisoned and their bile extracted for medicinal purposes. This is illegal but the trade is carried out clandestinely.    

Elephant tusks are used for creating artifacts in Japan & China and as traditional medicine in China and many other parts of the Worlds. A large number of pachyderms in Africa and Asia are under severe threat due to this practice.   

Musk Deer the liquid exuded from musk deer scent pods is used in perfumery but this animal parts are also used in TCM. 

Pangolin are extensively used in TCM for various medicinal preparation. The species is on verge of extinction and may not survive more than few decades. 

Medicinal Practices Using Wild Animals 

This practice is widespread prevalent including in India but unlike TCM the impact is local and subject to legal action if discovered. Incredible number of life forms are subjected to torture and killing for their parts having medicinal value which is usually not verified.  Most of the practices are now losing ground since the restrictions and unavailability are discouraging. 

Organized poaching is resulting in extermination of many species on Earth and the maximum blame is accorded to TCM. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Kids For Tigers A Conservation Initiative

Catch them young! 

Kids for Tigers Sanctuary Asia

The program aims at creating awareness and love for nature amongst the growing children in a holistic manner with the critically endangered tiger in focus. In an ambience stifled by disastrous policies and equally disastrous road map for development it is crucial to give birth to future statesmen, bureaucrats, politicians, opinion makers and all else who will govern this country in time to come and shape policies that would preserve, regulate and enhance environmental aspects favourably. This conservation initiative is a commendable effort by Sanctuary Asia and editor/publisher (conservationist) Bittu Sahgal.
India today is at crossroad entangled by issues that will have a pronounced futuristic impact on our environment. Lethargy, ineptitude, clear cut disregard and a hasty and unplanned approach to development that does not seem to be India specific is having a telling effect. 

The present generation's attitude is by all means rapacious where in the greed, urgent populist developmental approach would destroy our natural lands and rivers further - the crucial sources of fresh air, clean water and healthy food.    

Human Centric Approach - Absolute Disregard for Nature or Other Life Forms

Conservation today is a crusade to save whatever remains. It is not a one up mechanism or anti-establishment or an elitist ideologue - it is a practical approach as to how we shape our Earth by our activities.   

In the contemporary era we have ravaged forests, occupied grasslands, damaged desert ecology, junked mountains and streams, and the dismal state of our rivers is not hidden by any means. A large number of species have become extinct and equally large number of species are facing imminent extinction. The fossil fuels are eroding our protective outer layers and Co2 emissions are sounding the death knell. 

Why Bother?

Well if climate change does not augur an alarm then further degradation will be bound to have a greater impact on our lives - negative. Our coming generations will pay the price since negative environmental impact has not been instantaneous to cause an alarm. Nature fights back to equalise and hence the impact of wrongdoings may be excruciatingly slow due to the tug of war. This deceives us into thinking that all we are doing is right.         

In an overpopulated country like India aiming to be a leader in economic pursuits the pressure on natural resources is very much evident.  Over the graveyards of our ecosystems we are building four lane highways, ever expanding settlements, airports, malls, factories, recreational centers etc and all at reckless speed.

We want to create a grandeur that far outdoes cities in the developed World.  In the process we fail to realise the environmental havoc we are giving birth to, we fail to realize the sudden upsurge of deadly and crippling diseases, rise of disabilities and an overall increase in mortality due to negative environmental factors that we have created in the rush. We fail to realize the social and economic disparities, religious extremism, rising crime and deadly violence because we have moved away from nature. All we see is the materialistic elements around us and we wish for more and more, the hunger will never be satiated.         

Much in need for circumspection, the path to development is raking havoc as forests are being dissected for highways, pathways and whatnot.  The rivers are facing unprecedented pollution from industrial effluents and mega dams, linking, and diversions that could inundate crucial ecosystems, endanger vulnerable species that are unable to withstand the unnatural ecological impacts. Our mining activities are nothing but disastrous as large chunks of land go infertile and  completely ravaged. Our industrial belts are spewing venom unchecked and the expanding urbanity is engulfing remaining wilderness. We have moved away from the Vedas! 

All this negativity requires thought, sincerity and planning before we rush into things. And if we adults have failed  or overpowered by short sight or greed the disaster awaits. 

The kids for tigers program tends to shape vision among the young with its recreational educational outreach to inculcate better values and sensitise the coming generation about nature. Hundreds of schools have participated in this program through film shows, lectures, audio visuals and nature outings etc. This is a wonderful outreach for making a better tomorrow for India and its tigers which are a dependent upon us to preserve their ecosystems .   

I have conducted slide shows/lectures in over forty schools and the enthusiasm among the children and school teachers has been palpable and encouraging.   



FaceBook Page of Kids for Tigers 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Breeding Tigers!

