Just comcluded the 4 day Awareness Campaign, Deccan Adventure: Save Tigers of Sahyadri. This was a motorcycle rally over the Ghatmatha region.Over 150 participants, among them were 22 women
Just comcluded the 4 day Awareness Campaign, Deccan Adventure: Save Tigers of Sahyadri. This was a motorcycle rally over the Ghatmatha region.Over 150 participants, among them were 22 women
Yesterday morning between 10:30 & 10:45, I saw two pairs of Indian White-Backed Vultures within 20 km of each other.Last month on the 12th,I saw one pair,exactly at the same spot about 30 kms on Mumbai-Agra Highway NH3,southwest from Nashik. I am certain that there is a colony. We have decided to investigate in detail.
The Asian white-backed vulture has recently undergone a catastrophic population crash, which threatens the survival of this species. It is a medium-sized vulture , with the blunt talons and bare head that characterise this group of carrion-feeding birds. The wings are black, whilst the neck-ruff, rump and under-wings are white. The bare head and neck are black and the bill is silve
Name of the Participants:-
Date of Visit: –
16th June 2012
Tiger Conservation and Research Center, Mumbai had organized visit to Village Anuskura, Taluka Shahuwadi, District Kolhapur, Southwestern Maharashtra to investigate the reports of recent Tiger Sightings, there. This news-report was published in the local daily “Pudhari” April, 2012.
Our team, which included Vishal Kapadia, Aashish Pilani, Sourabh Parikh & Amit Kothawale, had carried out an early investigation & found sufficient ground for the truth in the report.
Location of Anuskura Village:
Anuskura Village is at 34km from the town of Malkapur in Kolhapur District. While, Anuskura is on State Highway SH 111; Malkapur is on Kolhapur Ratnagiri stretch of National Highway NH 204.
Geographical Introduction of Anuskura:-
Anuskura is in Taluka Shahuwadi of District Kolhapur,Maharashtra. It is last village of Kolhapur District on the south- west side. Just the couple of km away towards west, is the District Boundry of Ratnagiri. There is a territorial forest of Burha. The Chandoli National Park is approximately 45km away as the crow flies. The Dajipur Sanctuary is almost 75km away
The height of Anuskura is 600m from Sea- Level.
The village lies on 16°78’ North degree of latitude and 73°80’ East degree of longitude
Moderate weather, Heavy Rainfall
Kubhavade Minor Irrigation Tank
Five members of Tiger Conservation and Research Center, Mumbai , namely, Prasad Hiray, Jitendra Shirke, Prashant Rawal, Prakash Tamkhane & Mihir Nanal started from Nasik by a Toyota Innova on June 15,2012. The night halt was at the Government Rest House,Karad. Aashish Pilani, Devesh Bhagaria & Namit Gandhi came from Kolhapur in a Tata Safari on the next day. We all met on the morning of June 16, at the Check Dam near Village Anuskura. We were joined by the Forest Guard of the area, Mr.Shivaji Patil.
Here, we spent some time watching birds and also studying of diversity of flaura with some help from the Forest guard.
Semi Evergreen Forest contains Trees of Teak, Hirda. Gela, Jamun, Pisa, Fig, Anjani (Ironwood), Nana,Ain, Dhawada, Babhul, Henkal, Tamrind, Mango, Umbar (Devil Fig), Amla ,Asan( Indian Laurel), Katak, Harra, Kinjal, Kokum, Phanas (Braciata) etc. ; Shrubs of Karvand; Grass of Harli, Dongri.
Red soil of laterite rock
Report in situ
We went to the house of Mr.Rajendra Bane. Bane lives away the gaothan area on his farm. He has a herd of goats & a couple of buffalos. He seemed like a marginal farmer. In the month of April,2012, he had gone to look for his missing goat in the territorial forest. He was about 500 meters from his house on a hillock when he sighted a Large Animal, just at the edge of a thick bush. He turned back out of fright and called Mr.Prakash Patil on the mobile & asked him to come with him to see the unusual activity in the jungle. Prakash Patil, who is the local jungle expert hand, came to the house of Bane. Both of them, set out to the place, Bane had earlier withdrawn from. About 100 m away, they saw not one but two tigers. One standing had a larger head than the other. He assumed the other to be a female who was still sitting. The tiger growled slightly at the sight of these men. The men stood silently watching for 15 minutes. The sitting tiger then got up and walked into the thick forest, behind. The one with the large head followed the other. The men returned back to the village and nobody dared to enter that part of the forest for the next 2 days. There were no photos taken, no pugmarks located, no hair or scat found. The Forest Department investigated on their report and found no hard evidence. Bane did not get compensation for his goat, as there was no trace of it, neither being alive nor killed.
We met Prakash Patil, who is a man of about 30 years of age, but quite knowledgeable in the local forest. He has seen leopards quite often and seemed quite confident of distinguishing a Tiger from a Leopard. He repeated answered all our queries in the affirmative. His reason for not locating pugmarks was the rocky terrain. He did not have a mobile with camera.
We also interviewed the Lone Shopkeeper ———–, who runs a small establishment near Bane’s house. He reported that he had never seen a leopard, but has seen the Indian Gaur, all too often. And in large herds, too. He informed that owing to the menace of Indian Gaur, the farmers near his shop, have given up farming in this area close to the forest. The Gaur have repeated destroyed crops, year after year.
We visited the place of Tiger-sighting (Exact Co-ordinates N 16.780301, E 73.800058). The terrain is exactly like, it was described to us. There is a clearing in the forest of about an acre, from where the men stood up to the spot where the tigers were resting. The men certainly had a clear view of the spot from a distance of 100m.
Primary Findings:-No authentic proof is available in support of the sighting and hence presence of a tiger cannot be ascertained. For the tigers to be resting, there has to a waterhole in the nearby vicinity; there is none, here. The nearest one is a couple of kms away.
