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Old 19th July 2011, 16:33   #1
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Default Wildlife Sanctuary Management : Do's and Don'ts

Mod Note : This thread has been split from the original travelogue (Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortuner) on request.

YIKES !!! If this is the future of reserves in India its a sad sad story. I feel they are overdoing it. The park authorities must restrict the number of cars allowed every day and let people book online to get a slot. Just opening the doors to as many as possible is just such a horrific intrusion into the jungles

Sad, very sad.

Wildlife Sanctuary Management : Do's and Don'ts-dsc_7459.jpg

This is like going to the zoo !!

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Old 19th July 2011, 18:28   #2
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
YIKES !!! If this is the future of reserves in India its a sad sad story. I feel they are overdoing it. The park authorities must restrict the number of cars allowed every day and let people book online to get a slot. Just opening the doors to as many as possible is just such a horrific intrusion into the jungles

Sad, very sad.

This is like going to the zoo !!
It was worse than a zoo. A tiger was sitting beneath a tree about 100 feet from the track. And soon vehicles started arriving....after sometime I think all the vehicles in Kanha zone were lined up on that track.

@ Subrat: yes, now I remember that on a few days we came back around 11ish. Pretty hectic doing two safaris a day, especially in summer - say 5.5. hours in the morning, and close to 3 hours in the afternoon.

One needs to be very lucky to spot something once the day becomes hot. I had a fantastic leopard sighting in BR Hills at 11.30 AM or so - 10 feet from my vehicle on the main road - I didn't even have my camera ready because I wasn't expecting anything on the roads that time.
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Old 20th July 2011, 10:17   #3
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
YIKES !!! If this is the future of reserves in India its a sad sad story. I feel they are overdoing it. The park authorities must restrict the number of cars allowed every day and let people book online to get a slot. Just opening the doors to as many as possible is just such a horrific intrusion into the jungles

Sad, very sad.

Attachment 579466

This is like going to the zoo !!
Sir, Things have improved now and may improve. Earlier days, Bandhavgarh, especially Tala zone used to be unlimited vehicle, which has been restricted to 32 now. Kanha zone allow 70 vehicles but hardly you find them on the jungle except meadows, and some tiger sighting points. It is limited not opening doors for every one. Also, the booking are online.

Most important thing is, despite doubling the entry fees compared to last season (Rs.680 to Rs.1030 this year), tourist pouring in. Therefore, MP forest department may increase (probably double) the entry fees for this season. To my understanding, this is not going to help because purchasing power has gone up coupled with lifestyle changes. People want to enjoy now then think of future much.

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Old 20th July 2011, 12:21   #4
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

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Originally Posted by Subrat Seet View Post
tourist pouring in....People want to enjoy now then think of future much.
I strongly believe in eco tourism as one of the key initiatives in helping sustain wildlife sanctuaries

But at the same time the forest environment and wildlife is very fragile. I find the proximity of humans to tigers too alarming as its desensitising the animal completely to human presence. Wild animals are shy and avoid human contact. Kanha and Pench seem to have become zoos and the tigers seem quite comfortable around human presence. This is most unnatural.

That picture of Abheek's with a tiger holding his bean bag is sad. What's next, tigers stumbling on a chicken sandwich with mayonaise that tumbled out of an enthusiastic tourist's Jeep? This is slowly beginning to remind me of that Buddhist monk retreat where they have tigers as pets and you can actually pose with them with your hand around them !! Just a matter of time before a Lallan or a Babloo will make friends with a tiger in Kanha and become a tourist attraction himself !!

Its all very nice to take great shots of these amazing animals but something very precious is being lost here. A wild forest is not a zoo and neither is it a joyride park. When you enter a forest you must tread very lightly, in complete silence and not more than two or three people together. When you are quiet within and go into a forest you can sense a powerful sense of being forbidden to go in deeper. Its so utterly palpable. I am sure the forest does not welcome such large scale intrusion.

I do realise that caught between the poachers/wood smugglers and the well heeled tourist the purity of an old intensely beautiful and private world of a forest is lost forever. I guess we should appreciate that the latter is a lesser evil and be thankful something will remain of what once covered large parts of India

PS - I don't mean to go offtopic and spoil this beautiful travelogue. I guess if people wish to discuss the subject we could carry on the discussion elsewhere

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Old 20th July 2011, 12:58   #5
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

Bandhavgarh is the worst, IMO, in terms of desensitization...tigers have lost all fear of humans, and pray at will on cattle (killing humans, once in a while), jumping out of the fence and then coming back with kills.

I feel the best way to enjoy the forest is to stay inside the forest (if permitted) and soak in the atmosphere - dawn, dusk, night. The safaris are good for pictures, but not so good for experiencing the forest through all the senses - unless you are lucky to be the first one inside.

