NEW DELHI — A state in western India has declared war on animal poaching by allowing forest guards to shoot hunters on sight in an effort to curb rampant attacks on tigers and other wildlife.
The government in Maharashtra says injuring or killing suspected poachers will no longer be considered a crime.
Forest guards should not be “booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against poachers,” Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam said Tuesday. The state also will send more rangers and jeeps into the forest, and will offer secret payments to informers who give tips about poachers and animal smugglers, he said.
Rescued cub dies; tigress, other cub untraced
NAGPUR: The four-month-old tiger cub rescued on Thursday morning from Chorbahuli forest in Paoni range, 50km from here, died early Friday morning.
According to professor of veterinary pathology with Nagpur Veterinary College, Dr Arun Bhandarkar, who performed the post-mortem, the cub died due to severe dehydration accompanied by sunstroke.
The cub seems to have not eaten anything since 4-5 days and hence was weak when brought for treatment. It was cremated at ‘Deer Park’ in Seminary Hills around 12 noon in the presence of deputy conservator P K Mahajan, vigilance DFO D W Pagar, assistant conservators (ACFs) S B Chouhan, Avinash Anjikar and G K Pawar and RFO D R Nandanwar. Honorary district wildlife warden Kundan Hate and NTCA representative Sanjay Deshpande were present.
The cub was first spotted around 5am but brought to Nagpur at 10am. Although it took five hours for the officials to bring the cub from Chorbahuli to Seminary Hills, wildlife vets treating the cub said an hour or two would have hardly mattered as the animal was in a critical condition.
It seems the cub had strayed from its mother and was found in a semi-unconscious state by two Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) chowkidars – Ramnarayan Bamnote and Gendlal Ahake. Both mistook it to be a leopard cub but after they realized it was a tiger cub, panic buttons were pressed.
Mahajan said anti-poaching and mobile squads have been deployed to trace the missing mother tigress and another cub. “For six days we will scan the entire area twice. Additional camera traps have also been deployed in Paoni range to trace the animals.
Wildlife wing officials suspect the tigress to be a resident of territorial area opposite the Mansinghdeo Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary’s Chorbahuli range forest officer (RFO) M B Pokle said two cubs were captured in a camera trap on April 30 and it was the only evidence of the animals.
“We had deployed 32 cameras as part of tiger estimation exercise from March 22 to May 10 in Chorbahuli range. While other tigers have been captured more than once, the two cubs, of which one has now died, were recorded only once on April 30,” Pokle said. He added that if the tigress been a resident of Chorbahuli, it would have been recorded in the cameras during the 45-day census period.
Nitin Desai, Central India director for Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), said, “Mother never leaves its cubs for so many days. It should have been monitored immediately.”
Hate asserted that information on tigers should be shared by wildlife and territorial wing officials immediately.
On Thursday, Chorbahuli farmer Shravan Kokod claimed to have spotted a tigress with a cub in the area two days ago but on Friday he said he had only heard roars of a tiger around 4am on Thursday. Pokle says the tigress may be roaring in agony over the ailing cub. “We have asked the locals to keep a watch,” he said.
Foresters want flyovers
The forest officials have favoured construction of flyovers for wild animals near forest patches on NH7. The presence of cub has proved it is an established corridor, says deputy conservator P K Mahajan. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has submitted a revised proposal for forest land diversion on NH7 for road widening. Earlier, the NHAI needed 112 hectares land but now it has scaled down the demand to 49 hectares. “It has also removed the Mansinghdeo compartment which was supposed to be affected by road widening,” Mahajan informed.
Poachers again active in tiger reserves, one cub dies
Poachers have struck yet again cocking a snook at the forest personnel and the government. Another big cat – a tiger cub – which was found injured in Chorbauli forest died in Nagpur on Friday. The cub fell victim to suspected poachers in Vidarbha where seven tigers were killed by poachers since
The five-month cub separated from its mother was found in injured state by some villagers in Chorbauli forest range, adjacent to the Pench Tiger reserves, some 75 kms from here on Thursday morning. They immediately informed the local forest department that led to shift the female cub at Nagpur for treatment.
The wild animal sustained serious injuries in many parts of its body after a stray dog attacked it when the cub tried to enter in a forest village on Thursday early morning. PG Thakre, the round officer of Chorbauli forest range, who brought the cub to Nagpur for treatment in a jeep, informed that the villagers noticed the resting big cat in the field of one Siddhilal Chauksey near Mogra village on Thursday early morning.
“It was being treated by a team of veterinary doctors since yesterday afternoon. However, the big cat was not responding to the treatment. The cub sustained multiple injuries in different parts of the body,” said Kishore Mishrikotkar, the assistant conservator of forests (wildlife).
The condition of the animal, believed to have suffered internal injuries, worsened in the night and it dies on Friday around 6.00 am, Mishrikotkar added. After autopsy, the carcass will be either buried or burnt.