Nevertheless, the possibility cannot be ruled out. There is the right kind of forest & canopy cover available. There has been some tiger activity reported by the forest department in adjoining Barki Territorial Forest, and also near the Dam of Padsali. The ghat of Anuskura starts only about half a km down the road. This ghat descends right down into Talkokan to the village of Pachal. This section is thickly forested and has little or none Human Interference.
If we accept that the tigers were here, then one of Tiger was Male and the other a Female Tiger. There are 3 possible conjectures to it.
Out of sheer optimism, we believe that the Report of the Sighting is True & Correct.
Sahyadri is richer with two more tigers in the kitty.
Secondary Findings:- There is a major problem of Gaur Menace. Not only here, but in the entire, Kolhapur District. Sooner or later, there is going to be a conflict between man & wildlife in this area. Unless, the problem is assuaged, the wildlife will be net sufferer. Mitigation of Conflict is usually done by NGO. Such NGOs must come forward to the task.
Secondly, this area also illegally cultivates a narcotic plant called ‘Narakya’. It means ‘From Hell’. According to Prof. Bachulkar a noted botanist and renowned scientist from kolhapur This plant has anti carcinogenic properties.
The alchoholet camptothesic is derived from this plant.
The research was done in Germany and Japan on this plant.
In India we still do not have the technology to derive this component from Narkya. It was being illegally smuggled to Germany and Japan but due to enforcement and public outcry this practice has been controlled in the last few years. Contratry to popular belief, it is not used as a narcotic. Urgent steps must be undertaken to uproot this activity.
Lastly, the North Indian Poachers, mainly the Itarsi Gang of Baheliya Tribe, is operational in this area. There have been major cases of leopard-poaching registered & noted by the Forest Department in the recent months. These North Indian Poachers have been noticed to be active in Kolhapur, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg Districts. Hard intervention by Flying Squad of Forest Department as well as by all law enforcing agencies, is the need of the hour. A sting operation by Media can also help if the members of Press visit the Medicine Vans of these Shilajit People.
Chief Conservator of Forest
Kolhapur Wildlife Division
In continuation with our discussion about the Work that needs to be undertaken for habitat improvement and development in the Chandoli National Park, I am putting forth my suggestions.
I am certain these measures will go a long way in maintaining the wide variety of Flora & Fauna that this park has to boast.
Lastly, I can take liberty to say that the long term success of any Project Tiger is possible only through the presence of a strong & concerned NGO. Therefore, you could cultivate such NGOs to work alongside the Forest Department. Use of local media and NGO’s be increased to help forest department. Information sharing should be a continuous & ongoing process.
Please take whatever steps necessary to ensure a better planet for our children
For TIGER CONSERVATION & RESEARCH CENTER
Paper on Chandoli National Park,Project Tiger Sahyadri
Southwestern Maharashtra, District Sangli
Name of the Participants:-
Date of Visit: –
4th, 5th , 6th & 7th June 2012
On the occasion of Buddha Poornima i.e. VaishakhShuddhaPoornima, the Tiger Conservation and Research Center, Mumbai had organized visit toChandoli National Park to participate in the Annual Census being carried out. We used this opportunity tostudy on Present status of Biodiversity, there.Vaishakh (Mid Summer) Full moon night is the Night of the Wild-lifers.This year, it fell on i.e.on June 5, 2011
Location of Chandoli dam Wild Animal National Park:
ChandoliNational Park is 48km from the town of Karad in Satara District.Karad is on Mumbai Bangalore Nation Highway NH4. The Dam on Warana River is in the center of ChandoliNational Park. The ChandoliNational Parkhas been declared by Government of Maharashtra with the help of authority acquired in accordance with on Wildlife Conservation Act 1972.
Geographical Introduction of ChandoliNational Park:-
ChandoliNational Park is located at the westend of Sangli District, surrounded by three districtboundaries; one of Satara on the North, Ratnagiri on the West and Kolhapur on the South. It is West of Mumbai Bangalore National Highway No. 4. The National Park is 54km from the town of Karad in Satara District.The Dam on Warana River is in the center of ChandoliNational Park. Warana is a tributary of River Krishna.Krishna is one of the major rivers of India that flow westwards into the Bay of Bengal.The National Park is located on the both banks of ChandoliBackwater. This National Park has the natural protection by the way of ridge formed by the Sahyadri, the Western Ghats. It is situated at Deccan Peninsular Central —–Division. The Chandoli National Park admeasures to 314 sq km out ot 741 sq km of the Newly Constituted Project Tiger Sahyadri.
Height of ChandoliNational Park:
The height of ChandoliNational Park is 1900 to 3300 ft. from Sea- Level. The height of Sahyadri Mountain range is about 2100 to 4300 ft. approximately.
The park lies between17°03’ &17°20’North degree of latitude and
73°40’ -73°53’ East degree of longitude
Moderate weather, Heavy Rainfall365cm.
Villages relocated from the core zone
Chandoli(Khurd), Patharpunj, Mala,Jawli,Randiv, Siddheshwar,Chandel, Dhakale,Tanali, Tambave, Gave, Lotiv,Amboli, Nivale( Khurd),Lond,Tambave,Karde, Durgewadi, Nandol, wadidhumb,Zolambi,Bhogiv,Aloli,Ambole, Veti,ane
Villages yet in the core zone
Nivale, Gothane, Tambave,Khundlapur
Villages in the buffer zone of the park:-
Nechal,Nav,Gothana,Atoli,Humbarne,Paneri,Karle,Satar,Kasani,Jinti,Karle, Manadur,Ukhal, Udgiri,Bamnoli,Golivane,Parale,Maral,Nigulwadi,Kundi,Phansavale, Devale,Kinjale,Tivare,Nayari,Shringarpur,Pachambe,Ratambe.Pathe,Waghane, Nechal
Fourmembers of Tiger Conservation and Research Center Mumbai from Nasik, namely,ShashiKothule, Deepak Magar, PrashantRawal, PrakashTamkhaneleftfrom Malegaon for ChandoliWildlifeNational Park,Shirpur by a 4 wheel drive Toyota Fortuner. Prasad Hiray&HirenKhatrijoined at Malegaon for this visit toChandoliNational Park.AmitKhare reached straight Chandoli.From Kolhapur in another vehicle, came threeother participants namelyVishal Kapadia, AashishPilani, Ashwin Parikh.