Guests Colin & Lynn & Family : Angela UK
Courtyard House Kanha

Banno Cubs!
Tiger - Uday Patel 

Reaching the spot where we missed seeing two tiger cubs a day before was again a disappointment. But I had decided to keep the spot under the scanner. So as always happens we began exploring the nearby area for the tiger that frequents. The male tiger was nowhere and we moved back again there was no sign of the cubs....disappointment. Have they moved away as predators always do...   

Tracking tigers is a game of patience, logical thinking, and it tests your skills using the sensory apparatus. We were waiting at the nearest cross road since all the jeeps had exhausted their search for the cubs at that spot and there was no hope. The waiting made me think. Yesterday whence we had missed the cubs there was no sign of the mother. Today also she was untraceable...that meant she was probably out hunting as six months old tigers could have a voracious appetite. So I began speaking to the guide explaining him that since the mother was not around for two days the cubs would probably be there hidden in the bushes at the same spot.  A questioning look on his countenance made me speak further. 

"The cubs would not move without their mother or until unless she calls them." I said.

This was unlikely to have happened. So I decided to to station our jeep near the spot and not at the crossroad planning for a search elsewhere. As we were reversing...on the rock sitting silently was a tiger cub staring curiously right at me the jeeps having gone it felt reassured to savor the warmth of the rock heated by the emerging sun. It had rained the previous night and hovering clouds made the matter worse. 

"Back," I shouted." 

The cub kept on looking at us curious and bit surprised. He changed his stance and angle to have a good look at us. Oh! "Mother never told of this weird animal!"  

My guests could photograph it well before the arrival of the second jeep pushed it back into the rocky bush never to emerge.        

This tigress had two cubs aged six months. Banno is one of the shyest animal in the park, and I have been spotting her paw prints since last two years but could never see her.   

Breeding Tigers 



Kanha National Park has provided excellent breeding ground for the big cats...but in my years of searching for tigers I have always found the cubs within the periphery of  the core zone. A core zone in the protected area of tiger reserve is devoid of human settlements, agrarian activities and trespasse. 

In this area only the staff are allowed to reside while tourists maneuver in twenty percent of the area and exit whence the time is over. This means there is little disturbance to breeding tigers from activities of people. Surprisingly they have immense toleration for jeeps...probably they consider it  as another animal, and in time to come after frequent encounters...harmless.     

While rearing cubs the mother has to move the family frequently albeit in the territory controlled by the male whom she has mated with. Though her territory is usually small there is ample space for moving cubs time to time to keep them safe. 

Tigress With Cub Courtesy Navneet Maheshwari


In the core zone the prey base is very high and within reach. The growing cubs have to be fed frequently and the mother has to eat to frequently too. A low prey base would definitely affect the breeding.  In fact tigers breed corresponding to the available prey base. 

Discounting internal mortality between the specie due to conflicts, predation of cubs, and breeding prerogative amongst the strongest, the survival rate is very high and at times it can be hundred percent. This has been seen in the tourism area since rest of the core is out of bounds for the public.   

Buffer Zone 

All this is not possible within the buffer zone of a protected area as human settlements, agriculture and commercial activities abound. Though tigers live here too, but they are there because of territorial implications. Breeding if any is surely limited.      

Big males frequent the area as some of them prefer livestock that offers more meat per kill. Females frequent areas adjoining to the core but their presence is very weak as I have noted. Creating buffer zone for tourism is a good step as it will accord additional area for the big cat movement in time to come. Unfortunately live stock still plunder the buffer tourism areas and there is distinct shortage of water. For the fear of poisoning by habitual poachers water holes or saucers are not created. Hence the prey base is extremely thin because of the dry terrain, water shortage, livestock grazing and frequent human movement on foot and vehicles. 

Ironically in order to sustain tourism in buffer zone they will have to be turned practically like the core zone. Only then the big cats will move and breed in the buffer favoring tourism as well. Till then the core will sustain breeding populations, but the extra space required for increasing population in the protected areas is a dim possibility with buffer being just a namesake. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Safari at Satpura Tiger Reserve - Forsyth's Land

Satpura Tiger Reserve 
Forsyth Lodge

Lobby Forsyth 



Forsyth Lodge - Sustainable Hospitality 

Like a swish of fresh air the place descends upon you. Travelling to an unknown destination is full of surprises and Forsyth Lodge was our first one. The lodge manager's connectivity helped us reach  without much trouble.     

The welcoming faces and the warm interiors both did wonders to our sagging spirits after a long trudge of four hours from Jabalpur. Already delayed we managed a sneak peak into the forests of Satpura with Deepankar the lodge manager at helm. 
Dining 

Deer
The lodge encapsulates forty four acres of natural land with lush green vegetation  - climber, herbs, shrubs, grass and trees - wild to the core. Leopards, jungle cats and sloth bears are visitors along with the deer species. If you are a birder or a butterfly enthusiast you will relish going through the land. A trained naturalist is always in sight at this wildlife resort to help you.  

