Centre Puts Elephant Capture Plan On Hold

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KOLKATA: Buckling under pressure from the wildlife activists and NGOs, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has put on hold the plan to capture four wild elephants in Bengal for domestic use.

Elephant Human Conflict

New Delhi-based NGOs like Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the Wildlife Protection Society of IndiaWPSI) had taken up the issue with the MoEF, seeking more clarity on the elephant capturing plan.

Confirming the news, additional director general wildlife, MoEF, Jagdish Kishwan said that the plan has been put on hold. However, he refused to give further details. Chief wildlife warden in Bengal, S B Mondal, said that he has received a letter from the Centre on Monday stating that the plan has been suspended for now.

Permission for the elephant capturing was sought way back in 2000. But the MoEF on February 16 this year gave permission to the state to capture four sub-adult elephants from Dalma herd for captive use. Wildlife Trust of India’s conflict mitigation department head Anil Kumar Singh said they had sent a letter to the MoEF a couple of weeks back. “In Bengal, this is a major issue. And this happens due to large scale habitat loss for elephants. But capturing 4 elephants won’t solve the problem, rather it will start a bad trend,” he added.

Eminent ecologist Raman Sukumar, known for his work on elephant ecology and human wildlife conflict, said there has to be a detailed study before embarking upon such plans.

“The state should conduct a study on the routes used by the elephants, whether the forest patches are viable of holding the elephant population and identify the pachyderms which mostly lead the conflict. Unless these historical records are obtained, the entire effort to capture the elephants will remain half-hearted and won’t serve the purpose in the long run,” said Sukumar, who is also a professor with the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

Echoing his view, WTI’s executive director, Vivek Menon, said: “Elephant is a social animal and capturing four from a herd will only make them more aggressive. As a member of the elephant task force in 2011, I had suggested setting up of a conflict mitigation task force in Bengal with elephant experts and ecologists, who will track the elephant behaviour, routes they follow to migrate towards south Bengal, find the number of pachyderms entering every year, damage caused by these elephants and identify the rogue jumbos.

WPSI’s executive director Belinda Wright said the problem is not the elephants, but the habitat loss. “Sub-adult or young elephants are not responsible for the conflict. The depredation is led mostly by the big elephants. Even if the forest officials capture them, they won’t be able to train those jumbos,” Wright said, adding that she had taken up the issue with some experts in Sri Lanka, where the problem is very much prevalent.

In 1977, elephants were brought under the Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and such captures were made illegal. But the Centre, under Section 12 of the same act, can give permission for capture for population control and scientific research.

News Link:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Centre-puts-elephant-capture-plan-on-hold/articleshow/15499284.cms?intenttarget=no

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Maha model to curb leopard-man conflict

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SURATForest officials in Surat are planning to emulate the successful project implemented by the Maharashtra forest department to reduce the leopard-human conflict in Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Large number of leopards has moved out of forest areas and have made towns and villages in south Gujarat their homes, thus increasing the chances of conflict with humans.

According to Vidya Athreya, who is running the Project Waghoba in Mumbai, said that leopard density in south Gujarat and major parts of Maharashtra is higher than the dense forests of Aravalli mountain forests.

After Project Waghoba was implemented, there has been no loss of life of leopards or humans since 2007 in areas near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

V A Chaturvedi, chief conservator of forest (CCF), Valsad told TOI, “With the increasing population of humans and wild cats in the region, the conflict is not going to decrease. We need to take urgent steps to limit this before the problem becomes unmanageable.”

Till now, forest officials used to lay a trap and catch the leopards and then release it to the forest. Department officials confirm that in many cases the leopards that were caught and released in far away forests in the same area, returned near the urban habitat in few years’ time.

Read More:-http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/Maha-model-to-curb-leopard-man-conflict/articleshow/14118726.cms

Indian state to let forest guards shoot poachers on sight

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“AT last, they are taking the dwindling number of tigers seriously. Kill or be killed, or, sprag on those that do & earn yourself a nice little purse! Considering how little the hunters are paid, they would be better off grassing on the real killers!”

Maharashtra government says killing poachers will no longer be considered a crime after eight tiger deaths in the state this year.

A western Indian state has declared war on animal poaching, allowing forest guards to shoot hunters on sight to curb attacks on tigers, elephants and other wildlife.

The government in Maharashtra says injuring or killing suspected poachers will no longer be considered a crime.

Forest guards should not be “booked for human rights violations when they have taken action against poachers”, the Maharashtra forest minister, Patangrao Kadam, said on Tuesday. The state will also send more rangers and jeeps into forests, and will offer secret payments to informers who give tips about poachers and animal smugglers, he said.

India has about half of the world’s estimated 3,200 tigers in dozens of wildlife reserves set up since the 1970s. But illegal poaching remains a serious threat, with tiger parts sought in traditional Chinese medicine fetching high prices on the black market.

According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India, 14 tigers have been killed by poachers in India so far this year – one more than for all of 2011. The tiger is considered endangered, with its habitat range shrinking more than 50% in the last quarter-century and its numbers declining rapidly from the 5,000-7,000 estimated in the 1990s, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Eight of this year’s tiger poaching deaths in India occurred in Maharashtra, including one whose body was found last week chopped into pieces with its head and paws missing in Tadoba tiger reserve. Forest officials have also found traps in the reserve, where about 40 tigers live.

Tiger parts used in traditional Chinese medicine are prized on the black market, but dozens of other animals are also targeted by hunters across India. Rhinos are prized for their horns and male elephants for their tusks, while other big cats such as leopards are hunted or poisoned by villagers afraid of attacks on their homes or livestock.

Encounters are rare between guards and poachers, who generally hunt the secretive and nocturnal big cats at night, according to Maharashtra’s chief wildlife warden, SWH Naqvi.

“We hardly ever come face-to-face with poachers,” he said on Wednesday, predicting few instances when guards might fire at suspects.

Instead, he predicted that the state’s offer to pay informers from a new government fund worth about 5m rupees ($90,000) would be more effective in curbing wildlife crime. “We get very few tips, so this will really help,” Naqvi said.

News Link:-http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/23/indian-state-forest-guards-poachers

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