Activists, officials slug it out at Project Tiger meet
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Activist Narain will head group to review management of reserves
New Delhi: In an unexpected twist, environmental activist Sunita Narain will chair a group tasked with reviewing the management of tiger reserves in the country. The decision came from the Prime Minister’s office late Wednesday evening.
It’s mandate is to do the job in three months. On the panel are wildlife experts Valmik Thapar, H S Panwar, Madhav Gadgil and Samar Singh, all members of the PM- chaired National Board for Wildlife.
It is expected to suggest measures to strengthen conservation and improve the methodology of tiger counting and forecasting. It is expected to recommend measures for transparent professional audit of wildlife parks, incentivising local communities for tiger conservation and forest staff in sanctuaries and national parks. It’s agenda also includes an effective human resource plan for tiger conservation and wildlife managers.
This comes a day after the Project Tiger steering committee meeting saw wildlife activists describe the present crisis as the “worst ever’’.
Rubbing salt into a festering wound was a “last-ditch’’ savethe-tiger appeal, directly to the PM from the secretary-general of CITES—the international Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This is something the CITES secretariat does not usually do.
When the steering committee met here on Tuesday over nearly three hours, wildlife activists insisted a thousand men be deployed in 10 reserves, at least half of them armed, to prevent poaching during the monsoon.
The guiding body for the flagship project was meeting after a two-year gap, which left activists furious and officials presenting a sanitised version on the discussion and decisions. There was not much the two sides agreed on.
Alert at Corbett Park against poachers
Dehra Dun: Scared that its tigers will now start disappearing, Corbett wardens are intensely patrolling the park’s riverbeds and watering holes, spots which they think are the easiest places for prey hunters.
A parkwide alert has been sounded, said Corbett Tiger Reserve director Digvijay Singh Khati, responsible for the lives of 140 tigers. He said security in the park, one of the few Project Tiger success stories, was reviewed last month following the intense publicity been given to India’s dwindling cat population.
Khati said patrolling in the reserve, especially in the area adjacent to Bijnore in Uttar Pradesh, had also been stepped up.
Riverbeds are the easiest way for poachers to sneak into the park. “We check the riverbeds for prints of shoes different from the hunter boots used by foresters,’’ Khati said. Jeeps, motorcycles and wireless sets given to the reserve recently by WWF were coming handy for the intensified patrolling, he added.
He said the Sonanadi sanctuary area inhabited by Gujjars was also being watched closely. “We are keeping a watch to see whether outsiders are coming into their ‘deras’ (homes),’’ he said. Waterholes in all the areas, especially the buffer zone, were being constantly checked, he said. “These can be easily poisoned and we are alert about this,’’ he said. The information network in the villages surrounding the Corbett was also being strengthened. TNN
Fire erupts in two Gujarat sanctuaries
Ahmedabad: Fire broke out at two sanctuaries in Gujarat — one at Gir Sanctuary, famous for Asiatic Lions, in Junagadh district and another in Sundarpura Sanctuary, which houses Black Bucks, located about 15 kms from Vadodara.
There were no immediate reports of casualty either at the Gir or in Sundarpura. PTI