after kaziranga high, pakke low

Big cats hit a low in Pakke sanctuary
- Clouded leopard on camera in tiger reserve for first time
Guwahati, July 29: For tiger lovers in the Northeast who were on cloud nine after Kaziranga’s success, Pakke tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is a bit of dampener.
Pakke has recorded a density of only 1.9 tigers per 100 square km compared to Kaziranga’s tiger density of 32 per 100 square km, the highest in the world.
Three months ago in April, Kaziranga had recorded the estimated highest density, overtaking the previous highest recorded density of 19.6 tigers per 100 square km found at Corbett Tiger Reserve.
However, the good news at Pakke is that the density of tigers is up slightly from the 1.15 per 100 square km recorded in 2006. Besides, a clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) has been captured on camera for the first time in the reserve.
However, Jimmy Borah, senior project officer, Tiger Programme, North Bank Landscape, WWF-India, who carried out the camera trapping along with others, said, “Looking at the terrain and the habitat, the density of 1.9 tigers can be considered good enough”.
He said the density at Pakke was similar to other tropical semi-evergreen forests in Southeast Asia. The usual density of tigers varies from 3-12 tigers per 100 square km in the tiger reserves in the country.
The WWF-India carried out the tiger census in collaboration with Arunachal forest department. Automated cameras were used to capture the photographs of wild animals.
The effectively sampled area for camera trapping was 261.81 square km of the reserve’s total area of 862 square km. The camera trap was laid at 30 locations in both Sijusa and Tipi ranges. The census was carried out from February 4 to March 30 this year. “Large areas of the park have still not been covered as they are inaccessible,” an official of Pakke tiger reserve said.
On the camera trapping of the clouded leopard at the reserve, a WWF report stated, “This very beautiful and elusive cat is reported in the landscape from various places of Arunachal Pradesh but its status is not well documented. Change in land use, encroachment into forest areas and hunting of the animal for its pelt, are the main threats to the survival of the species. There is a need to design a long-term conservation plan before its population reaches a critical level.”
The Pakke tiger reserve lies in the foothills of eastern Himalayas in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. It is home to over 2,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, 30 species of amphibians and 36 species of reptiles. It is one of the last remaining strongholds for many globally threatened species of flora and fauna.
Pakke (earlier Pakhui) was declared a reserve forest in 1962, a wildlife sanctuary in 2001 and a tiger reserve in 2002. The Centre had sanctioned Rs 210.35 lakh under Project Tiger in the 2009-10 fiscal to improve infrastructure in the reserve.

stork gamosas now!

Gamosa in ‘save stork’ cry
- Kamrup artisans weave conservation message on to cloth
Guwahati, July 22: Artisans in a Kamrup village are raising silent conservation slogans with a spool of thread, weaving motifs of the greater adjutant stork into gamosas to remind the user that there are only 800 of them left in the world.
Of the 20 stork species found on the planet, the greater adjutant is the rarest, confined mainly to Assam and Cambodia. Eighty per cent of the bird’s global population lives in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam and Kamrup district is home to 50 per cent of them.
A research team of Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation in the Northeast, arrived in Dadara in Kamrup district in July last year to mobilise community co-operation for conservation of the nesting colony of the greater adjutant stork species.
“With frequent interaction and motivation efforts, the villagers began understanding the importance of the bird species to the ecology. They have started taking pride in the fact that theirs is one of the few places on earth where this important variety of stork is found,” said Purnima Devi Barman, the leader of Aaranyak’s research team.
Villagers have now become so fond of those storks that they have started flaunting their presence in whatever way they can.
For instance, a team of weavers led by Sanju Saikia has started weaving the motif of the bird on gamosas (traditional Assamese towels) under the guidance of Purnima Devi.
“Professor Stephen Garnett, director of School of Environmental Research Charles Darwin University in Australia, was overwhelmed by the stork motif on the gamosa presented to him when I met him at Albarta University in Canada during a conference earlier this month. We are now planning to help and motivate Dadara weavers to weave bedsheets using the stork motif so that their love for the bird can provide them with a source of earning too,” she said.
Dadara, she feels, can also be promoted as a tourist location to highlight the community’s involvement in ecology conservation.
She admits that only a few weavers are involved now and they have not yet tried to sell the gamosa in the market.
“We are planning to orient the weavers of Dadara on the issue and to encourage them for production of other things like bags and wall-hangings with stork sketches,” she said.
Though the bird species is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in India, its habitats (nesting colonies) are not protected.
As these storks build their nesting colonies on trees grown on private land, conservation efforts become futile without the co-operation from the community concerned.

manas--common for india and bhutan

Manas shakes Bhutan hand for animal vigil
- Neighbouring parks agree on trans-border conservation to track movement of straying inmates
Guwahati, July 2: India will no longer have to worry about diplomatic hassles when wayward rhinos saunter into Bhutan, with two national parks on either side of the border agreeing to trans-boundary conservation.
The Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan and Manas National Park, India will henceforth co-operate to track the movement of animals in their contiguous areas.
The move should come as a huge relief for park officials who have spent agonising days trying to trace animals.
In 2008, a “prodigal” rhino strayed from Manas National Park and walked for over a fortnight to reach the Bhutan border, 100km away.
When the animal was finally tracked down following a tiresome search, what worried park authorities most was that had it stepped into Bhutan territory, “things would be complicated”.
“Bhutan has now agreed to join hands for trans-boundary conservation,” A. Swargiari, field director of Manas National Park, told The Telegraph.
To the north of the sanctuary is the Royal Manas National Park.
While Manas India has an area of 500 square km, that of Royal Manas is 1,057 square km.
River Manas that connects the two parks is an integral to the topography.
Tenzi Wangchuk, park manager of the Bhutan park, said the project would kickstart further trans-boundary work.
Both the park authorities are now looking out for funds for the project.
Several meetings have been held in the past to discuss trans-boundary co-operation.
“We will soon work out modalities for carrying out work jointly,” Swargiari said.
Authorities said officials of both parks share a good relationship and regularly meet and even share resources at times.
The World Heritage Committee, too, said this co-operation was highly valuable and even necessary for conservation of animals, for which Manas was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Manas National Park contains 22 of Schedule I mammals and at least 33 of its animals are listed as threatened. Royal Manas in Bhutan has 58 species of mammals.
Wangchuk said Manas India should work on better co-ordinated and frequent patrolling, good road network along the border areas for faster and better movement, implementation of livelihood projects to help the poor, thus reducing their dependence on natural resources.
“Disturbance on the Indian side affects us and it is time that we work together for the benefit of both sides,” Wangchuk said.