Category Archives: Forest

Reconstituted Madhya Pradesh State Wildlife Board: High Court allows revision of petition challenging nominations as violative of the Wild Life (Protection) Act

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Photo © Lalit Shastri

Jabalpur/Bhopal: A two-Judge Bench of Jabalpur High Court presided by Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and comprising Justice Anil Verma has allowed petitioner Ajay Dubey to file an application to amend the original petition challenging the formation of the Madhya Pradesh Wildlife Board by the previous state Government headed by Kamal Nath since the present BJP Government has disbanded that Board and constituted a new one. 

The High Court has given 4 weeks time to the petitioner to make the application for amendment in the petition. The original petition pointed to gross violation of the provisions for nomination of members in the State Wildlife Board under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. 

Aditya Sanghi, the counsel  for petitioner Ajay Dubey submitted during the hearing on Saturday through video conferencing that the respondent, i.e., State had passed a fresh order  re-constituting  the  Board on 20 November 2020. 

Another petition filed by senior journalist and eminent environmentalist Lalit Shastri in the same matter is also linked with the petition filed by Ajay Dubey. Shastri’s counsel in this case are Praveen Kumar Pandey and Suman Dubey.

Click links below to check background of this case:

Exclusion of some experts puts a question mark on the reconstituted MP State Wildlife Board

State Wildlife Board: Madhya Pradesh Government is in the dock and has a lot to answer

Petition challenging the reconstitution of Madhya Pradesh Wildlife Board: Jabalpur High Court serves notice to MP Government

Jabalpur High Court admits petition against reconstitution of State Wildlife Board

If you have “special interest in wildlife” you could be a member of State Wildlife Board in Madhya Pradesh

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Nature’s Disciple: An illuminating book by a forest and wildlife expert

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Anyone and everyone concerned even an iota about the protection and conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems, forest and wildlife should read “Nature’s Disciple”. It’s a pathbreaking and illuminating book by Suhas Kumar, who has retired as the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests from the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department.

This book is set in central Indian forests, largely in Madhya Pradesh-the torch bearer of wildlife management in our country that also has relevant reference to the forests of Vidarbha region of the neighbouring Maharashtra. The book has arrived as a breath of fresh air and candour at a time when some of the wild animals, specifically the leopards and tigers, in the present context are being viewed by the ill-informed and uncaring section of the society as inimical to the lives of people. While incidents of strife are usually reported from rural India, some of the urban sprawls that fail to rein in their poorly planned expansion across the existing forested tracts on their doorstep, which has been the case of the MP state capital Bhopal, are no exception.

While painting the lives of wild creatures with delicate strokes of an artist’s brush, the pages, without breaking stride, deal with men who have wrested as large slices of the natural areas as possible from being lost to the relentless march of development, encroachments, and other human activities. There are lessons in the highest levels of conservation leadership without hiding the soft belly of the onerous tasks.
There is narrative of large predators in trouble-leopards and tigers; of the local extinction of the large-hearted gentleman, the tiger-so christened by the redoubtable Jim Corbett-in Panna Tiger Reserve a decade ago and the tiger’s remarkable resurrection in the very same area. Of daring experiments, investigations, innovations, and establishment of field-based skills, all carried to their logical conclusion-success. The reader is placed right in the middle of the action! What is more, there is no hiding of problems and some failures.

Out of his 35 years in the Indian Forest Service, Suhas Kumar spent 23 years managing, supervising, and guiding the management and training the officers and staff of national parks, sanctuaries, and tiger reserves of the state.

Suhas Kumar was the Director of Pench National Park (now a tiger reserve) for almost five and a half years (April 1985 to August 1990) during its formative period. He headed the Wildlife Extension Faculty at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, from December 1990 to April 1996 and contributed to the growth of the training capabilities of WIL In the field, he has been an initiator of several innovative measures that have contributed immensely to strengthen the management of wildlife in Madhya Pradesh. Some of his major contributions are the establishment of regional and divisional wildlife rescue squads, tiger strike force-a trained and equipped wildlife crime control set-up, and the school of wildlife forensic and health and the first non-invasive mass capture and relocation of hard ground barasingha. He had guided the scientific management of habitats, especially grasslands, and revamped and streamlined the MP tiger foundation society and Park development fund.

