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 | Dec 12, 2001



Hardly a week passes without the emanation of some distressing news that spells huge setbacks for wildlife conservation in the country. The regularity with which wildlife is being assailed by forces inimical to it, and the stark failure of agencies established to manage and protect it, makes it all the more traumatic.

This time the scene shifts to neighbouring Uttaranchal where two unconnected incidents give us reason to believe that the dismal track record of wildlife and forest conservation, which the nascent state has generated till date, is surely not on the upswing.

The incident that obviously needs first mention is the killing of two male elephants in the Rajaji national park two days ago. As it happened in Corbett national park during the culmination of last year and the early months of this one, poachers have been successful in intruding into the Rajaji national park and killing the elephants for their tusks. According to reports, this time the poachers did not resort to the gun, but used poison instead, to kill these tuskers near the Kunao forest range, close to the town of Rishikesh.

As usually happens in the aftermath of any disaster or crime, this incident too will be followed by routine motions like combing operations by a motley posse of security forces and forest guards, unconvincing sound bytes from people in the ‘know’, and a temporary ‘upping’ of the guard all around the state, before fleeting memory brings on relaxation to us, and respite to the poacher before he strikes again at our amnesia.

The other incident that has the future potential of delivering a deathly blow to Corbett Tiger Reserve, is the introduction of a public bus service between Kalagarh and Ramnagar via Jhirna, on the forest road lying in the southern boundary of the reserve. For starters, this bus has been assigned a single return trip on the 40-odd kilometre route, but the matter for concern lies in the fact that this road had been closed to public transport since it was taken over by the forest department subsequent to the relocation of villages at Jhirna and Kothi Rau in the early '90s. As a result, this area has seen a rapid return to wilderness, with tigers and elephants regularly frequenting it on their beat.

The extent of disturbance that public transport would bring in its wake for the wildlife of that area is positively going to border on the extreme. However, what is again a painful reminder of our own amnesia, is that it was only April this year when the Supreme Court had taken note of the tree felling on this proposed Kotdwar-Kalagarh-Ramnagar highway, and ordered restraint on further such activity. That order had been passed by the Court after it had been made to understand that this activity would be a long-time detriment for the Corbett Tiger Reserve, and the wildlife it contained.

Although that order was celebrated by all of us as a definite victory for wildlife conservation, but with the introduction of this bus service, it now seems that we'll live to see that advantage frittering away, as this highway comes into being. To the credit or discredit of the planners, it may be conceded that this route alignment is unfortunately much too direct and short for the Uttaranchal government to give it up - Corbett or no Corbett. What must have determined the ultimate decision in this issue was probably their contention that use of this route is ideally aligned to save Uttaranchal transporters and passengers from a longer circuit, and also pre-empts their use (and consequent tax liability) of the existing Uttar Pradesh roads between Kalagarh and Ramnagar. It is virtually established that if this issue of taxation were to be resolved, the need for using this forest road could have been kept on the back-burner, where it actually belongs.

And so the cookie crumbles for the wildlife of Uttaranchal. How unfortunate that it has to contend with silly, man-made boundaries between the states of the country, which render us so far apart