All Participants assembled and stayed at the Forest Dormitory at Waranawati, near Village Manadur
Early in the Morning All Participants departed from Forest Dormitory House for Chandoli Dam. At first we traveled towardsVillage Mandur. This village is in the buffer zone of the Park and is always in the news for theGaur Menace to the crops.Then moved to words Chandolidam. At the Khundlapur gate of the Chandoli National Park we spent some time watching birds and also studying of diversity of flaura with some help from the Forest guards and also the Forester.
Information Collected on ChandoliNational Park:
Present Condition of ChandoliNational Park:
It is mainly a Semi Evergreen forest. It containsTeak,Anjan, Palas, Dhawada, Babhul, Henkal, Tumrind, Zose Apple, Kashid, MohaMyrobalan, Aapata, Salai, Tembhur, ArjunaSadada, etc. trees and the National Parkhas rich bio-diversity.
Moderate weather,Summer Temperature of 30ₒC, Winter Temperature of 10ₒC
Heavy Rainfall 365cm.
Semi EvergreenForest contains Teak, Hirda. Gela, Jamun, Pisa, Fig, Anjani (Ironwood), Nana,Ain,Dhawada, Babhul, Henkal, Tamrind, Mango, Umbar (Devil Fig),Amla,Asan( Indian Laurel), Katak,Harra,Kinajl, Kokum, Phanas (Braciata), MohaMyrobalan, Aapata, Salai, Tembhur, Mohir etc. trees;
Shrubs of Karvand;
Grass of Harli, Dongri,Bangala( Bluestem),Anjan (Buffel), Karad (Kangaroo Grass), Saphetand Kali Kusali( Tangle Grass).
From red soil of laterite rock of south-western deccantable- land. The Western Ghats area made from lava.Flat topped mountains, rocky, lateritic plateaus called ‘Sadas’, almost devoid of vegetation, large boulders and caves are distinctive to this range ofSahyadri region of the Western Ghats.
Nearly 23 species of mammals, 122 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians and reptiles are known to be resident in the forests of Chandoli.
Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Sambhar, Indian Gaur, Barking deer, Common Squirrel, Giant Malabar Squirrel ( Shekaru), Wild boar, Mongoose, Fruit Bats, Indian Civet, Pangolin, PorcupineRabbit, Titer, Bats, etc.
All Snakes;:Krait, Cobra, Ratsnake, Russel’s Viper, Saw scaled Viper, Indian Rock Python, Geko, Oriental Gardent Lizard, Crocodile,
Horn-Bill, Water- Hen, Peacock, Grey Jungle Fowl , Cuckoo, Owl, Woodpecker, Indian Mynah, Grey Hornbill, Pied Malabar Hornbill, Pied Robin, Chats, Eagle, Buzzard, Shikra, KaapshiGhar,Eurasian thickeni, Quail, Partridge,Long Billed Vulture,2varities of Kingfisher, the Common and the White Throated/Breasted, Indian Pitta, Paradise Flycatcher, Green BeeEater, Forest Owlet, Horned Owl
Revenue Villages: Nivale,Gothane, Tambave,Khundlapur
Illegal Colonies: None
Report in situ
On our wayto the gate of the park, we saw a Indian Gaur Bull.
We found little or no signs of tree fellinganywhere in the ChandoliNational Park. There are no encroachments or unauthorized settlements anywhere in the ChandoliNational Park.
This area has very little interference from human beings. It is rich in floral diversity. With the help from the forest-guards at the Khundlapur Gate of ChandoliNational Park, we did a survey of compartment——– and here we sawone Grey Jungle Fowl .We found a lot of marks of cattle-grazing all over the compartment area.. We did not see any wild animal in this area but as per the information of forest guard,Leopard, Indian gaur, Sambhar& Barking Deer& Wild Boar arefrequently seen in this area.One km after the gate, we saw a evidence of recent forest fire. We heard it was a kind of retaliation from the Khundlapur Villagers for the grazing offences registered by the Forest Department against them, including the Sarpanch.
Here onwards, we travelledback to the Chandoli Forest Office. There, we met RFO Mr. Gosavi. We also met the newly Arrested trekkers Inside of this ChandoliNational Park. We collectedmore information on the ChandoliNational Park from the records of this office andretired to our quarters for a shower.
June 5 & 6 :
24 Hour Watch on the Waterhole
Team at Zolambi, KarambaliNala
Fifteen Indian Gaur at 5:30pm
One Wild Boar
Five Sloth Bear
One Giant Squirrel
One Barking Deer
Team at TakaleGaothan
One Wild Boar
One Barking Deer
One Indian Pitta,
Two Jungle Fowl,
Team at TakalePani
Ten Babblers, Five Parakeet & Twelve Wood Pigeons all thro’ the day
Two Fruit Bats at 7:00pm
One Leopard at 2:30am
One Indian Civet at 4:30am
One Sambhar at 6:30am
One Jungle Fowl at 6:45am
One Peafowl at 7:00am
Ten Quails at 7:30am
Two Partridges at 7:35am
One 3striped squirrel at 7:45am
One Pied Malabar Hornbill 8:10am
One Rat Snake at 10:00am
One Forest Lizards at 10:30am
We found some pugmarks on the road.They were of Leopard & also of herbivore. Having taken fresh reading & discussing with the Forest Guards there, we were sure that these were the pugmarks of Gaur, Sambhar andWild boar. Surprisingly there were fresh pugmarks of two leopards, one smaller than the other. We took the POP cast of the large leopard. We also collected some scat of the leopard
One team departed in a Scorpio at 4pm for the Waterhole watch tower. They returned at 7pm. Unfortunately, they couldn’t locate their assigned place of observation. On the way to & fro, they sighted
1 barking deer while walking towards machan.
