Skip to main content

Prep Before Cheetahs Become Free Ranging In Kuno National Park

  When another male cheetah, Obaan,joined the two rock stars – Freddie and Elton -- in yet another bigger enclosure of Kuno national park on November 18, only five female cheetahs remained in smaller bomas in the park where they were released on September 17. Like the three males, the five female spotted cats will also be released soon in larger bomas to run and chase their prey to kill. India’s  wildlife authorities accompanied by the experts from the cheetah conservation fund (CCF) from Namibia   have been taking utmost care and caution  before the  cheetahs in Kuno are ultimately made “free -ranging” meaning released in open to move around the entire length and breadth of the park. “Free ranging cheetahs and their monitoring  will be like a grand finale of the Project Cheetah to be played in Kuno for a longer  period in the coming years'", said a senior official of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFC&C).  Apprehensions, Concerns  on Chee

Ken-Betwa Project:Dam of Doom for Panna Tiger Reserve


As the two states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh signed the controvertial Ken-Betwa linking project (KBLP), considered as an environmental catastrophe, the cost of the trees proposed to be cut is anybody's guess, especially after an expert committee  report submitted in the Supreme Court recently. Besides, the best of tiger country will also be submerged and disconnected from the Panna national park which is all set to bear the brunt. All the good work of the tiger reintroduction programme in the tiger reserve is going to be flowed down in the project water. The number of tigers in Panna varies somewhere around 65-70 which includes 20 cubs.

 Priceless Ecology to be Submerged

A five member committee of experts for the first time set a guideline on the valuation of trees and  submitted a report in the Supreme Court in a case related to West Bengal where 356 trees were required to be felled. The committee told the apex court that a heritage tree with a lifespan of well over 100 years could be valued at more than Rs 1 crore. A tree’s monetary worth is its age multiplied by Rs74,500. The committee added that a heritage tree with a lifespan of well over 100 years could be valued at more than Rs 1 crore -- and that the monetary value of a project, for which hundreds of trees are cut, is sometimes far less than the economic and environmental worth of the felled trees. The total counting of trees in the proposed submergence area of KBLP has not been done but a sample survey by the state forest department has estimated that about 72 lakh trees above 20 cm girth at breast height would submerge in the national park area and this number may go up to about 12 lakh stems when young poles  and established sapling are accounted. “Equally high number of trees will be cut or lost in the forest areas outside the national park. Thus, considerable quantification of carbon stored as biomass would be released once the dam is constructed, in addition to loss of vegetation diversity.  Now, one can imagine value of the trees”, a government report said.

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

In the West Bengal case, the committee recommended ,in case trees must be removed, the first endeavour should be to relocate them, making use of modern technology, and if  there is no other option but to cut them; it also added that planting five saplings in lieu of one tree was not good enough since a 100-year-old tree cannot be equated with a few fresh saplings. It recommended that for a tree with small crown size, 10 saplings should be planted; 25 saplings for a tree with medium crown size; and 50 saplings for a tree with large crown size. Crown is part of the tree from which branches grow above the trunk. Can this be done in the environmental disaster that is all set to unfold in Panna ?

Cliffs and Gorges, all go Under Water

The project involves construction of a large dam at Daudhan village and a 2 km tunnel right inside the core area of  Panna tiger reserve situated in the semi-arid region of the Vindhyan mountain range spread over the Panna and Chhatarpur districts in the northern part of Madhya Pradesh. The terrain here consists of extensive plateaus, rocky cliffs, gorges, caves and rock crevices creating critical habitats for breeding and resting of the key species such as tiger, leopard, hyena, sloth bear and several species of vultures.

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

 The forests along Ken and its tributary form a significant part of the catchment area of the river. Ken Gharial Sanctuary and adjoining forests of the national park offer certain compactness of the habitat. All this is going to be submerged forever, an irreparable loss that can never be compensated.