Suhas is a trained wildlife manager, a law graduate, and holds a Ph.D. in Environment and Ecology discipline in the field of ecotourism in protected areas. He has also acquired some knowledge and training in nature interpretation and ecotourism from the US, the UK, and Australia. Presently, he is a member of Chhattisgarh State Board for Wildlife, WWF-India’s State Advisory Board for Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and the Governing Body and Governing Council of National Centre for Human Settlement and Environment, Bhopal. He is also a member of the Delhi Biodiversity Society. Earlier, he had served as the chairman of the Research Advisory Committee of the M.P. State Biodiversity Development Board and member of Madhya Pradesh State Board for Wildlife for two terms. He was the chairman of one of the evaluation teams constituted by NTCA in 2017-18 for 13 tiger reserves of the country. His write-ups, research papers, and case studies have been published in books, magazines, newspapers, and web media. Wildlife Management, Ecotourism Planning, Participatory Forest Management, Wildlife Rescue, Wildlife Health, Wildlife Crime Investigation, and Interpretation & Conservation Education have been his areas of interest, and his contribution to each of these aspects has been uniquely useful.

You may give your feedback to the Author at sukum48@rediffmail.com

CREW launches Wild Madhya Pradesh

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Bhopal: Crew – Crusade for Revival of Environment and Wildlife, a not for profit organisation, Sunday 27 June, launched on Youtube a wildlife documentary titled “Wild Madhya Pradesh”.

Through this documentary, Lalit Shastri, founder President of CREW, especially addresses the young generation across the world urging them to come closer – much closer to nature and wildlife.

The documentary underscores how the tiger began its journey on Earth about 2 million years ago and has roamed in the Central Indian Highlands for billions of days and nights.
Central India is the heart of India’s wildlife. For several million years this part of the world has remained covered with Asian sub-continent’s largest forest tracts that have all through remained a perfect tiger habitat. Around 15 to 20 % of the world’s tigers, of course in the natural habitat, are found in this landscape.

We are trustees of nature, biodiversity, flora, fauna, rivers and forest ecosystems. We have to watch and protect our forests and wildlife from reckless exploitation for human greed. – Lalit Shastri

Water Capital of India

The Central Indian Highlands and the river basins of Madhya Pradesh form a huge watershed with Narmada river along with Chambal, Betwa, Son, Mahi and their tributaries charging rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Tapti, Mahanadi and Godavari. This landscape ideally should be treated as the water capital of India since it broadly takes care of almost 40 per cent of the water requirement of at least 10 Indian States.

The herbivore population in this territory is mainly represented by gaur, also called the Indian Bison, sambar, cheetal or the spotted deer and black buck. This region is also famous for the hard ground barasingha.

Kanha Tiger Reserve

The Kanha Tiger Reserve, apart from supporting the tiger population, has also played an important role continuously for so many years and saved from extinction the highly endangered hard ground barasingha – the last world population of this deer species.

Only recently, a few Barasinghas from Kanha have been relocated in Bori Sanctuary while some also have been brought to Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal.

Bori – the first Protected Area in the Country

When Bori sanctuary near Hoshangabad was declared a Protected Area by the British in 1861, it became the first Protected Area in the country.

Due to the forest management practices, we can still see living forests in this Central Indian landscape and one can truly call it a perfect tiger habitat.

Panna Tiger Reintroduction Project

The Panna Tiger Reintroduction Project was taken up to repopulate the Panna Tiger Reserve in 2009 after the last of the Panna tigers had vanished. History was created when a Panna tiger–Panna-212 discovered the Panna-Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve corridor and paired with a tigress in the Sanjay Tiger Reserve adjoining Bandhavgarh in 2017.