In many of the vehicles, you see people laughing or talking loudly...such a jarring experience in the middle of the jungle.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 20th July 2011 at 13:00.
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Old 20th July 2011, 14:25   #6
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

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Originally Posted by DKG View Post
I strongly believe in eco tourism as one of the key initiatives in helping sustain wildlife sanctuaries

That picture of Abheek's with a tiger holding his bean bag is sad. What's next, tigers stumbling on a chicken sandwich with mayonaise that tumbled out of an enthusiastic tourist's Jeep?

on the discussion elsewhere
Sorry for going off topic. I too agree with your concerns. There are quite a bit of things we should remember, while going to park. Behave responsibly.

I too felt bad about the tiger holding bean bag.



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Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Bandhavgarh is the worst, IMO, in terms of desensitization...tigers have lost all fear of humans, and pray at will on cattle (killing humans, once in a while), jumping out of the fence and then coming back with kills.

Bandhavgarh has strict rules, however. Sir, you touched upon a big issue. Cattle, human and tiger conflict at Bandhavgarh is a moral hazard problem. Cattle owner get compensation when a tiger kills it, both from the FD as well as NGOs.

I feel the best way to enjoy the forest is to stay inside the forest (if permitted) and soak in the atmosphere - dawn, dusk, night.

I too would love to spend more time inside the forest but I am totally against it for the permission to stay inside. Do not take it personally. My experience at Baghira Log Huts at Kanha. Till 11.30 in the night people used to drunk in the restaurant and vehicles used go out of the gate and come inside frequently. It is a disturbance.

In many of the vehicles, you see people laughing or talking loudly...such a jarring experience in the middle of the jungle.
We Indians not all, do not know the jungle etiquettes. I am sorry to say this. You fell so iritating when such things happens.

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Old 20th July 2011, 14:46   #7
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

Its heartening to see both of you being sensitive to this issue. Anyway, to avoid spoiling this lovely thread with more of this talk - i've asked the mods to split this discussion into a new thread.

Last edited by Rehaan : 21st July 2011 at 17:03.
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Old 20th July 2011, 17:29   #8
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
I strongly believe in eco tourism as one of the key initiatives in helping sustain wildlife sanctuaries

But at the same time the forest environment and wildlife is very fragile. I find the proximity of humans to tigers too alarming as its desensitising the animal completely to human presence. Wild animals are shy and avoid human contact. Kanha and Pench seem to have become zoos and the tigers seem quite comfortable around human presence. This is most unnatural.

That picture of Abheek's with a tiger holding his bean bag is sad. What's next, tigers stumbling on a chicken sandwich with mayonaise that tumbled out of an enthusiastic tourist's Jeep? This is slowly beginning to remind me of that Buddhist monk retreat where they have tigers as pets and you can actually pose with them with your hand around them !! Just a matter of time before a Lallan or a Babloo will make friends with a tiger in Kanha and become a tourist attraction himself !!

Its all very nice to take great shots of these amazing animals but something very precious is being lost here. A wild forest is not a zoo and neither is it a joyride park. When you enter a forest you must tread very lightly, in complete silence and not more than two or three people together. When you are quiet within and go into a forest you can sense a powerful sense of being forbidden to go in deeper. Its so utterly palpable. I am sure the forest does not welcome such large scale intrusion.

I do realise that caught between the poachers/wood smugglers and the well heeled tourist the purity of an old intensely beautiful and private world of a forest is lost forever. I guess we should appreciate that the latter is a lesser evil and be thankful something will remain of what once covered large parts of India

PS - I don't mean to go offtopic and spoil this beautiful travelogue. I guess if people wish to discuss the subject we could carry on the discussion elsewhere
Sir,
I totally agree to every word written about the national parks truning into a zoo. It will be great at start a discussion on a new thread dedicated to the "Zoo Effect" of our national parks.
Regards

@nilanjanray
As your daughter is already accustomed to the nilgiris I am sure she will enjoy the safaris too. I have been taking my son since he was 10 months old. Its very important to get our children used to the jungle trips for our own selfish motives,so that we can keep returning back to the forests
Regards
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Old 20th July 2011, 18:27   #9
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

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Originally Posted by Subrat Seet View Post
I too would love to spend more time inside the forest but I am totally against it for the permission to stay inside. Do not take it personally. My experience at Baghira Log Huts at Kanha. Till 11.30 in the night people used to drunk in the restaurant and vehicles used go out of the gate and come inside frequently. It is a disturbance.
I was actually referring to the forests down South, where one can stay outside the core area and still be visited by plenty of wildlife. There is nothing like a campfire beneath the stars and wildlife moving all around you - alarm calls, deers jumping inside to avoid a predator, elephant beyond the fence etc.

