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Ken Betwa Project : Plan to Massacre Millions of Trees Give Goosebumps

 India should  drop the idea  of Ken Betwa  Linking Project (KBLP) which will require felling of  2 to 4  million trees in the emerald forests of Panna national park . Think of the  loss of this staggering  number of trees  in the backdrop of the  unprecedented summers that the country  experienced in the year 2024. Many parts of Bundelkhand where Panna  is situated recorded 49 degrees Celsius while the mercury  soared to 52.9 degrees C in Delhi, later corrected by the government to 50 degrees C (49.9). For a moment forget  the loss of tiger habitat  in the park, think over our own survival. Referring to the  special morphological significance and unique biodiversity of Panna national park, the central empowered committee of the Supreme Court  on the KBLP  observed ," implementing this project would result in the complete breakdown of the evolutionary processes of millions of years." It warned of the widespread ecological devastation.River Ken  is lifeline of  the tiger reser
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A Cheetah By The Tail

 Cheetah  rescue operations after they stray  away from the  safe confines  of  congested  Kuno national park  have been reported   regularly in India  since  September 2022 when  the  maiden  batch of African cat landed in India  amidst much fanfare. But the latest visuals of yet another such action- this time in  a crowded Rajasthan village in Karauli district-put a question mark again  on the safety of the animal.   This cheetah had to be handled physically in order to prevent it from falling into a ravine as it cornered at the crest of the ravine after darting amid a gathering of an huge crowd nearby. Pawan's Life Was At Risk  Rajasthan forest  department officials alerted Kuno  National Park authorities  about the cheetah leading them to a rescue operation. Pawan, the male cheetah had wandered into Rajasthan through Chambal river bank and was spotted by the local villagers who in turn informed the  local authorities. “Male cheetah Pavan was rescued from Karauli district in Raj

Cheetah Cubs Born in Boma , Do They Have Conservation Value ?

When Aasha gave birth to three cubs in one of the enclosures  of  Kuno national park - there was good news and bad news. The good news is that this is the second litter of cheetah on Indian soil after Siyaya, another Namibia cheetah, gave birth to four cubs in March 2023 and that the animal seems to have acclimatized further in India conditions. Birth in captivity will also enhance their chances of survival. The three newborns  from Aasha have also increased the number of cheetahs in India.  The bad news is that like Siyaya's cubs, they too are born within the confines of a boma and would not get the environmental conditions required to survive in the wild. They would also be reared up by Aasha in the enclosure -safe from predators like leopards. But what does this mean? Kuno Awaits Cheetah Birth in Open Forest Cheetahs were translocated to India with a purpose. The Cheetah action plan envisages saving, conserving and developing India's grasslands .The reason for choosing cheet

For the First Time the Official Tale of Kuno Cheetahs

  Ahead of the first anniversary of the  controvertial cheetah project  and the release of African cheetahs in  Kuno national park ,  interesting observations have been shared by the  director of the park where   14 cheetahs await re-release in the wild. They were caught   and brought back to bomas following 6 cheetah deaths after septicemia caused by abrasion from   satellite collars.   Uttam Kumar Sharma , the park director has dwelt in detail on cheetah movements and their exploration of the landscape , their interaction with each other and the  efforts  made by the  park management to  monitor the  animals  round the clock as he tried to hammer home a point- African cheetahs are adapting fast in India.  Asha: The Hope   Based upon his observations, Sharma has released newsletters   revolving around   two cheetah coalitions -Gaurav-Shaurya (Rockstars) and Agni-Vayu (White walkers), Asha, the female cheetah from Namibia and  Jwala and her Indian born cubs. The story  of the two coali

Selfie With Leopard

Over fifty people in a village of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh risked their life as they played around an ailing leopard .The leopard was    spotted in an isolated area of Eklara Mata village, about 70 kms away from the district headquarter of the industrial town  of Dewas on August 29. The spotted cat is suffering from some neurological disorder which may have been caused by rabies of canine distemper virus. Though the villagers did not harm the animal, they were exposed to the animal bite as they fondled the animal, sat around it and tried to even have a ride before taking selfies. Leopard Ride ?  Videos taken by them raise  many serious questions. Who is actually the animal? The people taking selfies and having fun with the  hapless spotted cat as they yelled, whistled, jostled to play and to  shoot videos and images  from mobile phones. But beast that seemed to have lost its animal instinct because of the ailment did not react.  People living around the  forest fringes  n