The hospitality at the lodge was reassuring...we were at the right place. Evening was fun besides the pool with wholesome delicious bits and warm fire to celebrate and chill. Asim and Manna the naturalists regaled us with some startling jungle lore and their knowledge of diversity of Satpura. There was more in store with sumptuous dinner to follow. It was the best of Indian cuisine...delicious to the core and tongue tingling till the last morsel. What more could we wish for ...a sound sleep in a cosy cottage and we fell for it. 

Rooms are spacious with balanced decor, aesthetic lights and well equipped with soft king size beds , accessories, peripherals and large attached bath. The separate cottages have a sitout large enough to seat a group overlooking the wild backyard. At Forsyth aesthetics and comfort have been kept in mind will designing, and the staff complements the build with their excellence.   



The safaris are well organised at Forsyth with a trained naturalist accompanying the guests. We were lucky to have Deepanker with us ...an honour. The munch is generous at Forsyth the jungle breakfast was well balanced with chicken sandwich, eggs, juices, cakes, cookies, tea, coffee and fruits. "That's enough now ...no lunch" said my guest Poonam. "Wait". I blurted. Lunch and Dinner are a gastronomic delights at Forsyth and we did full justice.  

The Jungle! On Safari!

As the sun breaks in soft strands of light fall on the floor highlighting the grass and the fortunate trees woken up with a jolt from slumber. The chirping of birds announce the day and loud raucous alarm cries of langur inform us that some excitement lies in store.  The leopard sulks amidst the grass as light descends unto the depression and we see him moving from one avenue to another. Our hearts thumping we move on for more is definitely coming.  

We were at a place called Ladda in the park and all around us was typical Satpura terrain...rivulets, pools bursting at seams, rocky outcrops and spurs, grass and dense canopies full of mixed variety of trees and impressive teak.  

The biodiversity that prevails is astounding, just what James Forsyth had discovered in the heydays of the Raj. If you wish to go back into the past read "The Highlands of Central India". 

With turbulent landscape comprising of verdant hills, fissured rocks, deep glens, rivulets, pools and tall stands, climbers, shrubs and grass the game drives are anything but enchanting. A big surprise is the tiger, the creature much persecuted is making its stand back here, other thrilling encounters are leopard, wild dog and sloth bear. Keep your eyes open for the giant and flying squirrels. 

Denwa 

For those with an eye for birds, the robust winged creatures will be a big surprise for birders coming here for the big cats. More than two hundred species of avian can be sighted here. Migration in winter fetches the bar headed geese in large flocks and other target species that can be seen is the Indian Skimmer at Denwa River!     
Denwa River
 Denwa River forms a natural boundary of the tiger reserve. Visitors have to cross over on a motor boat to the park. It is inundated throughout the year but the level can recede in summers. Those with a spotting scope will revel in avian discoveries. Plus the sight of marsh crocodile, turtles and otters add to the birding experience at STR.    

Pachmarhi Hill Resort 

The township is under the Cantt which mercifully protects it from rampant urbanisation as other hill stations have faced. Most of the wilderness is within the Satpura Tiger Reserve. Towering sandstone mountains clutter the holiday destination jagged edges, bare sandstone cliffs and dense canopies carve vivid formations mesmerizing the viewers. This is unique to Pachmarhi and many hills like Chauragarh and Dhoopgarh are named as per the impression they create. You can go wild with imagination as cliffs loom over.   

Dhoopgarh Highest Point in MP State
On the morning birding we come across tiger pugmarks on the way to Dhoopgarh, the highest point in Madhya Pradesh at 1352 meters MSL. The proximity to the township is startling, but with active conservation measures the big cats are gaining ground.  Wilderness can be encountered at Pachmarhi which anyway is excellent for bird watching, target species being Malabar Whistling Thrush. Take precaution
Tiger Footprints Pachmarhi
while birding since the movement of sloth bear and leopard is frequent in this hill station. 

Ancient Remains

Deep inside on hillock are two Shiva Temples built by the tribal at Zhinzhini. The visit takes place on safari and the sight of ancient civilization is as enthralling as that of a tiger. Built perhaps in the 9th or 10th AD or earlier they are now crumbling ruins, scattered around are idols and temple structures. Igneous rock formations abound at Satpura Reserve due to intense volcanic activity that took place during the tectonic plate movement.   

Carving in stone 
Tribal Shiva Temples 
The reserve has a core area of 1500 plus sq.km which encompasses Satpura, Churna and Pachmarhi forests to form a biosphere reserve called Satpura Biosphere Reserve. Teak dominates but it is present mostly in mixed forests while Sal can be encountered in an around the Pachmarhi regions. Night safari is possible at buffer area for which a permit is required. Interesting nocturnal species like palm civet, large Indian civet, small Indian civet,porcupine, ratel, leopard, sloth bear and the rusty spotted cat can be encountered with luck. 