Project or the Park ?  Shivraj goes for the KBL

"BREATHLESS- Hunted and Hounded, the Tiger Runs for its life", a book on tiger crisis released last year,  dedicated one full chapter “ The Drowning Panna and Dams of Doom” on the KBLP. The book said, “  Daudhan is the first dam which is all set to submerge the green- laboratory where the world's first ever successful experiment of tiger reintroduction plan was experimented and executed. The imminent submergence includes almost 90 sq km area of the Panna National park .This also includes the best of tiger habitat inside the park. Since independent studies have shown that the cost benefit ratio is next to par, given what will be lost, it is hard to see arguments in its favour.”

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

Referring to  the haste shown by  the Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan while presiding over a meeting of  the State Wildlife Board,  the book said , “ Regardless of stiff opposition from some non official members, the state wildlife board meeting in Bhopal in 2015 , the chief minister Shivraj Singh pushed the project. Amidst statements from one of the board ,"The nation will have to decide whether to have the project or the park, we cannot have both”, the CM opted for the project”.

In unequivocal terms, some board members opposing the project said, “ the project will mean the end of Panna”. The book also says that ,” At a time of  global warming, successive governments are still pushing the environmentally unviable  projects like KBLP, a scheme that is certain to spell death –knell for the Panna tiger reserve.``


Popular posts from this blog

Cheetahs In Kuno Kill Another Deer But The Real Test Awaits

After Freddie and Elton, the two male cheetahs, made their first kill in Kuno National Park making national headlines, the two spotted cats killed another spotted deer sometime on November 8 evening. Moving around the one square km enclosure, the fastest  land animal got some space to sprint  and  recover from the long confinement in small bomas - first in Namibia and then in Kuno. Like a fitness test, the deer hunting is taking place  inside  a  one square km fenced enclosure facilitating the cheetahs to  catch the cheetal (spotted deer) herbivore and kill. But this is being termed as  "cheetah project on the right track". The real test of cheetahs will begin when they are finally released in the open forest in the coming months to compete  and face the  ferocious  leopards and  packs of the wild dogs of Kuno,  officials of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFC&C) admit. Cheetahs Chase Deer Inside Enclosure The second kill in  Kuno's enc

Cheetahs In Kuno National Park : Future Tense !

Now a team of international scientists  and biologists have  questioned the  “incomplete”   cheetah action plan  with an unscientific   approach  relying on “  decade-old flawed  projections from Namibia”. Making a scathing attack on the translocation project of the iconic species in Kuno National Park , 8 scientists and conservationists write in an international journal that this may lead to “human –cheetah conflict. They “advised” to “prepare a revised science based” action plan. The Great Cheetah Divide The Cheetah Introduction Action Plan developed by the Wildlife Institute of India ( WII ) and the National Tiger Conservation Authority ( NTCA ) and of the Union ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFC&C). Many experts from Namibia and South Africa have supported the plan.  As controversy followed the cheetah translocation in Kuno national park, 8 cheetahs were released by the prime minister of India Narendra Modi on his birthday on September 17 this year. The

Why Cheetahs in Kuno National Park Are Linked with International Ivory Trade ?

      Controversy on India’s alleged compromise on its stand against the ivory trade to facilitate cheetah translocation refuses to die . It started long before Namibian cheetahs landed in India and released in Kuno National Park on September 17. After the recent media reports on the issue, the Union environment ministry issued a denial.  It said “a news report on Namibia seeking India's support for lifting a UN ban on trade of ivory as part of the cheetah deal "largely relies on speculation, hearsay and not on facts". But knowledgeable sources stood to the "compromise" theory.  Let’s find out why the cheetah translocation issue is linked with elephant poaching and  internaional ivory trade.  Why Ivory Trade was Banned  Huge quantity of Ivory is stockpiled in Namibia along with some other African nations. The ivory was confiscated after poaching of elephants in several African countries. The number of wild elephants dropped dramatically across elephant range st