manas india asks manas bhutan for help
Manas invites Bhutan envoys
Guwahati, Dec. 29: When two civil administration officials from Bhutan came to take a look at the two female rhinos in Manas National Park today, it was clear that the neighbouring country also has a role to play in wildlife conservation.
Wildlife knows no boundaries. As both the parks are contiguous, wildlife often crosses boundaries and then it becomes the duty of the country concerned to take care of them.
“Royal Manas National Park shares its boundary with Manas National Park and the former has a role to play in wildlife conservation. They have to act responsibly also,” A. Swargowari, field director, Manas National Park, told The Telegraph.
Both the parks have already started working on transboundary conservation and, in fact, the first pictures of wildlife in Manas is a result of this project.
The officials had come from Panbang, which is a small town in Bhutan under Zhemgang district, on an invitation from Manas National Park to be a witness to the arrival of two rhinos from Pobitora.
With the addition of these two rhinos, the number of rhinos in Manas has now risen to seven. Of the seven, four are from Pobitora. The increase in the number of rhinos also means that the national park will now have to strengthen its infrastructure. This was a way to refurbish the national park, as its entire rhino population was wiped out during the insurgency by Bodo militants in the 1990s.
Both the rhinos came in a truck from Pobitora under security and reached Bansbari range of Manas National Park around 5.30am today. They were released in the Buraburijhar area in Bansbari around 7.30am. Assam chief secretary N.K. Das was on a visit to the park.
The rhinos have been released by a specially trained team and will be observed very closely for the next few hours. The team comprised C.R. Bhobora, deputy director of Manas Tiger Reserve, Kushal Sarma of College of Veterinary Sciences and M.L. Smith of Assam State Zoo.
The animals have been fitted with radio collars and will be monitored continuously for the next year by the staff of Manas National Park with support from members of WWF India. The monitoring team led by Deba Dutta of WWF India will be responsible for monitoring the released rhinos and will maintain a daily record. They will provide regular updates and will work under the supervision and guidance of the translocation core committee. After six months, a monitoring report will be submitted to the translocation core committee. 


camera trapped wildlife in Manas
Camera-trapped snaps raise hopes for Manas


Guwahati, Dec. 22: Pictures don’t lie and Manas is definitely not lying.

As the first camera-trapped pictures of wildlife come out, the Manas National Paark authorities want to send across the message that there is still hope for the numerous species in the park though the numbers may not be that big.

“These pictures at least demonstrate that there is still hope for Manas,” the field director of Manas tiger reserve, A. Swargowari, told The Telegraph.

Camera trapping began in November when forest authorities of India and Bhutan agreed to start a joint initiative to “camera trap” tigers’ movements across the international border, which also heralded the beginning of a new chapter in co-operation between the two countries for wildlife conservation. The exercise will continue till the end of January.

Altogether 150 cameras were placed in 75 locations in the park.

Not only tiger, leopard, black panther, clouded leopard, leopard cat, jungle cat, wild pig, elephant, civet, porcupine have been “trapped” during the exercise.

These cameras are being monitored by different organisations — the World Wildlife Fund, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment and Aaranyak.

In Manas India, the areas being covered are Bansbari and Bhuyanpara while in Bhutan, the Manas range of Royal Manas National Park is being surveyed.

With the monitoring mission team of International Union for Conservation of Nature/World Heritage Committee coming next month, these pictures will prove that wildlife is present in the national park.

The World Heritage Committee has been telling the park authorities that an upward trend in the populations of key wildlife species needs to be demonstrated in order to remove it from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Manas National Park is the most diverse of the country’s wildlife reserves. It houses 61 species of mammals, 354 species of birds, 42 species of reptile, 9 species of amphibian, 79 species of fish and more than 187 species of butterfly and 100 species of invertebrates.

It also has the country’s highest numbers of protected endangered endemic species — 22 of Schedule I mammals. “These pictures are telling that Manas is kicking back into action. Almost all the major carnivore species and its prey has been camera trapped,” a WWF official, who was involved in the exercise, told The Telegraph.

