Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism organises film show on the Tiger Habitat of Central India to mark International Tiger Day

Newsroom24x7 Network

Senior Journalist Lalit Shastri addressing a special programme at Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication to mark the International Tiger Day in Bhopal on 29 July 2019

Bhopal: Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication organized a special screening of “The Tiger-Indicator of Healthy Forest Ecosystem” in collaboration with CREW (Crusade for Revival of Environment and Wildlife) to mark the International Tiger Day on Monday.

In his keynote address, senior journalist and wildlife conservationist Lalit Shastri said that we are confronted with the tiger crisis due to factors like increasing population, shrinking forest cover, poaching encroachment and increasing demand for natural resources. He said that media coverage on matters relating to environment and wildlife has forced successive governments to take necessary and effective steps for conservation of forests and protection of tigers and other wildlife species.

Most of the footage used for making the documentary “The Tiger: Indicator of Healthy Forest Ecosystem”, produced by Madhya Pradesh State Biodiversity Board, has been shot by Shastri over a 20-year period. In this documentary, he has vividly captured various aspects relating to wildlife, river system and forests.

Seated left to right: Gandhian thinker, journalist and educationist, Dr. Arun Tripathi, Senior Journalist Lalit Shastri and MCU Rector Dr Shrikant Singh

Speaking on this occasion, Gandhian thinker, journalist and educationist, Dr. Arun Tripathi said that Earth is not only for human beings but for all creatures. He cited a verse from the Mahabharata, and said, “The tiger, out of the woods, is easily slain; the wood also, that is without a tiger, is easily cut down. Therefore, it is the tiger that protects the forest and the forest that shelters the tiger”.

निर्वनॊ वध्यते वयाघ्रॊ निर्व्याघ्रं छिद्यते वनम
तस्माद वयाघ्रॊ वनं रक्षेद वनं वयाघ्रं च पालयेत।।

Mahabharatha, Udyoga-parvam, Chapter 29

In India, forest dwellers protect and preserve our forest wealth, whereas outsiders were hunting the tigers, Dr. Tripathi said adding it is only due to greater awareness and social consciousness that we have been able to save the tigers.

In his concluding remarks, University Rector Dr Srikant Singh, reiterated commitment for Tiger conservation and said that human beings and forests have a symbiotic relationship and it is our duty to save the ecosystem.

The program was organized by the University’s Film Club in association CREW (Crusade for Revival of Environment and Wildlife), a not-for-profit organization devoted to wildlife conservation. The program was conducted by Dharmendra Kamaria.

Sathiyan’s heroics  give Delhi golden win in UTT

Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran played out of his skin to seal a golden victory for Dabang Delhi as the hosts overpowered spirited U Mumba 9-6 in the Ultimate Table Tennis here last evening..

World No. 24 and the highest ranked men’s player in the tournament, first paired up with Romania’s Bernadette Szocs to clinch two points in the Mixed Doubles before overcoming a valiant Manav Thakkar in the reverse Men’s Singles 3-0.

Sathiyan needed to invoke golden points to get the better of the young Manav in the first two sets. The last set came much easier, sealing the tie for them in the fourth clash itself as they had already taken 3 points in their earlier matches, with their Swedish import Jon Persson cornering 2 points and Szocs 1. In the fifth and final game, U Mumba’s Sutirtha Mukherjee beat Krittwika Sinha Roy 2-1 to reduce the overall deficit.

The Delhi-Mumbai encounter, that saw a plethora of golden points, began with the two teams trading the first wins. World No. 12 Doo Hoi Kem handed the Mumbai team the initial advantage, defeating Szocs in a thrilling Women’s Singles encounter.

But Hong Kong’s Doo had to battle for every point against the diminutive Szocs (World No. 19) in a battle of equals. The first two games were locked 10-10, and Doo’s experience came to her rescue as she pounced on the golden points.

Szocs, however, reduced the deficit in the third game, winning it 11-8.

Dabang’s march to victory began in the next game, with Jon Persson also relying on two golden points to overcome young Kirill Gerassimenko from Kazakhastan. He lost the last game to make it 3-3 overall.

The Mixed Doubles began on an ominous note for Mumba, with Sathiyan-Bernadette racing away to a 11-2 win in the first set. Manav-Hoi Kem, however, discovered their mojo midway through the next set, clambering from 4-7 to make it 7-all. They conceded only one more point after that to make it 1-1.

Sathiyan-Bernadette sprinted away to 7-4 once again, only to find Manav-Hoi Kem clawing back to 7-7. But this time the Delhi duo handled the pressure better to win it 11-8, giving them a slight 5-4 advantage.

