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Return of ‘Bagheera’ in the Mowgli land of Pench

In the Mowgli land of Central India’s Pench tiger reserve , ‘ Bagheera’  has returned. And this black leopard is attracting the attention of a large number of wildlife tourists. So far only a few lucky people have got a chance to see some glimpses of this elusive big cat, mostly wandering around the buffer zone of the jungle and also often visiting the core area. Despite the presence of  the star big -cats like Collarwalli, Patdev or L-Mark, there is a lot of buzz  in the park about ‘ Bagheera‘ too. Kipling Immortalises Black Panther Rudyard Kipling immortalized the black panther  –Bagheera. As a child Kipling lived in India and most of his stories are set in the country, though it is not entirely clear in exactly which part of the country.  The jungles that claim to be associated with Kipling stories include Pench National Park located near the district of Seoni.  Also read : Like Her Mother in Pench, Patdev Tigress delivers 5 cubs The park is also popularly known as Mowgli land and t

Red Threat on Tiger Census

Ahead of the ambitious tiger census in 2022, there are disturbing reports of disruption in the counting of the big cats in Palamu tiger reserve located in Jharkhand where  Naxalites have yet again threatened the tiger estimation work. Last year there were reports that the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) officials were allegedly taken hostage by the left wing ultras in Palamu when they were carrying out the work of setting up cameras in the jungle to capture the images of the tigers for the census. However, they were released later.  Palamu is not the only tiger reserve  in India facing the red threat. Indravati national park in Chattisgarh, now considered as a Naxal hotspot, and Similipal in Odisha are some other national parks where the Naxals  have affected the wildlife conservation projects. 2022 is an important year for tiger conservation as the tiger range countries – mainly the countries where the big cat is found  in South East Asia  and the Russian Far East - had  decided in 2010 to double the population of the tigers by that year.

Signs of Tiger Presence in Palamu 

The latest crisis in Palamu has emerged at a time when the park authorities were monitoring about five tigers in  the reserve.  But the exact number could be known only  after capturing the  stripes  in cameras . But  Naxals are opposed to setting up of the camera traps  fearing their whereabouts would also be revealed.   Both the state forest department and the WII personnel are reportedly reluctant in venturing into the deep forest fearing the left wing ultras. Palamu tiger reserve is spread over  Latehar , Palamu and Garhwa  and all these places are  considered as Naxal dominated pockets .  The forest department officials in Jharkhand said  , “ There is movement of tigers in Palamu but it is not recorded because there are no camera traps . Last  year the carcass of an aged tigress was found in Palamu contradicting the popular belief that there is no tiger left in the jungle.”  The officials said that in 2018, there was no tiger presence recorded in Palamu because “ we failed to access the whole jungle  .But this time we want to convince the naxals that the camera traps are not being set up to monitor their movement “. “ Though we can’t communicate with them directly,  we are trying to communicate through other channels”, they said.   

Also Read: Protect This Wildlife Corridor To Save The Ganges

A book  released in January 2020  explaining  the  tiger crisis in Palamu.  BREATHLESS : Hunted and Hounded, The Tiger Runs for Its Life , explained , “ In 2006,Palamu tiger reserve in Jharkhand –which falls under the Red Corridor-  was categorized  by the government as very good in terms of resources,  However, in 2010, it was put under the category of poor bracket. Furthermore in 2014 , the situation deteriorated  and the number of tigers  went down to three in the census. In the 2018 census, Palamu was declared as a jungle without tigers . The number of tigers was 42 in  2003.”

Palamu is a part of Bandhavgarh-Sanjay Dubri –Gur Ghasidas  and Palamu tiger landscape spreads over 25000 sq km  with a current tiger occupancy of 3844 sq km and a population estimate of 74 tigers. While Bandhavgarh and Sanjay Dubri are  located in MP, Guru Ghasidas national park is located in neighbouring Chattisgarh and the jungle  is  stretched upto  Jharkhand with regular tiger  movement from one point to other.

Maoist Menace in Indravati

Indravati national park in Chattisgarh  faces  a similar crisis. Part of  Kanha-Navegaon –Tadoba ,Indravati landscape is spread over 35000 sq km  with tenuous corridor connectivity , Indravati is situated in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh bordering Odisha. It derives its name from Indravati river . The park has been inaccessible to  the   state forest department because of naxal violence in Bijapur. Though some tiger presence is recorded in  the jungle,  the officials don't want to divulge the details for security reasons . 

Also Read: Future Tense: Turbulent Time Ahead for Panna Tigers

 In the neighboring state of Odisha, the Maoists arrived in Similipal wildlife sanctuary with a bang on the eve of the last Lok Sabha and state assembly elections . They unleashed a reign of terror inside the 3000 square kilometer forest reserve  repeatedly attacking tourists visiting the sanctuary. Situated  in tribal dominated Mayurbhanj district ,  Similipal wildlife sanctuary houses India’s fourth largest tiger reserve . Considering parts of Similipal have contiguous borders with both the naxal infested bordering states of West  Bengal and Jharkhand  Maoist presence is no surprise  in the region. Ten years ago in 2011,  the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)  had blamed the poor management of six tiger reserves on Left extremist. These tiger reserves were controlled by the Maoists.  They included Palamu (Jharkhand), Valmiki (Bihar), Namdapha (Arunachal Pradesh), Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), Indravati (Chhattisgarh) and Similipal (Orissa).  But  over a period of time situation improved a lot for some of them.

Comments

  1. Palamu and Indrravat shall be counted as a permanant loss for tigers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What on Earth are the authorities doing - or rather - not doing? "Reserve " means reserved for a reason, and here it is for the safety of wild tigers. NOBODY has the right to violate a reserve, and certainly not for political or social reasons. Why hasn't the army been called to evict the trespassers, and protect the National Animal. Is this how India protects its wildlife?

    ReplyDelete

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