“There is definitely hope and now sincere planning, commitment is required to restore its past glory. Within a decade from now, if the same commitment continues, at least 90 per cent of wildlife in Manas will be back,” the secretary general of Aaranyak, Bibhab Talukdar, said.

“Local communities are also supporting the conservation initiatives as has been evident in the Indian Rhino Vision, 2020, with no incidents of poaching reported as of now.”

In 1992, Manas was put on the List of World Heritage in Danger after threats related to insurgency in and around the park resulted in depletion of forest habitat and wildlife population and destruction of park infrastructure.


Delhi slams Assam on forest rights act

Delhi slams official attitude to forest act

- Approach bureaucratic, says joint report

Guwahati, Dec. 10: The joint committee of ministry of environment and forests and ministry of tribal affairs has scathingly criticised the official attitude of Assam towards the Forest Rights Act.

“As a whole, the official attitude towards Forest Rights Act and its implementation is highly bureaucratic and lacks serious engagement. The strong resistance on the part of the forest department against the act was visible everywhere. The department misinterpreted the provisions of the act,” the report stated.

The report was made public today. It summarises the enquiries and observations recorded during field visits along with public consultations and meetings with field officials.

The report said the department misinterpreted the provisions of the act. It said the general attitude amongst the majority of the forest officials was to interpret that the rural population was historically not dependent on forests. The report quoted the chief secretary of Assam saying, “If the act is to be implemented, there will be no forest coverage left.”

He admitted that the district magistrates of various districts have a disparity in understanding the act. The chief secretary also informed that the act could not be implemented in the Sixth Schedule Areas, which would require an amendment to its rule.

The Assam government has accordingly written to the Centre to amend rules and is still awaiting a response.

The chief secretary carefully articulated the views of the state government on the nature of claimants and categorically reiterated, “we are willing to give rights to tribals but not to non-tribals” as most of them are encroachers.

It said a large number of petitions was either pending or rejected. In the state, almost 74 per cent of the applications are in the “in pending” category.

This is highly disappointing given that the implementation of forest rights has been active since 2008.

Officials belonging to forest and social welfare departments are making brief enquiries to make such critical decisions. The officials have not attempted to probe deeper for crucial evidences needed for the effective implementation of the act.

The report said there has been widespread hostility among the conservationists on the future implications of the Forest Rights Act. “The primary question that they have been raising is not unique to the state. The conservation groups have registered their concerns about the rapid deforestation in selected pockets of forests. They have also put forward the argument that settlement of people inside the protected areas will lead to further fragmentation of landscape of the these areas.” Examples were cited from Manas National Park of the crucial damages to habitat because of settlements inside the park.

The report said there has been rampant violation of procedures as laid down in the act like boundaries of land not being shown in the certificates, over-night completion of procedures and others.


red panda conservation community alliance

Villagers form alliance to conserve red panda

- Five villages in Arunachal constitute group with support from Sir Dorabji Tata Trust


Guwahati, Dec. 7: Villagers in the high-altitude areas of Arunachal Pradesh have joined hands to form a red panda conservation alliance — claiming to be the first community initiative of its kind in the world.

"The constitution of the alliance will not only help in conservation of red pandas in a scientific manner but will also help in strengthening the ongoing community-based tourism being promoted in the area as conservation incentives for the villagers. This is reported to be the first community initiative of its kind in the world,” Pijush Kumar Dutta, the landscape co-ordinator of Western Arunachal Pradesh Landscape Conservation Programme WWF-India, told The Telegraph.

Dutta said since the area has a good population of red pandas (Ailurus fulgens), which is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, Appendix I of CITES and as endangered species in IUCN Red List, villagers have decided to form Pangchen Red Panda Conservation Alliance.