The reverse Men’s Singles saw two of country’s best players, provide a stunning spectacle. The game literally went neck and neck, apart from the time when Manav grabbed 3 straight points from 2-2. Eventually, Sathiyan took the set on golden point.

The second set too was equally close, this time none of them managing to ever take more than a single point lead. Sathiyan saved two golden points to score a memorable win.

Results;

Women’s Singles – Bernadette Szocs lost to Doo Hoi Kem 1-2 (10-11, 10-11, 11-8)
Men’s Singles – Jon Persson bt Kirill Gerassimenko 2-1 (11-10, 11-10, 7-11)
Mixed Doubles – Sathiyan G. & Bernadette Szocs bt Manav Thakkar & Doo Hoi Kem 2-1 (11-2, 8-11, 11-8)
Men’s Doubles – Sathiyan G. bt Manav Thakkar 3-0 (11-10, 11-10, 11-7)
Women’s Singles – Krittwika Sinha Roy lost to Sutirtha Mukherjee 1-2 (4-11, 10-11, 11-8)

HSB

Count of Tigers in India rises to 2967; Madhya Pradesh roars the loudest

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi:  Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi greeted the citizens by announcing that the count of tigers in India has risen to 2967 in the year 2018.

The Prime Minister marked the International Tiger Day by releasing the results of the fourth cycle of All India Tiger Estimation – 2018, here on Monday 29 July 2019.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister described this as a historic achievement for India, and reaffirmed India’s commitment towards protecting the tiger. The Prime Minister appreciated the speed and dedication with which various stakeholders worked to achieve this. The Prime Minister said that with almost 3000 tigers, India is today among the biggest and most secure habitats.

Narendra Modi asserted India will build more homes for our citizens and that at the same time create quality habitats for animals. This balance is what will contribute to a strong and inclusive India, the Prime Minister asserted.

The PM said that in the last five years, while work has proceeded at a fast pace for next-generation infrastructure, the forest cover in the country has also grown. There has also been an increase in the “protected areas.” In 2014, there were 692 protected areas, which increased to more than 860 in 2019. The “Community Reserves” have also grown from 43, in 2014, to more than 100 now.

The 33% rise in tiger numbers is the highest ever recorded between cycles which stood at 21% between 2006 to 2010 and 30% between 2010 and 2014. The rise in tiger numbers was in conformity with the average annual growth rate of tigers since 2006.

Tiger State

Madhya Pradesh has regained the status of “Tiger State” by registering the highest number of tigers – 526, closely followed by Karnataka – 524, with Uttarakhand at number 3 with 442 tigers.

It is a moment of pride for the country as it achieved its commitment to the St.Petersburg Declaration, of doubling Tiger population, much in advance to the 2022 deadline.

Chhatisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in their tiger numbers while tiger’s numbers in Odisha remained constant. All other States witnessed a positive trend. Viewed at the landscape level, all 5 landscapes showed an increase with the Central Indian landscape recording the highest increment.

India has been estimating its tigers using a double sampling approach involving a mark-recapture framework to ascertain tiger numbers, which is being improved over time keeping in view advancements made in science.

During the 4th cycle, in sync with Government of India’s “Digital India” initiative, data was collected using an Android based application- M-STrIPES ( Monitoring system for Tigers’ Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) and analyzed on the applications’ desktop module. The, application greatly eased out analysis of a large quantum of data that was collected over nearly 15 months involving survey of 381,400 sq.km. of forested habitats, 522,996 km of walk by State Forest officials, laying of 317,958 habitat plots, totaling a human investment of 5, 93,882 man days. Besides cameras were placed in 26760 locations which gave a total of 35 million images of wildlife including 76523 images of tigers. Segregation of these images was possible in a short time because of use of artificial intelligence software.

The intensity with which the exercise was conducted resulted in 83 % of the tiger population being captured wherein 2461 individual tiger photographs were obtained and only 17 % of the tiger population was estimated using robust spatially explicit capture recapture statistical models.

The Prime Minister also released report of the 4th cycle of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves (MEETR) with Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh scoring the highest and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu showing the highest increment in management since the last cycle for which the latter was awarded. 42% of the tiger reserves fell in the Very Good management category, 34% in the Good category, 24% in the Fair category while no tiger reserve was rated Poor.

Projecting tiger reserve as engines of growth was highlighted in the report released on Economic Valuation of Tiger Reserves which was jointly published by the NTCA and the Indian Institute of Forest Management Bhopal. The Prime Minister also released trailer of the documentary titled “Counting Tigers” to be aired worldwide on August 7.

In conclusion, the Prime Minister called for even greater efforts, towards Tiger Conservation.

Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javdekar, the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Babul Supriyo; and Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change C.K. Mishra were present on the occasion.

Tiger and the issue of forest conservation, wildlife protection and ecological stability

Statement by CREW¹ on World Tiger Day

Today the magnificent tiger occupies a precarious and vulnerable position in the biotic pyramid. It is a symbol of the delicate symbiotic relationship between different parts of the ecosystem. The tiger population and its well being can be seen as the most important indicator of the health of the ecosystem and a measure of our success as stewards of earth and nature.

We should not lose track of the importance of each and every link in the vital ecological chain because once the chain gets broken, it is bound to trigger grave after-effects. The unfortunate part of the Tiger story is that the Trustees of nature – those holding executive authority – invariably end up extending lip service when it comes to protecting the ecological chain. The ground reality is rather dismal since the politicians and those responsible for protecting the forests and wildlife more often than not end up turning a Nelson’s eye or they even at times become part of the whole nexus engaged in looting the forests and other natural resources.

Our forest cover – more particularly in the Indian context the Tiger habitat – has been shrinking at an alarming pace. The human pressure on forests is immense due to rapidly increasing population. The situation gets aggravated by the unhindered destruction of green cover by the timber mafia, encroachers as well as large-scale mining activity, grazing and the minor forest produce and firewood collection exercise.

The rapid pace at which the green cover has shrunk in Madhya Pradesh since Independence is a matter of serious concern. If things are allowed to drift, the situation might become irreversible in future.

Disintegration & destruction of Habitat

निर्वनॊ वध्यते वयाघ्रॊ निर्व्याघ्रं छिद्यते वनम
तस्माद वयाघ्रॊ वनं रक्षेद वनं वयाघ्रं च पालयेत

The tiger, out of the woods, is easily slain; the wood also, that is without a tiger, is easily cut down. Therefore, it is the tiger that protects the forest and the forest that shelters the tiger.

Mahabharatha, Udyoga-parvam, Chapter 29

The basic issue confronting us today is how to halt the rate of destruction and disintegration of habitat, green cover, and ecological systems. The biggest problem is linked to the firewood and timber requirements of the ever-increasing human population from the ever-dwindling forests.

Only by addressing these issues on priority, the phenomenon of Global warming would get arrested, the ozone layer would he protected, there would be less harmful radiation and the Earth would become a better place for the coming generations.

Forest and wildlife experts share the view and have been expressing concern over a long period regarding threats to the tiger habitat, which is shrinking and declining at a rapid pace. They are constantly emphasising the need for introspection to review the outcome of what has been done in the last two or three decades for protection of tigers and want to go for a correction course before it is too late.

Policy for comprehensive landscape management

The Satpura landscape in the North and South of the Narmada River—starting from Anuppur district in eastern Madhya Pradesh and stretching across Dindori, Mandla, Balaghat, Hoshangabad, parts of Narsinghpur, and Sehore—has three magnificent Tiger Reserves. They are Kanha, Pench and the Satpura National Park.

The Satpura landscape is witnessing all kinds of fragmentation and this is having an adverse impact on the tiger territory. In fact, the growing population and developmental activities are having an adverse impact on the forests of central India.

An analysis of the State of Forest Report regularly brought out by the Forest Survey of India, would show that every passing report is a reminder that our forest resources are going down on each and every count – whether we talk of growing stock, density, site quality, distribution of age, current annual increment, mean annual increment, status of regeneration and susceptibility to biotic pressure. The situation gets compounded by population which is exploding at an exponential rate.

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

There are 8000 forest beats in Madhya Pradesh and 20 per cent of these are positive for occurrence of tigers. For protection of tigers, the entry and exit in National Parks and Sanctuaries should be regulated and the movement inside the Protected Areas should be minimised because it is difficult to differentiate between a genuine resident and a criminal inside a protected area. Even tourism has to be restricted on the basis of the carrying capacity of PAs because these are meant for wildlife protection and tourism is incidental. Tourism cannot be the prime reason for management of protected areas.

The concerns and threats notwisthstanding, the habitat of central India is still very good for the perpetual survival of tigers in this subcontinent. At the same time,increasing biotic pressure is an issue that has to be kept in focus since human pressure vis-a-vis the growing demand for natural resources has put a question mark on the survival of tigers.
The population density 20 years ago was about 140 persons per square kilometre in central India. Now it has increased to more than 180 persons per sq. Km.

Increasing poaching activity because of the international mafia is also hreatening the survival of tigers. The local Pardhi community, whose technical knowhow is excellent with respect to wildlife craft, is being used by the mafia engaged in the illegal trade of tiger body parts. One of the important action points should be to wean away the Pardhis from this mafia.