2 indian gaurs seen from the vehicle
A pair of barking deer seen from the vehicle
A pack of around 17 wild boar and then a pack of around 13 wild boar seen from the vehicle
3 rabbits seen from vehicle
A lot of bird sightings , especially ground birds like Jungle fowl , Patridge and quail seen in good numbers.
Team from Kolhapur departed after bidding us goodbye.
We departed for the park at 5:30am.After reaching the park we settled into 3 teams, each of three, including a forest Guard.
Distance travelled Animal sighted Distance from Angle of sighting
350m One Indian Gaur 20m 10 O’clock
500m One Indian Gaur 15m 2 O’clock
550m Two Indian Gaur 40m 2 O’clock
600m Eight Wild Boar 15m 3 O’clock
1200m One Jungle Fowl 30m 11O’clock
Line Nandol No.2
200m One Jungle Fowl
350m One Jungle Fowl
Line Zolambi : There were no sightings
After returning to the Forest Office, we handed over our reports & bid adieu to the CHANDOLI NATIONAL PARK.
Fact Report of Vadodha Territorial Forest
Taluka Muktainagar , District Jalgaon (North Maharashtra)
Date of Visit: –
5th & 6th April 2012
On April 5, 2012, the Tiger Conservation and Research Center, Mumbai had organized visit to Vadodha Territorial Forest with the purpose to conduct a study on Present status of Biodiversity, there. It is more in focus due to a resident Tigress, colloquially known as the Banana Tigress. The Tigress has been known to take shelter in the Banana fields around the Vadodha Territorial Forest.
Location of Vadodha Territorial Forest:
Vadodha Territorial Forest is at 19 km away from Mumbai Nagpur National Highway 6 and on North Eastern Side of Jalgaon District about 16 km away from Edlabad, now known as, Muktainagar. It is situated around Satpuda Mountain range – the Natural forest of Anjan and the catchments are of River Purna . It lies between Longitude 21°3’& 20°59’ North and Latitude 76°7’ & 76°17’East
Geographical Introduction to Vadodha Territorial Forest:-
Vadodha Territorial Forest is located at the north-eastern end of Jalgaon District, near the boundary of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and North of Mumbai Nagpur National Highway. Purna River is on the South side of Vadodha Territorial Forest and Tapi River is further away on the East. Purna is actually a tributary of River Tapi. These two meet from about 4km down-river from Muktainagar.Tapi is one of the two major rivers of India that flow westwards into the Arabian Sea. The other one being, Narmada. The Satpuda 2nd mountain range is forming the boundary of Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh.The Sanctuary is located on the right bank of Purna river. This forest has the natural protection by the way of River Purna, on one side and the Satpudas, on the other. It is situated at Deccan Peninsular Central Satpuda Michel Division.
Height of Vadodha Territorial Forest:
The height of Vadodha Territorial Forest is 700 to 800 ft. from Sea- Level. The height of Satpuda Mountain range is about 1100 to 1500 ft. approximately.
Hot weather: Temperature ranges between 46 Celsius in Summer & 6 Celsius in Winter. Rainfall 65mm. Wind speed is between 7 to 22 kmph. The highest wind speed is in the month of May
Total area of 1500 Hectares
9 Dams, each of the size of nearly 5 mcft
Visit to Vadodha Territorial Forest:-
Five members of Tiger Conservation and Research Center Mumbai namely, Prasad Hiray, Vinod Patil, Amit Khare, Prashant Rawal, and Prakash Tamkhane left from Malegaon for Vadodha Forest by a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Out of these five members, Vinod Patil, Prashant Rawal, Prakash Tamkhane had joined us from Nasik for this visit to the Vadodha Territorial Forest. From Jalgaon, came two other participants namely Ganesh Sonar, Ravi Sonawane. Ashwin Patil came from Amalner. Rohit Kulkarni & Hiren Khatri joined at Dhule. Close to Charthane, we saw a huge wild boar. Here, we met the RFO Mr. D.R.Patil.
Here onwards, we travelled towards Kurha Forest Office. We collected much information on the Vadodha Territorial Forest from the records of this office.
All Participants assembled and stayed at the Pagoda & the Machaan near Bhavani Temple at Charthana. Throughout the night, we watched out for wildlife & heard calls of a few barking deer.
Early in the Morning four groups departed from Pagoda at Charthane for Bhati Dam. Two groups travelled on foot while two went in 4 wheel drive vehicles.
We sighted a Chinkara and a Mouse Deer. We also noticed many pugmarks including that of a leopard. Also saw the skats of leopard. There was a family of Grey Hornbills on a Babhool tree. A wide variety of birds was seen along the way. At Bhati Dam, we spent some time watching water-birds and also studying of diversity of fish with the help of the locals. We met the Forest guards and also the Forester. We must the Sarpanch of Charthane Village. We collected information on Vadodha Territorial Forest from all & sundry.We sighted an Eagle and a Honey Buzzard near the Bhati Dam. On our way back to Charthane, we saw one more Chinkara.
Information Collected on Vadodha Territorial Forest:
Present Condition of Vadodha Territorial Forest:
Dry leaves falling forest. It contains mainly dry deciduous shrubs forest. It contain Teak Tectona grandis, Anjan Hardwickia binata, Palash Butea monosperma, Dhawada( Anogeissus latifolia ) Babul Acacia nilotica, Henkal, Ain, Kinjal, Jamun, Tamarind, Zose Apple, Kashid, Moha madhuca indica, Myrobalan, Aapta (Bauhinia racemosa), Salai Boswellia serrata, Tembhur, Tiwas, Arjuna Sadada (Terminalia Arjuna) trees and the Forest has rich bio-diversity.