Living Forests

If we want to protect the tiger, we shall have to ensure our forests remain living forests. A forest can be a living forest only when the different strata of the forest community are intact; when there is abundance of grass, shrub, moisture, and enough worms, insects and reptiles to burrow the soil and make the ground porous to allow rainwater to percolate and recharge ground water; and when there are birds, bees and butterflies that serve as pollinators and seed dispersing agents.

Our forests can regenerate only when all this is constant. Let us not forget that the ecosystem has to be intact for survival of not only the carnivores and herbivores but also humankind.

The wildlife footage for thee documentary – Wild Madhya Pradesh – has been shot over a 20-year period. Most of the video footage used for this documentary has been recorded on first-generation DV handy-cams that could be treated as symbols of evolving technology. It has been produced to build awareness about conservation and protection of biodiversity, forest and wildlife. The documentary showcases the flora and fauna of Madhya Pradesh in its full grandeur. It contains exclusive video footage with special focus on Tiger that sits at the apex of the biotic pyramid and has to be protected at all cost.

Today tiger is greatly threatened. Only if we protect the tigers and ensure they continue to breed in their natural habitat we will be able to address the problem of climate change and guarantee the survival of humankind.

Just sit back and enjoy the documentary

Just sit back and enjoy the magnificent wildlife of Central Indian Highlands and treat this video as an ode to Wild Madhya Pradesh.

Ajit Sonakia symbolised the best of Indian Forest Service

Lalit Shastri

Ajit Sonakia with Dr Gowri Ramnarayan, renowned playwright, theatre director, journalist (The Hindu) at Central indian Highlands Film Festival

Ajit was a dear dear friend. He was one of the finest human beings and the most dedicated Indian Forest Service Officers I have come across. He lived within his means and believed firmly in the tenet “justice with fairness”. He lived with a purpose and his commitment to enforcement of the law of the land when it came to protecting forest and wildlife was ultimate.

Ajit Sonakia with world renowned wildlife and environment expert Bittu Sahgal and Dr Gowri Ramnarayan at CIHFestival, Bhopal

I saw closely and marvelled Ajit’s expertise regarding wildlife from close range and am amply aware of the vested interests that did everything to keep him at a distance when it came to wildlife management in Madhya Pradesh at the senior level. The vested interests were so deeply entrenched that at one stage an attempt even was made by a Principal Secretary Forest to block his promotion for good at the CCF level through an adverse CR. He had brilliantly contested the diabolic action and assessment by the bureaucrat in question. Ultimately his reasoned interjection won him the day. The irony was, this bureaucrat was later rewarded with a post-retirement sinecure and was made a Vice Chancellor.

On his retirement, Ajit Sonakia was devoted full-time to the cause of educating children and the larger society about Global Warming and Climate Change.

I will never forget the long (after office) hours, Sundays and other public holidays he used to spend with me in the decade of the 90s discussing threadbare the factors threatening forest. A large part of these marathon exchanges were always focused on the tiger habitat and endangered species. That’s when during one of my tours as a journalist, I learnt how ex-Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who was then Union Minister and unquestioned leader from Chhindwara, was patronising those engaged in illegal fishing in the Totladeh reservoir in Pench Tiger Reserve. Exclusive reports by me in The Hindu to expose this had led to the intervention of the Supreme Court in this matter. I will always remain indebted to Ajit Sonakia for suggesting the name – Crusade for Revival of Environment and Wildlife (CREW) – and helping in framing the objectives of our NGO. CREW took off by conducting ground level investigation into factors threatening the tiger habitat and more particularly the problem of poaching and releasing the path breaking report Vanishing Stripes in June 1999. Next year we had released the sequel, Vanishing Stripes II.

Ajit played a leading role in turning CREW into a think tank and remained closely associated with Central Indian Highlands Wildlife Film Festival.