Forest Rights Act

With the enactment of the Forest Rights Act [The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006], about 1.91 crore Acres of forest land has been distributed among the Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers. According to the Yield Table each Acre of forest land had about 35 to 40 trees, depending upon the Site Quality.

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA) and Constitutional provisions

The WLPA principal Act was enacted in 1972 and amended 6 times in 1983, 1986, 1991, 1993, 2003 and 2006. The Wildlife Amendment Bill, 2013 was introduced in Parliament, but it lapsed in 2014.

The WLPA is a central Act and have over-ridding effect on all state Acts. The Article-251 and 254 of the Constitution provides that State Assemblies and State Governments cannot take any decision contradicting Central Acts, including Indian Forest Act,1927; Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972 and Forest Conservation Act,1980. If they take any decision in contravention of Central Acts, such decisions would become null and void ab initio.

India is signatory to 13 international conventions like CITES, Ramsar Convention etc. But domestic law of WLPA is still silent on implementation of international conventions. The WLPA enacted as regulatory statute but now has become prohibitory in nature.

Also, the Wildlife Protection Rules, 1974 still provides for shooting blocks, licence for killing wildlife etc.

After transfer of the subjects of “forests and wildlife” vide the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act, 1976; the State Governments are hot having Sovereign powers on these subjects.

Chief Wildlife Warden

The wildlife conservation revolves around the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW). The CWLW is appointed under Section 4 of the WLPA. The CWLW has been empowered with wide ranging and well-defined powers, duties and responsibilities.

Given the mandate under the law of the land, the CWLW must be well-versed with two specialised functional areas – wildlife law and technical wildlife knowledge and competence for technical management of species and the habitat covering Ethology of Animal Behaviour, Wildlife Ecology, Limnology and Marine Biology, Genetics and Breeding Techniques, Evolution including Migration and Dispersal of species, Wildlife Physiology, Cell Biology, Serology, Forensic Biology, Population Pyramid Studies, Landscape planning to cope-up porosity and fragmentation, undetstanding of Zone of Influence, knowledge of Animal Classification to increase understanding of WLPA.

That CWLWs are empowered under Section 29 of WLPA to take cognizance of the destruction of wildlife habitat and regulate the inflow/outflow of water into and outflow to PAs.

The Section-27 and 28 provides for regulation of entry, registration of arm licences and innoculation of cattles to ward off diseases.

The Section-58A to 58Y provides for constitution of “Confiscation Tribunal” to confiscate the property of convicted accused. But investigation officer, confiscation officer and confiscation tribunal has not been appointed or constituted.

The conviction rate of wildlife complaints and challans are less then 2%. Section-58, provides that the “onus of proof” lies on the accused. But this provision has not been used in prosecution.

Wildlife trophies

Anybody can temper the hammer mark placed on the wildlife trophy.

Section-55(c) of WLPA provides that if CWLW or Wildlife Wardens do not take action in wildlife crimes, anybody can provide a notice to CWLW for 60 days under the Wildlife Protection Rules, 1995. And file private complaint with the competent court for initiating the prosecution.

Where lies the problem

Indian Forest Service officers and State Forest Service officers, not as a thumb rule but to a large extent there is a marked tendency to give up technical operations and conventional forestry.

Under the pretext of people’s participation, there was a government resolution and executive orders were issued for Joint Forest Management and this turned the tide against the forests in 1980s and 1990s.

White Tiger and Recessive Genes

The appearance of White Tiger, Black Panther, White Gaur are all regressive in nature and express “recessive genes” due to shrinking population base, inbreeding and “sexually unviable population” in the absence of proper forest corridors that help in dispersal of species and their migration.

Impact of Development

With rapid infrastructure development, our “ecological stability” has been disturbed to a very large extent and within a few years, the situation will be out of control if mitigation measures are not taken on a war footing. The Narmada River has got converted into muddy pools at many places. Tapti and Parvati Rivers have also gone dry. The State of Karnataka is locked in a war for sharing of water with States of Tamil Nadu and Goa.

Sal Forests

Sal forests found in 22 States of India – Haryana, Shivaliks, mid-Himalayas, to Trpura and with southern range of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. These Sal forests are drying, not having regeneration, showing silviculture signs of Senescence leading to extreme adverse effect of “climate change”. The situation has got compounded due to reckless Sal seed collection (to cater to the international demand from the confectionery sector)  and forest forest fire.


¹CREW – Crusade for Revival of Environment and Wildlife

On World Tiger Day, CREW has released a 4-minute educational documentary on Tiger and the Tiger Habitat