Grass of Harli.Turati and Kusali.
Hot weather, Rainfall 65cm.
From black soil of basalt rock of southern table- land(Deccan plateau). The Satpura mountain- ranges area made from lava( these ranges are old than Himalayan ranges).
Following Mammals birds are said to be found in the Sanctuary:-
Mammals: Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Hyena, Indian Wolf, Fox, Barking deer, Chowsinga, Chinkara, Nilgai, Mongoose Common Squirrel, Mongoose, Rabbit, Titer, Bats, Mouse deer etc.
Birds: Peacock, common hock cuckoo, Eagle Owl, Spotted owlet , Maratha Woodpecker, Lesser white throat, Babbler, Ashy Prinia, Jungle prinia,Weaver birds, Chestnut shouldered Petronia,Sparrow lark, White browed fantail flycatcher, Indian Mynah,Rosey Starling, Grey Horn-Bill,Whitebresterd water- Hen, Dabchick, Spot billed duck,Brahmini Ducks, Spoonbill, Woolly necked stork Cormorant, Black, White as well as Glossy Ibis, Common Sandpiper, Long Billed Vulture, Bonellies Eagle, White eyed Buzzard, Honey Buzzard,Shikra etc.
All Snakes mostly Common Krait, Russell’s viper, Indian Cobra, Saw scaled viper, Indian Rock Python, Rat snake, Common sand boa, Red sand Boa Banded Kukri, monitor lizard, Fan throated lizard Termite hill gecko, Indian soft-shell tortoise
Revenue Villages: Charthane, Dolarkheda, Chinchkhede, Kurha,Nimkhede.
This is a thickly populated area with a large& organized farming community. They cultivate crops like Banana, Cotton, Maize, Jowar & Wheat. The community is a responsible one and much caring towards their forest. They have been keeping illegal grazing to the minimum. The rapport between them & the Forest Department is good. There is no conflict of interest between locals & the Deptt.
Report in situ
We did not find any signs of fresh tree felling anywhere in the Vadodha Territorial Forest. There are not many encroachments nor unauthorized settlements visible in the Vadodha Territorial Forest.
This Range has good vegetation; sometimes the canopy cover is quite good.
There is a good deal of wildlife activity, as can be seen by naked eye during the day. The 3 camera traps at the disposal of the Forest Department have captured wildlife activity, regularly. There is a Tigress, resident in this Forest.She has reportedly given birth to cubs, twice. One cub was killed near Dolarkheda by a Truck in 2009.There is no confirmed report of any Male Tiger in this territory. There is good enough prey base, as well as perennial water. This coupled with adequate canopy cover, could be an ideal habitat for large carnivores.
Most importantly, this could provide the much needed corridor for Tiger Movement for Tigers of Central India. In order to keep the gene pool of tigers, wide, conservation efforts must be undertaken asap.
*Coordinates (GPS Location):
1)21°3’26”N 76°7’45”E (Check post, Dollerkheda);
5)21 3’0”N 76°8’2”E(this and above all of regular activity places of tiger)
6)21°2’56”N 76°8’2”E(plenty foot print of Barking deer are found here )
8)21°3’31”N 76°8’41”E(Dolarkheda Village)
9)20°59’21”N 76°17’17”E (Kurha forest office)
10)21°3’17”N 76°14’19”E (Charthana Bhawani temple)
11)21°3’16”N 76°14’4”E (watch tower)
12)21°3’26”N 76°14’11”E (Lake near temple )
13)21° 3’36”N 76°15’21” (Bhati lake)
14)21°3’34”N 76°15’ 35” E (scat of leopard)
All saints of India have asked us to love trees & forests around us. They have praised the “Vanashree” the green cover around us and have raised it to the status of Gods. We have failed to respect it. God forbid, we may have to pay the price for it. Hope it is later than sooner. Most of us have felt and realized the effects of Global Warming. Root cause is the loss of green cover, resulting in depletion of the ozone layer. Every one of us holds the Government responsible & the Forest Department, in particular. We are not wrong. Prime responsibility lies with the Forest Department. If the Protected Areas (Sanctuaries & Reserves) are to survive, a paradigm shift is required in the functionality of the Forest department.
Ecological Value is more important that the mere Economic value.
The Forest department has always considered the Economic value is assessment of wealth as well as the damage to it. In short, when a Teak tree is felled, there is an shock felt in the ranks of the Department; not otherwise when Babhul is cut. The Teak smuggling makes news, but no one notices the Anjan Tree being slaughtered, everyday. The fines collected for Teak cutting is only discussed among the Forest Department. In fact, the ecological value of Babhul, Peepal or Anjan is at par with the Teak. Timber value should not be the determining factor for the action on the part of the Forest Department
Forest is not a source of revenue earning
In the British Raj, the Forest Produce was a one of the largest revenue churner for the Government. Timber, wood, coal, tendu leaf, bamboo etc were major contributors. Even in post independent era, the trend continued for some time. Nowadays, the revenue earned by the Forest Department is very little as compared to other revenue sources such as Excise, Sales Tax, Income Tax and other such Direct Taxes. But, the miniscule revenue earnings have a devastating negative impact on the ecosystem. India does not need funds earned through forest cutting, she needs the forest cover, drastically.
Grazing offences to be booked and not just fines be collected.
There are often illegal grazers caught in the act by the Forest Department. The Department collects fines from the illegal grazers and lets the Shephard go. After having paid the fine, the Grazer feels that it is now his right to use the Government Forest for as a grazing land for his livestock. He is not evicted, but feels further emboldened to carry on his illegal activities. In fact the fines so collected are so petty that it would not buy enough fodder even to last for the livestock an hour. In fact the fines collected during one year in the entire district by the forest department, is not even equal to the salary of one Forester.