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th July 2011 at 15:45. Reason: Splitting post between 2 threads.
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Old 21st July 2011, 12:21   #10
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Default Re: Call of the Wild: A 3500 km roadtrip to Pench, Bandhavgarh and Kanha in a Fortune

Ok. Definitely, being inside the jungle is a superb idea. Superb captures again. By seeing the barasingha walking onthe road, i recalled Mukki zone.
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Old 22nd July 2011, 11:29   #11
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Default Re: Wildlife Sanctuary Management : Do's and Don'ts

India in every way is a unique environment and often you cannot simply apply practices in vogue elsewhere on the planet and expect success. More often than not, well intentioned initiatives fall by the wayside as they usually don't take the widest possible environment in view.

The single greatest threat to Indian forests and wildlife is Man. An old world forest actually doesn't need us to manage it. Leave the forest and wildlife alone and it will find its balance. It has for hundreds of thousands of years.

The area where we seem to be failing miserably is in managing human habitat and welfare concerns of people living either inside or on the fringe of forests.

Wildlife Park Management really is, to me, all about managing the threats and opportunities that face our forests.

The starting point in my view is to understand that sustaining our forests and wildlife is not about a Man vs Animal debate and the welfare of one cannot compromise the other.

I am not an expert on the subject but let me try to list out some of the threats and opportunities that our national parks face and see how we can through brainstorming come up with a plausible solution to managing our parks effectively.

Water table management and climate change.

Rainfall patterns seem to have undergone some change as compared to what may have been the case some 50 years ago and most forests face severe shortages in natural water sources. To a great extent the rampant deforestation of land for agriculture may have added to the changes in rainfall patterns.

India's greatest failing since Independence has been its inability to formulate and implement a comprehensive water management policy across the country. With the Himalayas and many other mountain ranges and a vast network of rivers its appalling how we have failed to harvest water which is simply flowing into the sea each year.

Our annual rainfall also goes large unharvested and the extent of run off and resultant soil erosion is alarming.

At the wildlife park management level there is a dire need for programs to capture water during monsoon and retain the same within forests. This would involve building a series of reservoirs within forests and preventing run off water from flowing into streams and rivers and eventually heading out to sea.

The issue however raises an interesting question. What about humans and their need for water ? In reality both humans and forests are now competing for the same resource. During my visits to some of the forests in AP I noticed farmers breaching dams of lakes inside forests to cultivate land as their reservoirs have gone dry. Rampant bore well drilling has depleted the water table and most bore wells run dry. Poorly designed or managed bunds that breach during excess rainfall flows result in a large quantum of water being lost leaving less water for irrigation. Six months before monsoon sets in irrigation works must be carried out to prepare to harvest rainfall for villages on the fringes of parks. A separate fund must be allocated for this purpose and the Ministry of Environment and Forests must coordinate with the Irrigation Ministry to ensure these are executed on time.

Innovative water retention programs can be instituted to enable ample drinking water supply to animals deep in the core areas.

A holistic approach to harvesting water for man, animal and plants is what is needed by park management initiatives to ensure this vital resource is suitably managed.

A well managed water program alleviates the pressures from the forest resources to sustain human needs, allowing our forests and wildlife to thrive peacefully and reducing man animal conflict.

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Old 22nd July 2011, 11:55   #12
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Default Re: Wildlife Sanctuary Management : Do's and Don'ts

Prey base management and monitoring the health of the forest

We need food to survive and so do animals !! For every so many hectares of forest land some meadows need to be maintained for grazing purpose. The herbivore population in a forest is substantial and their needs must be catered to. Poor rainfall, coupled with soil erosion problems have led to large patches which have become barren instead of having lush grass. Park authorities must have a program that ensures a certain percentage of forest cover is maintained as meadows. Histprically some of the naturally occuring meadows were conveniently turned into fields for agriculture by tribals too.

Needless to say a thriving herbivore population ensures a thriving carnivore population. The fine balance of nature ensured ample mineral resources for animals but over the past century with striking imbalances in nature and rampant soil erosion the need for park authorities to supplement some of these resources has increased. Salt licks placed throughout the forest is essential.

Time and again for various reasons new kinds of weeds are sprouting, possibly on account of cattle and avian life. Some of these weeds are deadly and can actually threaten the old world plant life balance in a forest. Routine monitoring of such threats is essential.

With forest cover dwindling and the increased risk of inbreeding in parks these days the overall health of the animals is now severely under threat. Inbreeding is a known cause for reduced immunity to disease. Earlier animals had large forest corridors or belts that allowed them to roam freely across India. These have been severely disrupted and forests are now like islands. This poses new problems. Man has to intervene to enable some form of inbreeding or restoration of corridors.

A separate program to monitor the genetic health of animals must be implemented across all parks to ensure this threat is kept at bay.

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Old 22nd July 2011, 12:11   #13
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Cattle

The government of India as part of its agriculture and animal husbandry projects given huge impetus to the breeding of cattle across the country. A lot of people depend on cattle and the byproducts. What the government has failed to do is to provide enough resources to develop suitable grazing grounds for these cattle.

