Skip to main content

Panna landscape Needs 2 More National Parks, Not Satellite Tiger Collaring

Ahead of the controversial Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) amidst concerns over enormous environmental loss in Panna tiger reserve (PTR), two major studies have been launched quietly in the PTR -a major project for GPS Satellite collaring of 14 tigers in Panna and radio tagging of threatened vultures.  Wildlife Institute of India (WII)  is involved in both of these, one of a kind projects. All 14 tigers will be collared to study their dispersal behavior and 25 vultures will also be radio -tagged to understand movement, habits and their range of scavenging. The WII is funding both the projects which are part of the Panna Landscape planning for the KBLP. However, experts have raised eyebrows,“The project was not at all required. Tiger habits and their dispersal pattern in Panna is very well known and recorded”, they said.   “ It’s an Exercise in Futility” Eight big cats roaming in the buffer zone of the tiger reserve and 6 from Panna landscape including  the forest divisions surroundin

The Great Elephant Migration: Can MP Chattisgarh join hands to Welcome the Jumbo ?

Like tigers, elephants too are running. They are moving from East to West reclaiming their lost territories, lost more than 200 years ago. Like the big cats, the beast of burden is facing a huge crisis of fragmentation of jungle corridors and shrinking habitat . Following growing urbanisation and deforestation in elephant areas like west Bengal and Jharkhand in the east, the pachyderms are pushing westwards towards Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

 The Great Elephant Migration

We need to save this magnificent creature, revered in India because of its connection with lord Ganesha.  But the way elephants are treated raises    a question -  Are we Indians hypocrites? Is this reverence only a show off ?  

According to data  released by the Union ministry of environment and forest in February 2019, 373 elephants had died between 2015-16 and 2018-19 (till December 31, 2018) due to reasons like electrocution, train accident, poaching and poisoning. The number comes out to be almost eight every month. During the same period, a total of 1,713 human lives were lost in human-elephant conflict for which a compensation of Rs. 51.66 crore was paid.

The government also paid a compensation of over Rs 174.42 crore for the loss of crops and damage to property during this duration.

In the last one year, the numbers of deaths- both those of humans and elephants- have gone up creating concern for the wildlife lovers.  And as the man-elephant conflict rises, the cases of loss of property- including houses and crops- have also gone up exponentially.

Conservation Efforts

Recently,   news channels were airing pictures of dead   elephants in Chattisgarh where the Congress government has fast tracked  the setting up of Lemru elephant reserve (LER), spread over Korba, Katghora, Dharamjigarh and Surguja forest divisions of Korba, Raigad and Surguja districts. So far, about 250 elephants have already crossed over Jharkhand jungles as they migrate from east to west . It is believed that  the Chattisgarh elephants had died either of poisoning or electrocution following man- animal conflict in  a large area as the giant animal moved from one place to another damaging  property, crops and even killing villagers.

The present  LER area -1995.48 square kilometers- is likely to be extended after the catchment area of Hasdeo river spread over 250 sq km is included. However, the state government is facing a major hurdle because of the presence of four operational mines in the Hasdeo river’s catchment area, which also includes another five allotted mines and 12 coal reserves. The pristine Hasdeo Arand forest- where the LER is being set up, known for its high quality coal reserves.

The BJP government in 2007 had proposed this reserve in which only nine coal mining areas were included . The decision will not only help improve the elephant population but will also help in conserving the entire Hasdeo Arand forest.

Elephant experts in the prestigious Wildlife Institute of India (WII)  who researched in Chattisgarh said, “ this is a fantastic investment  for elephant conservation.”  They said this would go a long way in re-establishing  the migrating elephants and  minimizing conflict with the  pachyderm.”

If all goes well and  Hasdeo  catchment area is included, it will solve the issues of  water not only in  Chattisgarh but also in  the neighbouring Odisha, WII experts feel.

“ Like tiger , it is also an umbrella species and  its conservation  will lead to the protection of other species and also recharge the whole region”, they said.

New Settlements In Madhya Pradesh

                                                                               Ravi Shukla 

About 40 elephants from Chattisgarh have also reached Bandhavgarh national park in Umaria district of MP. There are about 10 more elephants in Sanjay  national park of Sidhi and they came directly  from Palamu in Jharkhand.

For the first time, Bandhavgarh reserve forest has become a colony of elephants for the past two years.

While India is home to 50 per cent of the Asian elephant population, and according to the 2017 elephant census there are 27,312 elephants in the country – a decrease, however, of nearly 3,000 from the 2012 census – there were no elephants in Madhya Pradesh then.

Experts said there were no known reasons for the disappearance  of elephants from  central  India including MP and until a few years ago Chhattisgarh, but experts say a loss of habitat could have led to this.

Elephant experts now say the development is a sign not only of a rise in elephant numbers in the country, and the fact that they are travelling, but also that they can thrive at a place given the right conditions.