The department must stop the practice collecting fines from Illegal grazers, at once. In fact, offences must be registered by the Forest Deptt and the illegal grazers face action in the court of law. The economic cost of putting up judicial defense will be sufficient deterrent for the Illegal Grazers. As a seasoned litigant, I assure you of that.
Grazing animals should be auctioned.
Every now and then the illegally grazing livestock is taken into custody. Main problem is how to look after the seized domestic animals after their seizure. The animals are let out because the Forest Department dreads having to look after these cattle or sheep. The Department is not entirely at fault. There is not enough cattle- houses to enclose these animals and that the lower staff is less inclined to engage into cattle rearing, even if it is temporary. Hence, there is the ready willingness to turn over the livestock back to the Criminally minded owner. The animals have to auctioned at the earliest after due procedure is followed. If there is even one auction conducted, in a Forest range, I guarantee that there will be little or no illegal grazing. I can site several such examples for your knowledge, where the grazing has stopped altogether, because of an auction.
Social Forestry needs to be considered in a different light altogether. The purpose for which the Social Forestry was founded is now, completely, obsolete. It was in the late sixties that a need was felt for social forestry. But over the years, the concept needs to be modernized. Haven’t we all switched to Maruti cars, then why is Social Forestry still driving around in the Fiats and Ambassadors? Is there anyone who claims that the Schemes of Social Forestry have been a success? It has been a total failure. Let’s all own up to the fact that Social Forestry has been a failure, till today. Let’s work out a better model. Nothing can be achieved without participation of People. I am sure there will be a better working model for rejuvenating the village forest cover.
We, as a society, must rise to bring about this change. It is only us who can help ourselves. Let’s not point fingers at others. If we bring about social pressures upon the policy makers, certainly they will give in. It is us who matter.
After all, whose planet is this?
Flag Off Ceremony of
Tue, November 1, 3pm – 4pm GMT+05:30
Sanjay Gandhi National Park
This is a narrative of my Visit to Aner Sanctuary alongwith my fellow wildlifers on the World Environment Day and the next.This visit was carried out for the purpose of preparing a Fact Report on Aner.Hope you like it.
We couldn’t have chosen a better day to make a visit to Aner Sanctuary, for it was the World Environment Day in the Year of Forest. How thoughtfully had UNESCO chosen the sloganForest: Nature at your service. There could be no better expression to describe the forests.Wouldn’t you agree?On this special World Environment Day,our organization,Tiger Conservation & Research Center had organized several programs at various places such as Mumbai,Nasik,Malegaon,Lasalgaon & even in my hometown of Nimgaon. Our fellow-wildlifer & the Secretary of the Center,Mr.Amit Khare had organized the first program in the wee hours of the morning.The program was to plant some saplings at the Samaadhi of his Grandfather.This Samaadhi is right on the College Road of Malegaon.Since the program was at 7am in the morning on a Sunday, I thought I could make Best of both worlds. Meaning, I will attend the Tree Plantation Ceremony at 7 & then proceed for a game of Tennis.If you are a Tennis player, you know how you don’t want to miss out on a good game on Sunday morning.I arrived at the venue wearing Tennis Shorts & a T Shirt.Teacher comes to rescueThere were quite a few people already there.I joined them & waited.But as most functions in India do,this function only began late at 8:30am.Shortly there was an announcement that the Chief Guest & all Guests of Honour had arrived, and that the function was about to start. I was paying Homage to Amit’s Grandfather when the Master of Ceremony announced that the Chief Guest of the function, Mr.Hiray is requested to be seated on the stage.I was struck by a thunderbolt.1000000000 volts.I was the Designated Chief Guest.When Amit had invited me for this function on the week before, I had promised to attend instantly. Amit being a very close family friend had not bothered to send in an official invitation.Here I was, the Chief Guest dressed in shorts & T shirt. I almost drowned in my own shame.There was a teacher of mine who was a Guest of Honour. On the pretext of paying respect to elders, I seated the old teacher in my place and took a not so conspicuous seat among other Guests.Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Gururdevo Maheshwara Guru Sakshat Prabrahma Tasmahi Sri Gurave Namah.I put in a request to the organizers that I should be allowed to speak first since there were other appointments. Little did they know that I was stretched in embarassment & not in time.After the tree plantation ceremony, I stood in front of an elite & elderly audience and spoke about the need for our commitment towards preserving Mother Earth. The audience could clearly see the message.A Chief Guest prepared ot miss his Sunday morning game of Tennis in favor of a function on the World Envirnment Day.The moment I finished the Speech of Enlightened Embarassment, I literally ran away from there.Since I was already perspiring out of shame, my Tennis Partners allowed me center-stage again.I finished a good game of tennis.Taking out all my frustrations on the tennis balls, me & my team blasted our opposite team in the game. I rushed back home for a quick shower, I had to attend the next function at 10 am.Hardly enough time.I reached the venue of the next function after quite a few threatening calls from my team who had organized the next function.All the dignitaries,including the Tehsildar had arrived at the function.At least I was dressed approprately now.Intense Speech & Intense AudienceAfter we planted a few more saplings, we were seated in the auditorium. Another fellow wildlifer,Dr.Satyajit Shah spoke so eloquently about Conservation.He spoke on the Causes & Cures for the Dwindling Ecosystem. The speech was really intense in terms of context & content.After Dr.Shah, a Team of Friends of Snakes reached the dias alongwith live snakes. Any snake, poisonoius or not puts the awe in you.The audience is in fact human. Mr.Maheshwari the leader of these Friends of Snakes spoke for over an hour about snakes & shared his experiences,including that of a poisonous snake bite.All this while the audience was focussed on the movements of our slithering friends.Intense Audience,indeed.Post lunch, the