Sehra Buffer Zone

There are around 40 tigers in the region and yes sighting does take place in the tourism zone besides that of plenty of other mammals. With active conservation measures the big cat species is sure to bounce back after a ravage of more than a century. Interesting species of small cats include the felines like rusty spotted cat, desert cat and the jungle cat. 

The Lodge at Madai 

Satpura
Soft strands break in through the huge crystal clear glass panel as I read a book on Satpura from the well stocked library. A warm cup of tea keeps me rejuvenated and cookies crumble inside refreshing me to no end. Naturalist Asim and Manna arrive to give me company, I am astounded by their knowledge and dedication. Thorough indulgence in luxury and adventure has been the highlight of this visit to STR. 

It is our last day at the lodge and an emotional one. The hospitality and service has been without blemish and the jungle rides have been deeply fulfilling. For a naturalist every visit to the pristine lands is a revelation of facts hidden deep in the folds of nature and the biology of the living. The  wonderful living creatures and the surrounding earthly elements. To yearn is to learn I tell everyone - knowledge is the key so discover.    

Monday, November 12, 2018

Who Shot The Tiger?


AVNI!

The gun silenced her. The deadly bloodthirsty weapon that is responsible for death of millions of wild animals. The weapon yielding Sahib stood proud after having killed Avni. He was the master of all he surveyed not the tiger! A non government actor did he have the legal powers to kill? If not, is this the way we wish to be governed? None of the gazetted could shoot??? More hunters will be born.

The deed has been done and precious human lives have been saved. But there emerges a question mark(?) - Our conservation ethos and policies that govern wildlife in India. Another fact emerges that our administrators are helpless whence mass agitation takes place for an event that requires deeper initiative and careful handling. Exigency could be unjustified.   

A few signatures, paperwork, administrative proceedings and the ground was cleared for the extermination. No court!No Judge!No protests! No recourse to her life! Animal!

It is all populist. It is for votes. No it is for saving precious human lives...there you have it kill the tiger. We will take care of the cubs later or let them perish.   

Did Avni deserve to die? 

Don't know the answer?

Well here is the clue. 

She was allegedly responsible for death of thirteen humans who had intruded into her land now usurped. She was intruding into land slated for development and was moving in between sensitive human habitats. 

With cubs in tow she was aiming to increase her lot and claim back the land where her ancestors once roamed free. 

It is tigers versus development! Was it a happening land...under development - highways, factories, cities, storehouses, markets, shops, restaurants and what not? The way to go! Usurp all the land in the country. We are the masters. 

She was an impediment to our way of life and of course our fast changing habitat filled with the suffocating warmth of carbon dioxide, rich particles and ever pervasive foul smell that we attribute to pollution, garbage, road shit and dense human settlements.         

In India the die has been cast long time back. It is development unhindered, unplanned and a ruthless march to economic progression. We the rulers of the Earth have defined a way of life no other life form can challenge or act as an impediment. 

Peace, justice, security, prosperity and development are not possible for us amidst marauding carnivores in vicinity. They should be shot. No Hearing! No Appeal! No Redress! After all tigers are animals not humans.

History!

The erstwhile British rulers were ruthless whence it came to exterminating the wild species in India designated as vermin. The hunters took guns they brought, and the Maharajahs, elites, sahibs and their satraps indulged in ruthless orgy all contributing to cleanse the Earth of vermin so that humans could plough and live in eternal peace. They were brutal, irrational, devoid of compassion and had no understanding of nature and the diversity upon which our lives are so dependent. 

We are worse!

We follow a creed that inculcates nature worship and teaches us the value and sanctity of all life forms and the precious elements. We live in the land of Vedas!

But we have acted worse! Why blame the masters! We have killed more animals, we have extensively ravaged forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains, waterways, river systems  and other habitats for our greed and we continue to do so. Ha! We have been comprehensive.  

In contemporary India we are denotifying protected areas, we are denuding forests if not by intent then by pure negligence and greed, we are dissecting forests for highways, granting lease for mining in remaining natural lands, even small pockets of wilderness are being allocated for construction. 

Why because we certainly do not care. In my hometown an institution came up on a patch of forest  with wildlife whence there was plenty of completely denuded land around. This is our state of planning. 

Let us understand one thing the large section of administrators and politicians are unaware regarding nature conservation and many care little for our wildlife. Do not expect much from governance to take care of remaining habitats in India. The inviolate protected areas are a must but the rot does not stem at that since there is plenty of wilderness all around the country and that has to be guarded with zeal and utmost sincerity.  

We do not want the whole country to turn into urbanity comprising of highways, malls, smoke emitting factories and unplanned settlements. All this should constitute a small portion and greater expanse should be that of natural lands untouched by humanity. Stay away from our forests, rivers, deserts, mountains and grasslands, Do not kill our animals not a tiger and not even a deer. 