Earlier, two tigers were caught in steel traps set by professional tiger poachers in a heart-rending incident that took place in Palasgaon jungle, a buffer zone of Tadoba in Chandrapur district last month. One tiger died and the other has been rescued by the forest department but has serious injuries. “The tiger is now being treated in Nagpur and it is responding to the treatment,” claimed Mishrikotkar.
In another shocking incident, the mutilated body of a tiger was found outside the Tadoba tiger reserves last week. Poachers took away the head, paws and vital organs of the tiger, leaving behind a chopped off tail and other body parts stuffed in gunny bags dumped on a state highway.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Mishrikotkar informed that a combing operation was launched near Pench tiger reserves after the cub was found in injured state. “We suspected that mother of the cub might have been killed by the poachers and thus it was separated from its mother,” he said.
Cub’s rescue proves national highway-7 too needs flyovers
NAGPUR: Although the Supreme Court has refused to grant any relief for four-laning of NH7 along the Pench Tiger Reserve, the case of abandoned cub has once again proved that it is an established wildlife corridor and hence if permission for road widening is granted, elevated underpasses or flyovers for wildlife will be need of the hour.
The tiger cub found in Chorbahuli forest near Mogra lake on Thursday is one among the two cubs trapped in a camera on April 30, during the ongoing tiger estimation exercise. The camera traps installed in compartment number 593, on the edge of the Mansingdeo sanctuary, show two cubs.
The compartment 593 is on the left side while going toward Seoni from Nagpur. Whereas the cub was found in compartment 270 on the right side. It means the tigress with two cubs must have crossed the highway to reach the other side.
The fate of highway widening from Seoni in Madhya Pradesh to Mansar near Ramtek in Maharashtra hangs in balance as it will cuts tiger corridor between Pench, Kanha, Nagzira, Indravati, and Tadoba.
On Maharashtra side, the proposed four-laning in the 39km patch from Deolapar to Mansar will cut through recently declared Mansingdeo sanctuary. The existing width of the road is 17 metres and NHAI plans to widen it to 60 metres. The road work may hit compartment number 593, where two tiger cubs have been found in the camera trap.
In the latest report, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, has recommended elevated underpasses for wildlife movement on NH6 near four forest patches between Lakhni in Bhandara and Deori in Gondia. Four-landing in these patches has been stalled as it will cut tiger corridors.
Prafulla Bhamburkar, manager of Wildlife Trust of India (WII) which went to the Supreme Court against road widening, feels that after the supreme court orders, the NHAI will have to revise the proposal and seek permission from the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) headed by the prime minister.
“When the court has said that the issue should be decided on merits, it will not be easy for the NHAI to push for the four-laning,” he said. “Proposal for diversion of sanctuary land for any developmental project can be considered only by the NBWL. Nagpur-Seoni is 125 kms, of which 65km is forest area with rich wildlife,” said Bhamburkar.
The NTCA has already submitted that under no circumstances should the road be widened. It will lead to destruction of 22,482 trees in the area proposed for diversion on Maharashtra side alone. If implemented, it will damage tiger habitat and its corridors.
Alternative route from Nagpur-Saoner-Chhindwara-Seoni to save two tiger reserves has been suggested but it is not acceptable to NHAI.
Cub shares space with full-grown tiger in ‘rescue centre’ tent
NAGPUR: The Chorbahuli incident has once again highlighted the dire need for a rescue and treatment centre for wild animals in the city.
In the past four years, over a dozen carnivores including injured leopards and tigers have been brought to the city for treatment from the forest areas. However, due to lack of a rescue centre, wildlife has been suffering.
The four-month-old cub is being treated in a makeshift enclosure in the forest department’s nursery at Seminary Hills. The enclosure, which is like a collapsible shamiana, itself had been hurriedly put up on April 26 after another tiger was brought for treatment from Palasgoan outside Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Chandrapur district. It was found caught in a trap laid by poachers near a waterhole. While one wildcat died in this incident a third one managed to escape.
Both, the Palasgaon tiger and the Chorbahuli female cub have been placed in separate cages but in the same shamiana.
A proposal for a rescue centre in Gorewada has been pending with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for two years but no serious efforts have been made by the state government to get it through.
Gorewada is a suitable location as it centrally located from all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Vidarbha and rescued or trapped animal can be shifted in 5 hours at the proposed centre.
Gorewada is well connected by roads. Besides, the city has good team of wildlife vets with the Maharashtra Animal Husbandry and Fisheries University (MAFSU).
The centre can help treat all seized, rescued, sick or injured animals and will subsequently ensure their release. The centre will also be helpful to carry out study and scientific research on behaviour of the rescued animals.
“With excessive cattle and human population and urbanization being main reasons for conflicts between humans and wild animals, cases of straying tigers and panthers will increase in future,” said conservationist Kishor Rithe.