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Jailed in Jungle: Why Wild Tigress Languishes in Enclosure, Needs to Be Probed

Two years ago, two wild tigers were relocated from Madhya Pradesh to Odisha under India’s maiden interstate -tiger translocation programme which failed miserably. The two big cats were shifted  to Satkosia tiger reserve in Odisha after its tiger population plummeted  from 11 in 2004 to 2 in 2014. One of the big cats  Mahavir sent from MP was reportedly  killed by poachers while Sundari, the tigress, accused of killing two persons,  landed behind barbed wires in a small  enclosure raising questions over the  wildlife management in the country. Many wildlife experts in  India feel that the Satkosia fiasco should be probed and the people responsible for the plight of the national animal  should be held accountable. Condemned to Captivity Before Sundari was condemned to captivity in  Ghorela enclosure in Mukki range of of Kanha  National park,  the tigress had  already  spent an agonizing period of  28 months in captivity in Satkosia, where it was sent  to find a new home and help populat

Lesser Florican: MP Banishes the Bird Popular for mid- air Romance

Madhya Pradesh for Lesser Florican or Kharmore, Sypheotides, The shy bird, mid-air courtship gestures, State wildlife Board, Madhya Pradesh, Wildlife Boards,
There seems to be no place  in  Madhya Pradesh for Lesser Florican or Kharmore (Sypheotides) ,one of the most romantic but endangered birds of the planet . The shy bird, popular for  it's mid-air courtship gestures ,has been rendered almost homeless by the  state government.  The State wildlife Board - headed by the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh- recommended  last month de-notification of 348.12 sq km area of Sardarpur Kharmoresanctuary in Dhar district, home to Kharmore during its breeding period of monsoon till October. The sanctuary will now be shrunk only to about 16 sq km area. As the bird was being banished, ‘esteemed’ members of the Board looked as helpless as the threatened Florican before the powerful politicians. Though the State Wildlife Boards have the primary task to manage the conservation and protection of wildlife at the State Level, it seems to have worked contradictory to  its mandate . There was hardly any voice of dissent from its members who are empowered to exercise powers bestowed upon them under the Wildlife Act, 1972.

Madhya Pradesh for Lesser Florican or Kharmore, Sypheotides, The shy bird, mid-air courtship gestures, State wildlife Board, Madhya Pradesh, Wildlife Boards,
Along With Florican, Now Mahi River May also Affect

This step will not only further threaten the  bird,  it is likely to affect the origin of Mahi river, an aspect completely ignored and overlooked by the government. Mahi originates from Minda village in Sardarpur. Conservation efforts taken so far  were helpful in recharging the origin of the river. Post de-notification, digging of tube-wells and other construction activities are all set to endanger the river. In 1983 when the sanctuary was notified, it also included 348 .12 sq km area of 14 revenue villages. There was a ban on the sale and purchase of the land antagonizing the villagers. However, many experts believed it happened because of the wrong interpretation of the Wildlife ( protection) Act. There is a provision in Section 24 of the Wildlife Act to include private land in a sanctuary with full rights. “ It is the politics of votes .To appease voters, the government de-notified the land. Kharomore doesn’t  cast a vote and hence not important for the politician”, a senior  officer commented. The small bird, protecting the river so far, is known among ornithologists for it's unique aerial courtship displays. The spectacular expression in the air begins  with males puffing their neck and chest feathers, strutting around their territory, and watching keenly for any signs of a female. Romantic by heart, Florican attracts females from afar by hopping in air  and rises to 1.5 meters to 2 meters . Sometimes it happens  as many as 500 times in a day. But the mates are hard to come by , more so now because of   dwindling numbers. Once widespread and common but  now breeds in Gujarat, southeast Rajasthan, northwest Maharashtra, Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, and western Madhya Pradesh. The shape and the size of the bird is like a domestic hen, the male measures about 46 cm; and the female is slightly larger than the male and measures about 51 cm. Breeding male is black-and-white coloured with a tuft of narrow spatulate-ended up-curved black peculiar plumes projecting behind the head. Non-breeding male is similar to female, but with much white colour on its wings. 

Grasslands: Victims of Govt Apathy

Madhya Pradesh for Lesser Florican or Kharmore, Sypheotides, The shy bird, mid-air courtship gestures, State wildlife Board, Madhya Pradesh, Wildlife Boards,
In the last few decades, India’s grassland habitats underwent rapid degradation leading to decline  in the number of these birds . Thrown out from Sardarpur, Florican is scared of the whooshing sound emanated from the  large number of windmills   in Sailana sanctuary  of neighbouring Ratlam . No bird has visited  the sanctuary of Sailana for the past 2 years ever since the windmills were installed in the year 2017-18. The wind -farm with about 50 machines has also affected the flight of the bird. After the state wildlife board declined to give a go -ahead to the wind farming in July 2017, it's members were later made sign on  the dotted lines  to clear the project. One of the members later commented, “ The wildlife board is now  more like a project clearance  panel. We talk less on protection (of wildlife) and more on (business) projects”, he said. Now the government has initiated proceedings to remove more private areas from the sanctuary in Sailana too, due to this the sanctuary will shrink to a little more than 12 sq km area only.

Also read: It's Not Cheetah, the Fastest Animal on the Earth is Shaheen

Kharomore is endemic to India and found in tall grasslands, which are  victims of  government apathy. Grasslands are threatened by habitat loss, which are caused by human actions, such as unsustainable agricultural practices or overgrazing.  Interestingly,  the issues of conservation of grasslands  and protection of the bird were raised by  an organization that has nothing to do with wildlife . The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in 2019 submitted a report while seeking environmental clearance for permission to build an 8-lane road  near the sanctuary . What NHAI  had  recommended to the government should have come from the Wildlife Board, an official commented. The report noted, “Conservation of tall and thick grasslands, restoration of degraded tall grasslands, promoting organic agriculture and grassland development vis-à-vis agriculture, control of hunting, and avoiding installation of windmills in its habitat are suitable conservation measures for this species”. 


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