Tiger Conservation

Incidences like the extermination of AVANI are a cause of consternation. Are we moving in the right direction in order to save the big cat from extinction? Tiger conservation is a comprehensive program and it is a National imperative.  

As a Nation are we capable of saving the tiger? We may not lack the ability and resources but do we have the will and concern? For example can we allocate more inviolate land to the tigers and other life forms for their survival or let them suffocate in fractured land.     

Will we keep losing AVNI time and again! Saving the tiger is a matter of National Pride for all of us and we should overcome.  
Tiger - Teerath Singh

Monday, November 5, 2018

Killing The Tigers Are We Living in Stone Age?

Indian Tiger


News

The recent incidences of killings of tigers and leopards at the hand of humans is alarming and is suggestive of extreme loathing of these earthly creature. It is also suggestive of continued intrusion into wilderness - that which remains.  

Why? 

For those living in the periphery of forests an incidence of man eating could be unnerving, but the chain extends much longer for there are vested interests that are keen to exploit the situation.   

Let us be honest, in case of man eating menace the locals are the target and an extreme fear and insecurity develops. When humans are killed the sentiments rise and the immediate instinct/solution is to exterminate. This in spite of technological means that could avoid killing.    

From the killing of the tigress Avni it is evident that we do not resort to measures to stem the rot at the very beginning in order to avoid human deaths including that of the predator. Satkosia could be another impending disaster. We have to stress more on the proactive methodologies and safeguards to prevent the big cats turning aberrant. I think our institutes are doing commendable research and there is hope.  

For the politicians, bureaucrats and local leaders - the singularly powerful people - elimination of problem animal is the only solution...for them it is also a populist goal. These are the people who can pressurise the local administration into an unholy act? 

But the question remains are we in India willing to do more than just providing physical protection to the cats in protected areas? The animal survives in non designated areas as well, and the stray population is as important for the gene pool and conservation. 

Tiger conservation is a comprehensive act and it involves the whole nation. Frequent incidence of man animal conflicts indicate that there are still grey areas that remain unplugged in species management in India. The lacunae is further compounded by utter disregard towards conservation among some of the ruling coteries, bureaucrats and NGOs.  The public besides few are equally to blame for being unconcerned and ill informed. 

We live in Human First Era!

A developmental imperative accords low priority to conservation which could prove disastrous in the long run. We are destroying remaining natural habitats helter skelter in our zeal to develop commercially, urbanize and create unnatural wealth by destroying the crucial natural resources. Rabid development is not the solution for myriads of problems facing the society, and sooner or later there should be a paradigm shift. Will it be too late then?     

Man eating is not an aberration as most people believe, it could be a natural recourse in absence of prey base, since long time back we could have been a part of the food chain. An accidental encounter, stress, self defense whence in proximity all could lead to man killing and could initiate consumption of humans. The repeated act leads to the big cat being termed as man eater. 

The reason for aberrant behaviour as we term is the scarcity of prey base, destruction of its home and intrusion into its domain. All this is rampant in the present circumstances.    

It is circumstances that have pulled the species apart and we no longer are deemed as prey. But it is always in the capacity of the predator to kill us. That it does not leads to justification that the species kills only for food. Energy in the wild is crucial and a specie cannot indulge in wanton killing. The fear of humans also contribute to the big cats maintaining distance from. All life forms on Earth fear us since we have amply demonstrated our ability to kill wantonly.   

Much more is required to understand the beasts that stalk the Earth. Tigers, lions, leopards are predators along with the lesser carnivores. Their role is to limit the populations of herbivores and maintain an equilibrium. Although hunting and consumption could have been an act of natural selection or an opportunistic food preference. The specie is at the top of the food chain in most ecosystems and is crucial in maintaining the delicate balances. 

The forests which nurture the predators for example are the source of food, water security and fresh air. None of the elements that constitute this ecosystem can be removed or damaged beyond repair if the productivity has to be continued. This means the tiger is as valuable as any element in the crucial web of life that shapes our environment.    

Selfish Humans!

Humans are a selfish breed albeit they have been nurtured by the same ecosystem that was shared by other life forms. We were once part of the same food chain that now works in the remaining ecosystems all over the Earth. We constituted the tiger's prey base, and perhaps humans targeted the predators as competitors. The stone age could reveal a saga of bitter animosity between the carnivore and homo sapiens if we could peek back. But nature works in such a manner that there is no room for wanton killing.   

Saving the tiger is crucial for our environment as well as for our survival. Species extinction is like a catastrophe which we also call an Armageddon.   

The Tiger is a matter of National Pride for a diverse India. Save It! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

TOFT Awards-2018 - Celebration Visuals

Tourism for Tigers - TOFT Tigers India & Nepal 

To be at the residence of British High Commissioner was simply exhilarating and speeches by Dr. Raghu Chundawat, Bittu Sehgal (Sanctuary Asia) and Julian Matthews Chairman TOFT doubled up the pleasure. The Award Ceremony began with  brief note by the organisers followed by the keynote speakers. Informative and meaningful the speakers were right up to the mark.  

