Panna tigers under threat from illegal mining
Panna Tiger Reserve : Photographs of T1 and cubs: T1 with Two cubs. Photo: R. Sreenivasa Murthy
History is waiting to be repeated at the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) as the big cat population is under serious threat in the absence of the crucial and mandatory “buffer zone”.
The declaration of the buffer zone, which is mandatory for a tiger reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (amended in 2006), is being delayed by the Madhya Pradesh government under pressure from a strong mining mafia, according to official sources.
A “buffer zone” is an area around a tiger reserve or national park which is semi-inclusive and allows limited human interference unlike the “core area” which is inviolate.
Delay in the notification of the buffer zone has meant illegal mining and poaching both going on unabated.
“The tiger cubs introduced in the reserve earlier are now growing up and frequently try to move out of the reserve. This makes them vulnerable to traps set up by poachers,” says R.S. Murthy, Field Director, Panna Tiger Reserve.
“Only recently, a tiger cub and a couple of Hyenas were caught in traps set by poachers. Last year, we saved a leopard from such a trap and sent it to the Van Vihar National park in Bhopal. But the park management alone cannot stop such incidents always and therefore the buffer zone is crucial in order to save the Panna tigers,” says Mr. Murthy.
In 2009, the PTR had suffered the ignominy of reporting zero tiger population, chiefly due to poaching.
Recently a confidential report prepared by the Field Director, PTR, highlighted the presence of a poacher-official nexus in the reserve (Poaching mafia-official nexus cause for decreasing numbers of big cats in Panna).
And while poaching continues to be the biggest threat to the newly introduced tiger population in the PTR, the highly influential local mining lobby is only adding to the problem.
Illegal mining of sandstone and flagstone is rampant in the forest areas in and around the Panna Tiger Reserve and is carried out through several means: mining outside and beyond the allotted area, improper use of the pit pass, extracting more than the sanctioned quantity and digging mines in protected and reserved forest areas.
The mining mafia involves a state minister in the ruling BJP government along with local strongmen and even a journalist with a national Hindi TV news channel, according to sources inside the forest department.
There has been a consistent lack of political will with regard to the notification of the buffer zone at the PTR.
“Madhya Pradesh’s political leaders, including the CM, are more interested in protecting the mining interests than setting up the buffer zone for Panna,” says a forest official on the condition of anonymity.
In October 2010, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan announced to a large public gathering at Panna that “people are more important than tigers” and so “there will be no buffer zone for Panna”.
Mr. Chauhan recently “corrected” his stand in an official communication to the forest department and “allowed” for the demarcation of a buffer zone for the PTR.
“Negotiations are currently going on with the 72 villages in the PTR since the Hon’ble CM wants all parties to be consulted before the notification of the buffer zone,” Chief Wildlife Warden H.S. Pablat old The Hindu.
However, informed sources claim the real reason behind the delay is pressure from the mining lobby.
HAMILTON – Responding to initial findings of an elk predator study in the West Fork of the Bitterroot Valley, state game managers have recommended increasing the harvest of mountain lions there this winter to take pressure off elk calves born in the spring.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission gave preliminary approval to a proposal to increase mountain lion permits in Hunting District 250 from 20 to 30 at its meeting Thursday.
The commission will accept comments on the proposal over the next 30 days before making a final decision at its Feb. 16 regular meeting.
State wildlife managers are concerned about the decline in the West Fork of the Bitterroot elk herd, where numbers have dropped from nearly 2,000 animals in 2005 to about 800 last spring.
Researchers captured and tagged elk calves in both the east and west forks of the Bitterroot starting last spring, hoping to document what’s killing the young animals as part of a major three-year elk study.
So far, mountain lions have been the main source of calf mortality, although biologists believe wolves will have a larger impact through the winter months. Through Jan. 4, mountain lions killed 13 of the tagged elk calves, black bears killed four and wolves two.
FWP Region 2 wildlife manager Mike Thompson said the proposal to increase the lion harvest is a direct result of the ongoing research in the Bitterroot.
“It was always the idea to try and put the results of the research to work as they come in,” Thompson said. “We’re not interested in just observing and documenting. We’re interested in implementing and managing.”
If the proposal is given final approval and the additional lions are killed, Thompson said researchers will be able to document any changes in elk calf survival this spring.
“You almost never get that kind of opportunity,” he said.
Since 2008, the mountain lion hunt in west-central and northwest Montana has been limited to special permit holders.
Each hunting district has a quota of permits. Typically, somewhere between 40 percent to 50 percent of those permit holders are successful in killing a mountain lion.
Thompson said a member of the Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association told commissioners Thursday that organization would like the commission to consider allowing general license holders a chance to kill the 10 additional lions offered in the special hunt to ensure the predators are actually killed.
The commissioners replied that was exactly the type of comments they want to hear between now and their next regular meeting, Thompson said.
The department is recommending a change in the mountain lion season next year in an effort to increase the number of animals actually killed. The proposal calls for a hybrid season that would divide the hunt between special permit holders and general licensees to meet demand for both a quality hunt and the need for meeting quotas to reduce predator numbers. The commission will make that decision later this year as part of its regular season-setting process.
Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at 363-3300 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/fwp-commission-gives-preliminary-ok-to-increased-west-fork-lion/article_6aa5dd0c-43da-11e1-9056-001871e3ce6c.html#ixzz1kE5rtCI1
Tejon Ranch, a huge spread of private land in the mountains north of Los Angeles, has announced it will suspend its pricey hunting operations after a state investigation found mountain lions were illegally killed there.
The historic 422-acre ranch said on its website that hunting operations, in which trophy hunters pay more than $10,000 to shoot elk, will be suspended starting Jan. 30, and no new membership applications will be accepted. The shutdown was likely to last a few months, the website said.
Tejon Ranch Co. chief executive Robert Stine said the suspension came after ranch officials learned the outcome of an investigation conducted for much of last year by the California Department of Fish and Game.
“I was appalled and outraged when I learned the results of the investigation,” Stine said in a statement released Friday. “Tejon Ranch did not then, and certainly does not now, condone such activity, and we sincerely regret that such activity took place on our ranch. Accordingly, we are taking every step necessary to ensure it won’t happen again.”
It is not clear how many mountain lions were killed, and government officials have not commented on the findings.
Fish and Game officials gave the results of their investigation to Kern County prosecutors, who have not said whether they plan to pursue charges.
The probe was brought on by a wrongful termination lawsuit filed in May by former ranch hunting guide Bron Sanders, who worked for the ranch for five years but said he was fired in December 2010 for complaining about the killings.
Tejon Ranch managers gave hunting guides perks for shooting mountain lions and even asked customers to shoot them, Sanders’ claim said. Guides who killed mountain lions were instructed to say that they feared for their lives, the lawsuit said.
Barry Zoeller, the ranch’s vice president of corporate communications and marketing, told the Bakersfield Californian at the time that the ranch had conducted an internal investigation and found that Sanders’ allegations were “ridiculous and untrue.”
California voters gave mountain lions protected status in 1991. Killing them without a state-issued permit is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Lebec-based Tejon is a publicly traded agribusiness and real estate development company. Visitors pay top dollar to hunt elk, antelope, deer, wild turkeys, bears and other game on its 270,000-acre property.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/01/21/state/n100206S83.DTL#ixzz1kE58thjC
Mangalore: Pilikula Gets another Female Tiger Cub
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (SP)
Mangalore, Jan 19: The feline population in Dr Shivaram Karant Wildlife Park at Pilikula Nisargadhama here increased by one on Tuesday January 17, after tigress, Shambhavi, gave birth to a female cub.
With this, the number of tigers in the park has gone up to nine. It may be recalled that Netra, another tigress, had given birth to a male cub about two months back.
The cub is yet to open its eyes and the mother tiger is yet to start feeding it. Jayaprakash Bhandary, director of the park, said that it will take about 15 days for the cub to open its eyes and to begin feeding on its mother. He said that the park has, in the meantime, arranged to feed milk to the cub once every three hours.
PHILADELPHIA – January 19, 2012 (WPVI) — The Philadelphia Zoo is welcoming its latest addition: a male African lion named Makini.
Makini, which means “dignity” in the Swahili-African dialect, has taken up residence at the First Niagara Big Cat Falls exhibit.
Zoo officials say the lion, which was born in March 2009, came from the Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum and is settling well in to his new environment. Makini is expected to make his first public appearance next week.
Makini came to the Philadelphia Zoo on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation. SSP is a program that maintains a list of species, complete with their heritage, that are selected and bred for optimum genetic diversity.
Makini will be joined by a female lion in February. The zoo plans to breed the pair to start another lion pride at America’s first zoo. The big cat will share space with the zoo’s original African lion pride.
“The Philadelphia Zoo is thrilled to welcome to our First Niagara Big Cat Falls family Makini, a young male lion,” said Tammy Schmidt, the zoo’s Curator of Carnivores, in a statement.
“Makini was one of two brothers who were born in Tulsa after 16 years of having no births. We are excited to start our new pride journey with Makini,” said Schmidt.
Most lions now live in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers there are rapidly decreasing. Experts say the most significant threat to the species includes habitat loss and conflicts with humans.
African lions are listed as a vulnerable species meaning the species is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.
A tiger cub aged about one-and-a-half years was found dead in the Corbett National Park on Friday.
The post mortem examination of the body was conducted on Saturday following which officials said the cub died due to cold and starvation after being abandoned by its mother.
As per officials of the national park, personnel on routine patrol found the body of the male tiger cub in Jhirna range on Friday. The body was kept in cold storage overnight and the post mortem was conducted on Saturday.
The deputy director of Corbett National Park, CK Kavidayal, informed that the cub is believed to have been abandoned by its mother. Unable to fend for itself, the cub died from starvation and cold.
However, according to Kavidayal, natural deaths are bound to occur with a healthy tiger population in Corbett.
“Last year we counted 42 tiger cubs in the national park and the number is still high but in the wild many
cubs die before reaching adulthood. This cub may have been abandoned by its mother due to various reasons – it might have been unable to keep up with its siblings and the tigress may have been sick and unable to hunt,” Kavidayal said.