team of TCRC,including myself left on a Fact finding mission in Aner Sanctuary.Aner Sanctuary is at the North end of Maharashtra.Aner is actually a river, a tributary of River Tapi.Tapi is one of the two major rivers of India that flow westwards into the Arabian Sea.The other one being Narmada.The Aner river is also forming the boundary of Dhule & Jalgaon Districts of Maharashtra.The Sanctuary is located on the west bank of Aner river. We, later came to know that this sanctuary has natural protection by the way of two ridges being formed by the Satpudas.By the way do you know that Satpuda means seven sub-ranges of mountains, spreading over four states.On the southern side is Maharashtra, west is Gujrat,North is M.P. and East is Chhattisgarh. Aner Sanctuary is between 2nd & 3rd sub-range.Historically,there are many incidences of Tribal Unrest in this region.In fact, the British have been very ruthless in crushing these rebellions.I am pointing this out because I would like you to understand the region Geographically as well as Historically, not to forget sociologically.If you remember the the attack on my friend,Baba Mahahans, then you would not blame me for carrying weapons into the sanctuary.It is not only my security that mattered but also that of my fellow team members.I carried a firearm along.We were on a fact finding mission and facts can be unsavory.So,I along with Amit & a new member,Abhijeet Belan, finally started from Malegaon. Abhijeet, by the way, is an authority on Hill forts of Maharashtra.At the age of 32, this guy has covered almost 85% Hill forts in Maharashtra. Being so young,he had a variety of queries, some of which I would deal with later in this write-up.We reached the town of Shirpur at about 5.30pm. We went to visit a dear friend of mine, Mr.Rahul Randhe.He nurtures a Gandhian Organization,which was started by his Grandfather,Freedom Fighter Late Vyankatrao Randhe.Their Trust runs quite a few educational institutes in the tribal area, particularly that of Satpudas.They were quite happy to receive a Family Friend. While discussing the purpose of our visit,Mr.Randhe mentioned that at his Hometown of Boradi, there was a Tiger sighting earlier this year. On further querying, he made a few phone calls & informed us that this Tiger sighting took place in March.Suddenly, the eyes of my friend,Amit, lit up. Was this the Savkheda Tiger? The days were immaculate.The sighting of Savkheda Tiger was only a five days earlier.Boradi is about a 100km away from Savkheda as the crow flies.A Tiger could travel over 25km in a day. Amit Khare’s mind was made. We had to go to Boradi.I decided to extend my friend Rahul further. I told him that we would reach Boradi tomorrow & join him for lunch at his place.We dropped my associate,Mr.Prithviraj Thakur to do the ground work at Boradi.After a refreshing cup of tea,we started for Aadgaon near Chopda, our place of night halt. At Aadgaon, my friend, Mr.Vijayanna Patil had arranged for dinner.Mr.Ganesh Sonar, a noted Ornithologist from Jalgaon joined us alongwith Mr.Ashwin Patil. Both these wildlifers came from long distances by bus to join us on this mission.Our team from Nasik announced their arrival at Shirpur.They waited for us at the Highway Fueling Station.Aadgaon & post Aadgaon
When I had called Vijayanna a week before, informing him of our impending visit, I had told him that we would be a large group.Vijayanna is not only very kind but very generous.He told me that I could bring along as many as I would like.This is really a statement.As many as I would like.We were quite a few.Two SUVs completely full.On the count, we numbered 13. Vijayanna called at 1930 hrs to check our whereabouts. I informed him that we had just started from Shirpur & also told him that we were 13 of us. Vijayanna only asked us to come as early as possible. For our new readers’ benefit, I say at the risk of repetion that If you have not experienced a Gujar Patil Hospitally, you have missed something in life.By the time, we reached Vijayanna’s House it was 2100 hrs.Vijayanna’s house is ‘Gadhi’. a fortress on a small hillock. On a clearing in this house, we had 5 tables laid out in the open for the guests. We all were greeted with bouquets of local flowers &were asked to be seated. The entire ground was lit with Halogen lamps and was showered with the Natural Blossom of the Garden.The ground also smelt of sweetness of wet sand, as the Master has it sprinkled with just enough water.It was almost a couple of days past the no moon night.Beautiful setting indeed.Nobody could have asked for more.Suddenly, there was a sharp call of a peacock. All us wildlifers, literally jumped in our chairs. In the wild, a peacock calls only when he senses a tiger on the prowl. I am sure, the peacock had only seen us. I beg you to take this comment lightly. Vijayanna informed us that these were resident peacocks in his territory & almost domesticated. These large birds had made their homes in a large tamarind tree in the same premises.We were served with starters.Among various types of paapads, pickles & salads, there were some fried pieces. I asked what they were. Vijayanna’s brother informed that Vijayanna had personally gone to the Market today to get this fish, which is considered a delicacy in this area. This fish is endemic to this region only & is called ‘Ek Kathi’ owing to the lack of bones in the fish.He further informed us that even the cucumber that was served with the salad was personally checked by Vijayanna. Vijayanna coyly remarked that he was only being in the role of Shabari. I, alongwith all my comapnions, was floored indeed. This man had checked every cucumber that was to be served. This was really the height of hospitality.We turned our attention to this fried fish. Outstanding Truly. I have eaten Sweetwater fish from everywhere. This really is the best Sweetwater fish of all. Even, the Maral is second best to it.We helped ourselves to the max.The Lady of the house was in a good mood. She had been blessed with a male Grandchild. I met Sheetal,the mother who is a Doctor and an aspiring Gynecologist. I offered my good wishes to both, the mother & the child and joined my companions. Everyone was in a good cheer.The fish was followed by more snacks,including some dry chicken. I asked for the main course to be served as it was getting late & we had to make an early morning detour. The chicken curry of Country Fowl was the highlight of the evening. No matter, how hard we tried, warm food kept pouring out of the kitchen. Now, you know what I am talking of hospitality. Having helped ourselves to a butterscotch ice cream, we decided to call it a day.I bid adieu to all the Patils & got started for Chopda.The Government Circuit House