Award Ceremonies are fun filled occasions but with erudite speakers they are immensely informative. The well organised function was graced by His Excellency British High Commissioner Sir Dominic & Lady Louise Asquith members of the High Commission and TOFT staff members.  

The award distribution was thrilling as winners and runners up were announced. The evening culminated in fine dinner and meeting of the guests. 

Visuals TOFT Ceremony 
Audience
TOFT Ceremony
Runners Up With Chairman TOFT 
Winners

British High Commissioner - Lady - Julian 


Julian Matthews + Winner Jatayu Restaurant 

Guests + Richard Morris

Bittu Sahgal & Julian Matthews 



Dr.Chundawat
Bittu Sahgal - Keynote Speaker 

Chairman TOFT India & Nepal 

Awards & Winners 

FD Kanha + Winner 

Ramkali Dhurwey Winner 



Podium & Sitting TOFT Award Ceremony


Winner

Award & Winner 

Lodge Naturalist Winner


Uday Patel - Runner Up Lodge Naturalist 
Award Presentation 
The function was attended by two hundred happy guests and was well organised at the residence of British High Commissioner in New Delhi. The aim of Award presentation was to encourage conservation, responsible practices and the participants from various backgrounds as well. 

TOFT Tigers is at the forefront of Tourism and Conservation in India promoting ethical and responsible practices. Members are responsible resorts owners and tour operators Worldwide. 

More Info:

 www.facebook.com/toft.india/

https://twitter.com/TofTigersIndia



Tiger Conservation: It is Development That Counts

Environmental Overview

India is on the threshold of becoming an economically developed Nation on Earth. One among the few who rule the Earth. The sordid saga of reckless developmental spree of those already at the helm is narrated without mentioning the large scale damage done to the local environment and plundering of crucial natural resources embedded in Mother Earth.

Development in terms of economy and infrastructure are the yardstick which denotes success of ruling dispensations in India and elsewhere. In the country the narrative is on upswing with most of the discussion centred around growth and development.

Do we state the growth indices without keeping an eye on the amount of destruction we are causing? A highly developed India could burden the coming generations to clear the environmental debt that we leave in the wake. Should not we be concerned? 

Development is imperative but not without paying heed to environmental concerns some of which may appear trivial but could have a major negative impact in time to come.

In India, the worry lies in the large scale destruction of our remaining natural lands and ill conceived usage of  our natural resources.

India is a signatory to Convention of Biological Diversity a multilateral treaty for preservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of resources and sharing of genetic resources in a fair and equitable manner.

Another landmark that was legislated in the year nineteen seventy two was the Wildlife Protection Act. The creation of protected areas was within the purview of this Act...and so a home and protection was accorded to all life forms in the country. The 1988 Forest Policy lays strong focus on conservation while other acts for Environment Protection  was passed in the year 1986 and subsequently the Foreign Act 1992 for regulating International trade in biodiversity elements.   

The country has a number of regulatory bodies that  govern actions that oversee future implications of ongoing or planned processes.  The Hon. Supreme Court of India plays an active role on environmental issues by presenting its own interpretation and hence through its directives it influences policies that contain environmental concerns. The aim of the highest courts through intervention in governance area is to redress the failures of Government and other regulatory bodies in discharging their Constitutional and statutory obligations. There are proponents and critics as regards Hon. Supreme Courts interjection in these matters but albeit this is an entirely different matter the courts interjection is seen in positive light by many.   

It should be noted that a large number of PILs regarding myriads of environmental issues has been filed by Ngos and individuals thus exhibiting faith in the judiciary as whole

The Government Ministry MOEF

Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change is pan India mother of all institutions that is concerned with environment, forests and climate change. It is prime body that issues statutory order in case of environmental clearances hence is the most important element that could impact the environment and associated wilderness in multiple ways. 

It is responsible for providing clearances and impact assessment, as well it governs the National Parks of India. It overseas forest policies and programmes implementation in the country. It is also a nodal agency for many International conventions and programmes affecting India.  The Ministry has multifarious roles but the crux of bringing this into picture is that it can bar or give a goahead to controversial exploitation of resources through mining, exploitation and development of remaining natural lands and the related issues.

In short MOEF a ministerial body is the face of the ruling dispensation, obviously through MOEF it can accord direction to actions concerning our environment conservation strategy.

Our Concerns & The Tiger & Human Centric Policies 

The concern that dominates the conservation circles is quick appraisal of permission granted for mining, land acquisition for developmental projects, dissecting habitats like forests for roads and other related projects.

This is the crux of conservation practices in India wherein policies that disregards environmental concerns can be hastened through to promote perceived developmental and infrastructure benefits. On many instances whence development projects are seen as imperative clearances are granted without a second thought. Concerns for habitats and the consecutive impact on prevailing ecosystems takes a back set.     