Drones, Dogs Help Catch Cheetah Nirva In Kuno

Officials in the Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFC&C)  and those  involved in cheetah  translocation in Namibia and  South Africa heaved a huge sigh of relief after Nirva, the female cheetah  missing since July 21 was captured in Kuno national park . But the operation to capture Nirva was a huge exercise and, perhaps, has no parallel in the history of wildlife conservation in India.  Spreading over 150 hours stretched in 22 days, more than 100 forest department personnel, looked out for a cheetah in a rain drenched jungle. Day in , day out ,they walked on foot, rode elephants, flew drones and deployed dogs in search of the cheetah.  Hard work and perseverance paid off and Nirva was caught and captured. “Nirva is healthy and has been kept inside boma for further health check-up”, said Aseem Shrivastava, the chief wildlife warden of Madhya Pradesh.  Nirva in Kuno was Like Needle in Haystack Operation Nirva began in the backdrop of  three cheetah death- T

Tiger Parts Seizure in Assam Shows Unprotected Areas Are Poachers' Paradise

Recent seizure of bones and skin of a tiger in Assam leading to arrest of poachers and a  tiger part trader ,former employee of the Wildlife wing  of Delhi forest department ,should be a wake up call for the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) . Body parts of the tiger  from Chandrapur -Gadchiroli districts in Maharashtra were confiscated   more than 2000 kms away in Assam in the last week of June. Poachers killed the tiger outside protected area of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve ( TATR ) , skinned it and  placed the bones in a sack. Almost 40% of  India's tigers – more than 1000-live outside the protected area and the region where the Maharashtra tiger was killed is considered as a conflict zone with large cases of man tiger conflict. People here just hate tigers. Hunted and Hounded, The Tiger Runs for Life This episode, an eye opener for the investigating agencies, has all the elements which pose serious threat   to the survival of the tiger and also a major challenge to t

Another Cheetah Dies in Kuno as African Experts Plea the Sc for Transparency in the Project

  While reporting for  television and the print media during a long period of over three decades , I noticed a tendency of Indian bureaucracy - most of the bureaucrats in India seem to have trained themselves for hiding information. There is also lack of transparency especially while dealing with the community outside their sphere. International experts in cheetah translocation project  in Kuno national park are also experiencing the same issue. During the recent cheetah deaths, especially after July 11 when a male cat died, the first from alleged  satellite tracking -collar abrasion, it was revealed that the African experts were  begging for information from India officials .There was a delay of more than 24 precious hours when some details, not all, reached the African experts as Indian authorities  made "assumptions"  over  the injury  caused  to  Tejas, the male cheetah by a female. He later died. He was followed by Suraj but the reason was the same, deterioration of the

Tiger Reserves In Waiting : Tale of Mhadei and Ratapani Sanctuaries

   On July 24, the Goa bench of Bombay High Court took the help of an ancient Indian epic Mahabharata to explain  the state government the importance of  the tiger . “If there is no forest, then the tiger gets killed; if there is no tiger, then the forest gets destroyed. Hence, the tiger protects the forest, and the forest guards the tiger!” The court cited the epic  while directing the government to notify the 208 sq. km Mhadei wildlife sanctuary and its surrounding areas as a tiger reserve, and issue a notification within three months.  But the state government of this popular tourist destination has decided to challenge it in the Supreme Court. Over 1200 kms away from Goa, Ratapani sanctuary  in Madhya Pradesh has been awaiting  tiger reserve status for the last one and half decade.  In 2022, six tigers were recorded in Goa, an important tiger corridor in the Western Ghats where the big cat numbers are on decline. Against the six tigers in Goa, there are more than 45 in Ratapani, a

Bringing African Cheetahs to India a Wrong Decision ?

 India’s cheetah project has derailed as it faces an unprecedented crisis, not  even anticipated  by the cheetah managers- neither from Africa nor India. Though the project- wrapped in secrecy-  envisioned a high mortality of cheetah , the present cause of deaths did not find any mention in the Cheetah Action Plan. There are more issues including  politics, bureaucratic hurdles and red tapism  responsible for the present predicament and none of them have any link with wildlife and environment. Amidst all this,  officials and experts are trying hard to get the project back on tracks. Conservation Project or Political Minefield ? Outbursts of an eminent South African veterinarian will explain his frustration and the present state of affairs in   managing the cheetahs in Kuno national park. Dr Adrian Tordiffe who is an eminent veterinarian from South Africa and is one of the five consulting panelists of international Cheetah experts for advice -as and when required. But, it seems, Tordiff