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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

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

Ken-Betwa Link Project, KBLP, Panna tiger reserve, GPS Satellite collaring tigers in Panna Wildlife Institute of India All 14 tigers will be collared

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”

Ken-Betwa Link Project, KBLP, Panna tiger reserve, GPS Satellite collaring, tigers in Panna, Wildlife Institute of India, All 14 tigers will be collared,

Eight big cats roaming in the buffer zone of the tiger reserve and 6 from Panna landscape including  the forest divisions surrounding Panna Tiger Reserve and the jungles  in  Damoh, Sagar and  Chhatarpur will be collared.  All the 8  tigers from the  buffer zone have been identified and will be collared one by one in the coming months . The park director Uttam Kumar Sharma said  that in the past, radio collaring was done for the protection of individual  tigers in Panna. But now their population is sustainable. “ In the new study with the help of  satellite  radio collaring,  research will be conducted about the behaviour and movement of the tigers, especially those which are dispersing away”.  One GPS satellite collar costs around Rs 2.5 lakh and has an “auto-drop” facility on command. This means whenever it is required to remove the collar,  it would be done without  tranquilization of the tiger.  “One  computer command and the collar will be removed”,  the director said.  In the beginning, P213 (63), a young tigress  of 26 months, from Amanganj buffer area was tranquilized in mid-December and radio collared. The KBLP was the driving force for the government of India to sanction this project. The  WII is studying the territory of the dispersing tigers . But experts remind that, “Many tigers have been moving as far as Ranipur wildlife sanctuary in Chitrakoot  ( 150 kms from PTR) in Uttar Pradesh to Nauradehi sanctuary (175 kms) in Damoh district”. In both the cases, tigers have settled down there. “Instead of the study, the government should think of according the status of National Parks to both of these sanctuaries”, a senior official of the Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said, “The funds used  for satellite collaring of tigers may be spent in resettlement of villages from Nauradehi”, they  opined. Besides, they also need to work on the livelihood issues of these villagers, they said.

Also Read: UNESCO's "Hope for the Planet" Cry doesn't Gel with Ken Betwa Project

In May 2017, the expert forest panel of the environment ministry cleared the KBLP ignoring environmental concerns, including the diversion of around 6000 hectares of the best tiger habitat. About 1.8 million trees are to be felled for the project. Environmentalists see the KBLP as “ a disaster in the times of climate change”. “ The tiger rehabilitation in Panna was an unprecedented  success story. It has been a long journey for Panna tigers .In the last 11 years , their number increased  from zero to more than 50. All that will be drowned once the  KBLP begins”, experts observed. The environment ministry had already given “the so-called wildlife clearance to the project”, they said. The  Forest advisory committee (FAC), while recommending the project, observed that species such as “tiger, vultures and gharial are the key flagship species that are likely to be impacted by the project". It recommended a species recovery programme after assessing the population status, response to disturbance and habitat loss. The vulture and tiger tagging programmes are seen as a part of the same, experts said.

Also Read: From Unknown Tigress of Kanha to Mother of Panna:The Untold Story of T2

Where Do Vultures Venture?

Ken-Betwa Link Project, KBLP, Panna tiger reserve, GPS Satellite collaring, tigers in Panna, Wildlife Institute of India, All 14 tigers will be collared,

The  terrain  of  the  tiger  reserve  is characterised by extensive plateaus and gorges,  and  can  broadly  be  divided  into  three  distinct tablelands on  the Panna side of the Ken River: the upper Talgaon Plateau, the middle Hinnauta plateau  and  the  Ken  valley.  A  series  of undulating hills and plateaus rising on the other side of  Ken River in  Chattarpur  District  offers suitable  roosting,  nesting  and  breeding  habitat for  vultures.  The  vegetation  in  the  reserve includes  areas  of  mixed  dry  deciduous  forest interspersed with grassland .A concrete management plan for the conservation of the threatened species  would be made after studying the movement, habits and range of the scavenging birds of prey using the radio tagging. “The movement and habits of vultures and especially their capacity to travel accurately on a route and find suitable climatic conditions for roosting has been a matter of deep interest among researchers”, the said.“After radio tagging, the researchers  are hopeful of getting more information like how far the birds travel, how much time do they stay in a place for feeding or even roosting”, they maintained.

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