It is required that governance should be very cautious towards activities that degrade crucial habitats and eventually are environmental hazards. These habitats support ecosystems or complex web of life that of the critically endangered species Bengal tiger as well as other life forms struggling to survive in the country. This also means the imperatives are looked into from the perspective of the highest offices in India. For developmental projects alternatives present should come into picture.

Shortage of space for endangered species like tigers is obvious and land use pattern should be looked into. A large chunk of forest, grassland and river habitats have been lost to reckless venture into agriculture in earlier times. A more productive agrarian practices should be developed and encouraged which utilise less expanses of land. This also applies to industrial practices and rapidly expanding settlements especially in our urban areas.   

It is quite a matter of concern that increase in tiger population would also require increase in inviolate protected areas if we have to preserve the animal that is a matter of our National Pride. This calls for equitable and fair translocation policies. Since certain areas will be required to clear of human habitations in order to reduce man animal conflict (elephant migration) and accord home to locally endangered species. (Similarly the Lion should be trans-located to suitable habitats which have been developed in recent times.)

Tiger: Pic Uday Patel 
The Great Mahatma 

When Mahatma Gandhi conceived of Ram Rajya he was not being rightist or denying secular credentials as many construed.  With emphasis on non violence and cottage industry he certainly had an approach towards development that would be been highly concerned about the environment issues. That would have meant a paradigm shift from the Western Style of development we are recklessly emulating.

Perhaps he could have found answers to our woes? He was down to Earth, simple and would not have been influenced by vote banks of India. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

TOFT Tiger 2018 An Award That Matters

TOFT Tiger Lodge Naturalist Award 2018
Runner Up - Uday Patel

RUNNER UP: Uday Patel, Courtyard House, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh

Uday Patel, Courtyard House, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh
Uday Patel has been an active naturalist and writer for more than two decades. His knowledge of birds and mammals is second to none in Kanha; he is also a superb wildlife tracker. In his spare time and during the monsoons, he motivates school and college students to conserve nature through lectures and nature trips. He is also associated with the forest department in Jabalpur and with the CFN Society.
It is exhilarating to receive award from TOFT Tigers based in UK. The award function was superbly organised with speeches given by

Bittu Sahgal - Conservationist and Publisher of Sanctuary Asia Magazine
Dr. Chandawat - Conservationist, Tiger Specialist
Julian Matthews - Chairman TOFT


I work as Naturalist at Courtyard House Kanha in Central India.
My mail: pateluday90@hotmail.com
My Mail
Mobile: 9755089323

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Dissecting The Tiger Reserves

The news is infrequent but the consequences are deadly. Already large part of our land mass has been stripped of all natural ingredients and more is being subjected to. Politician and bureaucrats do not accord consideration to land which has been deprived of an ecosystem bearing or is too difficult to be comprehended as of ecological importance.

The dispensation exhibits limits of ill planned approach, lack of logical thinking, no care for our environment and declining wilderness. Economic upliftment is an urgency often aimed without proper planning and with total disregards to remaining natural landscapes. Populist governance is a bane of democracies all over the World not only in India, otherwise a time tested meritorious system of governance.    

Large ecosystems under ambit of conservation and right under the public eyes do survive the rot, but this is not true entirely. Dissecting our tiger reserves, National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries under the road and rail development programmes is considered as prerequisite since that is imperative to our goal of economic development. 

During the Raj inaccessible lands were ripped apart by road and rail construction leaving the forest lands open for depredation and its wildlife for easy culling. The rulers had only one aim in mind and that was to generate revenue from an usurped Nation. But the land in question belongs to us and certainly does not justify emulation of policies of our erstwhile masters. But that is what we are doing since independence. 

After all it is just a strip. Is this well under the limitation of sustained development in green corridors? The impact of decimation of such strips of forest lands is disastrous, but it does not appear to be so whence quantum of land destroyed is considered inconsequential, and the imbalance and disturbance caused is considered negligible. Whence the conservationist cry hoarse this is equated with the parable cry wolf!     

The fact is even ill planned minimalist approach to urban development in green corridors or protected areas can augur fatal consequences and in some circumstances that negative impact may be futuristic. For example we have seen the impact of massive deforestation resulting in global warming in recent times. 
Teerath Singh 
Plans are often accepted and implemented by managers and bureaucrats with no insight into how ecosystems or natural lands work. They have no idea about the biodiversity prevailing in those places. They have no knowledge about the sensitivities of other life forms and their survival. Technical and economic viability are the key consideration taken into account, and yes the beneficial political fall out could favor the ruling dispensation. In the hurry to implement the projects wildlife mitigation are not taken into account while executing the projects or at times they are never placed on the information table for general public, NGOs and conservationists.  