at Chopda is in the midst of ancient trees.By ancient, I mean 200 to 250 year old trees.Banyan,Peepal,Tamarind,Neem. While I was busy taking on the chowkidaar about the rooms, my companions noticed a colony of Spotted Owlets in the ancient trees.They got some amazing photos of these animals, alongwith their nesting hollows.When the commotion had died at both the ends, we decided to retire after a briefing by me.Please read carefully ” when the commotion had died at both the ends “. I was taking on the chowkidaar while my friends were taking the photos of the owlets; the two pairs of the owlets & us humans, each. Everyone was assigned their duties for tomorrow and Curtain was drawn for the next day.It was a night to remember & a night to forget. I am sure you all have experienced the Summer at its worst, but tonight was remarkable indeed.The room had two fans each.The windows were wide open.But it was not enough. The night was so hot, I just couldn’t sleep.Tossing & turning in my bed, I held ground till 2am. Thereafter, I could take no longer. I walked out into the compound of the Rest House, barebodied.wearing only my shorts.I was doing the rounds of the rest house premises for over 1/2 hour. I found a cooler spot under a tree & lay down there. An army of ants descended upon me from the tree.I woke up with the insects all over me.When I get free from them, I chose a wiser spot under the far end of the porch. I parked myself there.At about 3 am, I saw one of our team,Prakash Tamkhane walking around in a sleepwalk.He didn’t notice me and I decided to let him be.I was only being cruel.Shortly,I saw some of my companions, doing the same thing.Every few minutes,there was somebody doing the scrutiny of the rest house & grounds there around.Each being sure that it was just him who was so miserable.When the dawn finally arrived, most of us were completely aroused. Nobody really needed waking up. At the 0600 hrs, we got into our vehicles,fully bathed & a little sleepy. we met the forest department team at a village before the forest gate.They waited with bottles of mineral water & had woken up the village tea vendor.After a Khir-tea, we reached the Aner Dam alongwith the Forest Guards in toe on a motorcycle.The morning was tranquil and humid.The forest guards explained the bearings of the forest to us. I have explained them to you earlier.We walked the length of the dam.There was a group of fisherfolk waiting for the morning catch.We took our chances and inquired with them about the wildlife.Our gameplan was to check if they had any Ek-kaathi fish on their nets.To our pleasant surprise they did.We struck a bargain with them and took some readings & observations, not to forget their catch of Ek-kaathi.Bright New CompanionsWe left the dam site to get the better insight in the forest. Just then, we met two young men on foot.These two guys looked like wildlifers as the had camouflage clothes & cameras round there necks.They waved for us to stop. We stopped & inquired about them.The people from our convoy immediately recognised them.One of them was a Ornithologist, Mr.Hiren Khatri & the other being, Mr.Rohit Kulkarni,a serpentologist. These two youngsters had got the news of our visit to the Aner Sanctuary and had come to join us. To do so, these tenacious young men had travelled 4 kms on foot to get to the spot in the Aner Dam Sanctuary, where we were likely to be in the morning.. Hats off to them. It is because of such men that India has any hopes in preserving the Flora & the Fauna.We gladly welcomed them in our already full vehicles.From here we traversed the entire breadth of the Sanctuary.The villages in the Sanctuary are very large.Each has a large population of live stock.We visited all 5 villages falling within the park.As these villages are in the park for a long time,their population has done all kinds of encroachments.They have cleared large tracts of forest for farming. All you see in this forest is bare landscape with little or no vegetation.The forest guards informed us that there is very little wildlife here.We could clearly see why.Mankind & Wildlife have failed to live together harmoniously. The Sanctuary is clearly a case for critical wildlife habitat.We inquired about the hearing held by the Chief Conservator of the Forest under critical wildlife habitat. The villagers have given their charter of demands in case they are to be shifted.The Van-adhikaar Committee of each village had their own agenda and were reluctant to make any amends.The Sarpanch of every village was quite sure that the demands would be acceded by the Government.We took our notes at every point & met as many people as possible & recorded their interviews.The situation seemed rather grim.From this pocket we moved to the Sulya pocket which is closer to the National Highway. In fact the National Highway is being diverted to byepass the Sanctuary.Currently it is passing through the Sanctuary.The Sulya Range has much better vegetation, sometimes the canopy cover is quite good. We found some pugmarks near a waterhole.They were of herbivore, mostly.Having taken fresh reading & discussing with the Forest Guards there, we were sure that there were some Chinkara, Chowsingha & possibly some Sambhar, some wild boar.We had to meet Mr.Kulkarni who was earlier the RFO here & had just recently retired from Government service.This man traveled from Dhule to meet us. I had heard a great deal about this officer & was keen to meet him to get a closer account of the things,here. We were not disappointed. Mr.Kulkarni is a genuine person & a dedicated officer.He informed us that he had actually got only two years in this forest & that he was prepared to take all the possible troubles if this forest could be saved.It was a really reassuring remark.If he had hopes, then all was not really lost. He informed us on all the aspects of various issues concerning this forest.He also gave us a lowdown on the current situation & what could be done short term & also long term for preservation of this wilderness.The new RFO, luckily, came just then. He assumed charge of his posting just as we were talking to Mr.Kulkarni. He didn’t have much knowledge of the Sanctuary & was quite naive.We only made introductions with him & wished him good luck.Having collected some maps & other documents from his office, we assembled the Forest Guards for a moral boosting session.We assured them that they were not alone in this fight against the Jungle Mafia and that we were just the tip of the iceberg of humanity that cared for them & the forest.I don’t know how much we succeeded, but the salute I got from them & the sparkle in their eyes made my day.I was happy I made this trip.Prasad Hiray
Tiger Conservation & Research Center