Website by AQEEL FAROOQI  



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Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years

 WILDLIFE WINDOW | Aqeel Farooqi

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | February 6, 2002


Wildlife management needs rapid response units

One of the primary prerequisites of good wildlife management is the deployment of rapid response units at key points, which should be geared to tackle sudden emergencies that may crop up at any time in our national parks or wildlife sanctuaries. Most of these emergencies have their genesis in cases arising out of man-animal conflicts, which have tended to increase with shrinking wild habitats, and encroachments into forests by the burgeoning human population living on peripheral areas.

Unfortunately, our wildlife management agencies were recently found wanting in two recent incidents which occurred almost simultaneously one in Bijnore forest division of Uttar Pradesh and the second in the Rajaji national park in Uttaranchal.

In the first case, a young leopard was found trapped in a wire noose set up by a poacher in the forests of Bijnore district. Considering that the leopard was alive when discovered, it is obvious that the noose was not fatal, and all that was immediately required was to immobilise him with a dart, and set him loose. But darting needs a tranquilizer gun, which was not available with the department at that time. By the time it was procured, sufficient time had elapsed for the leopard to injure himself in his struggle to get free, and that necessitated him to be transported to Lucknow for veterinary attention. Coupled with the injuries that he sustained in the trap, the trauma of transportation from Bijnore to Lucknow in a truck was enough to kill him by the time he arrived.

In the second incident that occurred on the night of 24-25 January, a train hit an elephant calf on the railway line between Haridwar and Motichur railway stations in Kharkhari beat of Rajaji national park. The impact of the accident did not kill the calf immediately, but tossed him next to the railway line, injured and immobilised. The distraught mother elephant refused to budge from his side, and all efforts to distract her by noise or a water cannon remained futile.

Again, what was needed here was to tranquillize her, so that a vet could approach the calf, and attend to his injuries. However, in this case too, the tranquilizer gun was unavailable since the Wildlife Institute of India vet the only person who could have been called on to dart the elephant, was out of town with the gun, to perform duty at the Republic Day parade in Delhi in which elephants and other animals were participating. In the absence of any other wildlife trained vet in the Rajaji national park, vital time was lost and the calf succumbed to his injuries.

Both these incidents are indicative of the urgent need for the forest departments of both states to review the response time that they take to handle wildlife crises that arise in their respective spheres of control.

The state of Uttaranchal, with its valued possession of huge forest tracts, more than 100 tigers, several hundred leopards and elephants, should not dither in procuring trained wildlife vets and an adequate number of tranquilizer guns to meet such eventualities in the future.

Closer home, the events leading to the death of that leopard trapped in Bijnore, and more recently the death of the chimpanzee in the Lucknow zoo, are stark reminders that we still have a very long way to go.