Teerath Singh


We cannot continue to see development through a single prism, a multifarious approach towards management of our lands should be accorded priority keeping in mind the health of the environment as whole. Hence before we lose our natural lands a more circumspect policy should be in place which would mitigate conflict between wildlife managers, NGOs and conservationist. This would be a sign of less damage  being done to our natural lands if not entirely - under the developmental goals.  

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Nauradehi WLS A Lost Paradise

Vanishing Ecosystems

Can humans take over any piece of land in India to acquiesce for our developmental and urbanisation goals? Will highest courts in India and the ministries stamp their foot down to see that development should not hinder? 

Should we repeat after few decades because development is not contemporary anymore and ravage and ravage till all other lifeforms cannot survive except some in zoos, herbariums and botanical gardens? 

Are we going to see the naked face of humanity and contend with evolving medical resources, artificial environmental dromes, and organised manicured floral landscapes?    

Yes humanity will survive till armageddon, and few will escape to another kingdom in celestial oblivion to continue to ravage again and again till the whole Universe is lost. 

Nauradehi Tigers

It started with Nauradehi? Barely aged eleven, I was witness to a huge male tiger being skinned right at my porch. My first tiger sighting was a dead one. I could see the cobbler assiduously collect fat. "This is good for joint pains," he explained to us without any expression on his countenance.

The hero stood around nearby devouring accolades. "I shot him sitting on a bullock cart - point blank. Could see his face lit up by the moonlight, and I aimed right without fear and trepidation." 

He was from Mumbai a rich man he came every year for hunt to Jabalpur along with the entourage of the Sahibs. They shot sloth bears, sambars and spotted deer from amongst a fast depleting lot of wild species in India. For a paltry sum in rupees as my father many a times lamented.
Tiger By Uday Patel 

The accolades continued. Brilliant! I too was admiring the brave hunter. He got rid of the vermin - a blood thirsty beast. It took me a decade to realise what grave error was being committed. This was in independent India, the Sahibs had left, the barbaric Mughal invaders had been vanquished long time back. This was us the Brown Sahibs. We took over immaculately from where they had left. 


Fox
The plunder was unprecedented, forests and grasslands were being destroyed at rapid pace. The burgeoning population needed food to be cultivated in thousands of acres, and there was no check on plunder and ravage of our ever depleting ecosystems.     

There were no tigers left in Nauradehi and the surrounding regions. All the remaining big cats had been shot dead not only by the Sahibs but by anyone with a clout. Today Nauradehi the kingdom of cats is devoid. No tiger no leopard. The wolf rules the roost! It is the indicator species.   


Waterbody


A few years back a lady DFO had come across a tigress with cubs and recently a tigress was found dead because of old age. It is conjectured that big cats somehow cross over to Nauradehi from nearby Panna Tiger Reserve at distance of 250+ km. Well it is anybody's guess since there are inaccessible quarters in this forest itself for animals to hide and breed. 


Recently a pair of tigers were relocated here in order to kick start the process. If the predators breed successfully the cats may permanently find a heaven in Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary again. Situated near Jabalpur City in MP the distance is about 100 km. The area is about 1000 + sq.km and comprises of mixed forests and pockets of grassland ecosystem. Undulating landscape actually encompasses more than 5000 sq.km of tiger habitat but the crown cover may not be adequate. 



Bengal Tiger - Uday Patel 


Fauna & Cheetah Relocation 


Some of the key fauna found here is the nilgai, chital, sambar, barking and four horned deer, black buck, tiger, sloth bear and small predators jackal, fox, civet, porcupine and mongoose. The leopard is conspicuous by its absence but sooner or later will find place here thanks to the protection offered. There is proposal to shift African cheetahs to grasslands of Nauradehi but this at present is only in the news.


Crocodiles and smooth Indian otter, turtles and tortoise can be found in the river systems and the water bodies of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is a heaven for avian species and delightful prospects await the birders. No extensive survey has been carried out but the species number may be more than 200. 





There are more than 60 villages in and around the WLS and plans are to shift them outside...some of them have already been shifted as per the news. Relocation is badly desired here since humans have occupied space reserved for other life forms and some are a big nuisance. Albeit under control, profilage, wood logging is still underway. I hope relocation will solve the problem to a great extent. Lot of constructive work has been done by the forest department here.


For those interested in visiting Nauradehi can contact DFO office at Sagar at a distance of eighty km. There is a permit required for wildlife safaris for a charge. One has to organise the trip usually from Jabalpur airport or railhead. An open jeep is the best recourse on the rough jungle roads. There are two rest houses for accommodation but need prior reservation. It is good to carry lot of provisions as well. 



Marsh Crocodile

Early morning and evening drives could be planned from Jabalpur in Central India. The jungle is worth exploring hence organise at least two or three safaris. Jabalpur is a conduit for other tiger reserves like Kanha and Bandhavgarh hence Nauradehi could be included in a circuit. Jabalpur accommodation is very good so there should be no problem for a stay here.



Tiger Relocated at Nauradehi - News