This is for the first time in centuries that elephants have  stayed in MP . The present herd arrived in December 2018. Many experts  hoped that the  elephant herd from Bandhavgarh would return  but it did not happen.

Long ago, the elephants were found in Chattisgarh region’s Sarguja forests, perhaps,  till the  fag end of Mughal era. But they disappeared in the early 20th century only to reappear  in the 1990s and early-2000s. Presently, there are about 250 elephants in north Chhattisgarh that have mostly come from Odisha and Jharkhand.

 Crisis Looms Large

                                                                          Satyendra Tiwari 

When the elephants are  spreading in other parts of the country, the endangered species of the Asian elephant will be faced with further “heavy loss” in its habitat over the next few decades due to climate change, said a recent study , which predicts that with this situation, elephant range would likely shift towards higher elevations in the Himalayas.

This has also assumed significance as  a latest  research work on the elephants warned ,“The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)  could lose over 40 % of its current habitat in India and Nepal due to climate change over the next few decades. The loss in habitat will lead to elephants seeking refuge at higher elevations in the Himalayan mountains. It could also lead to greater human-elephant conflict and may impact the future of other species as well”.

The study, recently published in the journal Diversity and Distributions emphasised that climate change will cause redistribution of species, directly through temperature and water availability and indirectly through further habitat modification.

Currently, the Asian elephant occupies only a small fraction of its historical range, with India and Nepal being home to more than 60 percent of the total population of the wild Asian elephants, said the study. But the species is under constant threat from land use changes due to the conversion of its habitat for agriculture, urbanisation, transportation and industry.

The results of the study suggested that by the end of this century, around 41.8 % of the 256,518 square kilometres of habitat available at present, will be lost due to combined effects of climate change and human pressure.

This is the reason why it is all the more important to protect the elephants.

In fact Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh should join hands  and work together in the direction of conservation of this beautiful species.

They should think beyond party lines and sink political differences to save the elephant. Can they do this? would want them to achieve this for the sake of mother nature.


Popular posts from this blog

Fresh Tiger Crisis in MP Midst Favourable Poaching Conditions

Madhya Pradesh , the tiger state of India, is facing  fresh tiger threat. Four cases of suspected poaching around Bandhavgarh national park in the last one month and tragic tiger killing in a road accident near Panna national park rattled the state forest department. Experts believe that this is an ominous sign and should serve as a wake -up call for the government to continue the tiger success story in the state. Already facing the issues of multiple threats to the tiger corridors and habitat, the recent happenings revolve around the revenge killing and poaching. There is also an urgent need to initiate retrofitting measures in the parks like Panna , recently included in the list of UNESCO biosphere reserves. Disturbing Trends Around the National Park As the special task force (STF) of wildlife rush to investigate the tiger killings around Bandhavgarh national park- 4 in about 25 days of time- it is suspected that “organised poachers” are behind the killings. Quite a sensation was

Lantana: World’s Worst Weed Devouring Jungles

When people from the world of glamour take up some issue like conservation of forest and environment, the message is sent far and wide. Versatile Bollywood actor Rahul Singh, famous for films like Ghazi Attack, Tere Bin laden and  Delhi Belly among others,  decided to convert the  corona crisis into an opportunity and joined the  wonderful initiative of Inspector General of police Binita Singh to uproot Lantana ( Lantana Camara) from Sajjangarh  wildlife sanctuary in Udaipur. As the campaign continues, more and more people joined to get rid of one of the world’s 10 worst weeds,  fast spreading in the country' s forests.  Rahul Singh shares his views on the  issue. Tarachand I live near the 519.61 hectare Sajjangarh wildlife sanctuary in  Udaipur,  home to leopards, jackals,  jungle cats and a variety of antelopes and deer  including , sambhar ,cheetal  ( spotted deer) and blue bull or the nilgai among others .  But the beautiful forest known as crown of Udaipur is infested with Lan

Lonely Tiger Returns Home After One Decade

If tigers are solitary creatures, don't they get lonely and depressed? An interesting question ran by Quora on July 29, 2017. About three years later, a tiger itself seemed to have answered this query.  This tiger lived , alone ,in Kuno Palpur   Ntional Park of Madhya Pradesh for 10 years, yes, one decade !   Recently the elderly tiger reached his home Ranthambhore National Park , almost 100 kms away, safely. Code named T38 by the officials of this wonderful tiger reserve of Rajasthan some time in 2006 -07, the big cat was known as “Ranthambhore ka Sher '' in Kuno,   the park awaiting the arrival of lions for three decades now. For this reason, Madhya Pradesh has not relocated any tiger in the park to increase   their number and for the past 3650 days, T38   was living absolutely unaccompanied   . Interestingly , there was no tigress around and T38 spent a bachelor’s life. The predator would hunt and was quite healthy. A tiger expert of Wildlife Institute of India (WII