The alliance, formed with support from Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, has been named Pangchen Red Panda Conservation Alliance as these villages — Socktsen, Kharman, Kelengteng, Lumpo and Muchat — are from this valley. The villages are situated at a height ranging from 6,000 to 14,000 feet. The villagers have reported sighting red pandas on the laju tree in the valley.

The total forest area under control of these five villagers is 200 square km and this area is known as community-conserved area.

“A detailed plan will be prepared in discussion with the villagers. However, immediate plan of action is to ban any kind of hunting or capturing of red panda. The idea is to ensure protection of its habitat and plant species on which it is dependent and report sighting by any villagers and maintain a record of it,” Dutta said.

Work will be taken up in consultation with the villagers to identify the threats and pressure on red panda and its habitat to develop a long-term management plan.

Dutta said there had been no scientific study of population of the red panda in Arunachal Pradesh but based on the area of its suitable habitat, it is estimated that more than 90 per cent of the animals’ population in the country is in Arunachal Pradesh,” he said.

The idea behind the alliance is to strengthen the community-based conservation to secure vast forest area of the state, which is under the control of indigenous communities. Nearly, 60 per cent of the forest area is under traditional ownership.

Dutta said the residents of two community-conserved areas (CCAs) in Tawang district, Thembang Bapu CCA (312 square km), and Pangchen Lumpo Muchat CCA (98 square km), had started similar initiatives to protect the wildlife in 2008 and in the process had earned a good revenue from tourism.

It has helped the villagers in these areas earn over Rs 4.24 lakh by providing home-stay operators, home-based restaurant operators, porters, guides, cooks and helpers besides entry fee, camera fee, camping site charge and camping material charge.


special force pill for namdapha

Special force pill for Namdapha

- Evaluation experts suggest involving Lisus to prevent poaching


Guwahati, Dec. 5: A rapid field evaluation on Namdapha tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, conducted by experts, has suggested to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) the need to have a separate protection force by members of the Lisu tribe, who have excellent knowledge of the terrain to help in detection of poachers from Myanmar.

The conservation authority has categorised Namdapha as a poor tiger reserve and had asked experts to carry out a rapid appraisal.

The expert committee report, which was recently submitted to NTCA, said there could even be an agreement with the Lisu community that they would take an active role in preventing hunting and other disturbances.

“There can be forest camps every 10km with regular staff posted along with members of the Lisu community,” the report said.

The team opined that Namdapha tiger reserve is of immense value from biodiversity point of view as it also shelters tiger and other key animals. Illegal hunting is a serious threat to wildlife in the park, and is prevalent among all tribal groups.

The report said poaching was likely to be among the primary factors resulting in the current decline in Namdapha, which is located along the international border with Myanmar and close to hotspots of trade in animal body parts.

“In Myanmar, there is a documented decline of tigers because of hunting for trade. Hunting of tigers is a significant threat to the persistence or recovery of tigers and other large carnivores in Namdapha,” it said.

There are 84 families staying in eight villages in the core area of the tiger reserve. It says contingency staff for protection squad should be hired from local communities, rules on educational qualifications should be relaxed as this often hampers the selection of the right people for forest patrolling duties. The best people for this work are often uneducated, but skilled in the jungle.

Not only in regard to recruiting local people, the committee has also called for a change in attitude of the forest department as there has been a long history of blaming the Lisu with poor efforts at understanding their problems or dialogue.

The committee feels this mindset needs to change to move forward positively to solve the park’s problems.

The biggest problem is in relocation of Lisus outside the park as the leaders of the community have indicated that they were not willing to settle for the Rs 10 lakh compensation and would want adequate land to be notified and demarcated for them in lieu of the occupied land in the park.

Settlements inside the park came up since 1997-98.

“All these problems have also been exacerbated by the remoteness of the area with no road connection, poor communication and infrastructure, low staff strength and motivation, poor official interest in the park with very limited action/management on ground. These also results in further deterioration of morale and functioning of the lower field staff,” the report said.