As a result when farmers can't sustain the natural food source for these cattle they invariably depend on the forest to sustain their cattle. You can imagine what a devastating impact such large scale intrusion of cattle can entail in a forest environment.

Cattle not only eat into the water sources and over graze leading to a more difficult time for herbivores to find food they bring disease into the forest and upset the natural balance of the food chain for carnivores.

Often being an easier target once carnivores start feeding off cattle not only do the man animal conflicts increase but it upsets the natural checks and balances on the herbivore population. Not to forget the devastating impact of over grazing by both cattle and herbivores on the limited food sources.

The solution I would propose is for the government to create large cattle hold near villages and actively turn barren lands into fodder cultivation farms. Obviously water needs to be managed well for this. Perhaps around every reservoir we could have a large tract of land for fodder cultivation and holds for cattle.

I don't think its as simple as closing the doors on villagers by preventing them from using forests for their cattle. We need to help the villagers with fodder and water for their cattle. Only then can you expect the cattle to stay out of forests.

I would also recommend increased focus on monitoring the health of these cattle and increasing their milk productivity so that the villager benefits
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Old 22nd July 2011, 12:29   #14
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Default Re: Wildlife Sanctuary Management : Do's and Don'ts

Deforestation

When you visit jungles across our country you will see a common sight throughout. Tree stumps !!

It all starts with a tree cut here and a tree cut there. Soon you will see a small clearing in the forest and a small settlement of huts pops up or simply an entire patch is cut and the wood consumed either for firewood or for use in local saw mills.

Once again people need fuel to cook their food and some saw mills need wood to run their business.

Its all very simple to say create a law that bans cutting of wood and arrest and put into jail the offenders. BTW a law exists and they do catch the culprits but apparently now they can be let off on bail.

So the problem persists and our forests slowly burn for firewood or become furniture and woodwork in our homes.

A long term solution I would suggest is for the government and park authorities to adopt the policy of active wood farming. I used to work for a paper company based in Andhra 25 years ago and recently when I visited the location where their factory is located I was impressed by their practice of cultivating huge tracts of land for wood for paper pulp use.

Firstly the paper mill is creating revenue for the local farmer by consuming his produce. Next by a collective farming scheme they are improving his yield and actually its a win win situation for both. Now if the villager is thriving and the paper mill is getting its source wood why would anyone touch a old world forest?

Across India we should have large tracts of land turned into wood farming corridors. Ideally all around the forests. These can supply wood to saw mills and for fuel.

Increased focus on biogas plants, solar energy, CNG or LPG fuel supply will also help villagers run their kitchens on alternate fuel source and leave the trees in forests to thrive.

Satellite imagery has such a billiant tool available to keep a tab on deforestation. Forest officials and park authorities can monitor on daily basis the condition of their reserves. Prompt and timely action can help avoid a problem before it becomes too big to manage.

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Old 22nd July 2011, 12:51   #15
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Tribals

For thousands of years you have had human settlements either inside or on the fringe of forests. Primarily tribal communities, the forest has been their life for tens of thousands of years. They've known nothing else.

We need to take a very sensitive and sympathetic view of their needs and requirements and work closely with these communities to help sustain these reserve forests.

A huge chunk of me says these are the true custodians of our forests and they need to remain our primary partners in protecting out forests and sustaining them. Another part of me is aware that some of these communities has directly contributed to the degradation of the forests be it through excessive logging or hunting.

How much of a problem their hunting is we need to assess and figure out a solution. Would educating their children and offering them jobs in the forest department or turning them into budding entrepreneurs to run safaris or running resorts etc be the right move? I think so, but we could talk about this.

On one of my visits into a forest in Khamman with forest officials I was alarmed to be informed that the naxalite movement and the harassment of indigenous tribes in the forests of Chattisgarh and Orissa has led to vast numbers of tribals to migrate into the forests of AP. These new residents cut trees and set up a group of huts inside forests and eventually claim it as their own. Such settlements spell doom for that forest eventually as more and more land gets freed up for agriculture.

These are some of the larger problems we face and its more at the Central Ministry level that decisions and initiatives be taken to curtail this.

The use of forests by criminals/smugglers or naxalites as cover for their activities is a huge problem and our home ministry needs to clamp down hard. Would it be a good idea to allow our armed forces to use the fringes as their training grounds? Perhaps they could help police the core areas? I don't know. Its a law and order problem and a solution must be found.

I just want to see tribals remaining as the primary custodians of our forests. And I want to see those communities thriving through tourism or other forest by product industry rewards.

With a sympathetic approach tribals will cooperate to vacate core areas. Its just not being implemented holistically where its a win win situation for all concerned.

Last edited by DKG : 22nd July 2011 at 12:53.
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