ARC

A little bit of everything


Tag: central india

WWF-India staff’s timely act prevents poaching attempt in a critical Central Indian tiger corridor

(Note: First published here.)

The Kanha-Pench Corridor
The Kanha-Pench corridor in Central India offers crucial connectivity between the two important tiger source populations in Kanha and Pench through extensive tracts of forests. Such forest corridors offer much needed contiguity between different tiger populations, thereby preventing their isolation as well as subsequent loss of genetic vigour, and help in long term tiger conservation.

These corridor forests have water holes that are used by wild animals dispersing through the corridor during the summer months. These spots are vulnerable to poaching as poachers can easily target wild animals, including tigers, coming to drink water through use of traps and poisons. For the past two years, WWF-India’s Satpura Maikal Landscape (SML) Programme staff members have been engaged in extensive monitoring of such waterholes in the Kanha-Pench corridor during summer to prevent waterhole poisoning. The monitoring is done in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh state Forest Department.

One such crucial water hole is located in the Atarwani beat of the South Seoni Forest Division in the corridor near the Pench Tiger Reserve. During tiger monitoring exercises it was found that tigers and other animals such as gaur, barking deer and several species of birds frequently visited this waterhole during summer.

The Poaching Attempt
On the evening of 29th March, Girish Patel, WWF-India Field Officer, while on his scheduled waterhole monitoring came across a group of villagers at the water hole. As he recounts, “I saw a group of villagers from different villages namely Atarwani, Sakhadehi, Dhobisara and Darasi. Curious, I asked why they were sitting there. They replied that they were just passing by. So I started moving towards the waterhole and to my surprise they followed me and I suddenly saw nets set up with bamboo near the waterhole. In a flash, I understood from my experience working in this area what they were up to. But instead of reacting in shock, I behaved normally and asked them about the nets. They admitted that they setup the traps for small mammals and birds. I casually took photographs and shot some video for documentary evidence. I soon left and immediately informed the Range Officer of that place as well as the Divisional Forest Officer and my seniors”.

Unfortunately, by the time Forest Department personnel reached the spot the suspected poachers had decamped but the traps setup around the water hole were confiscated. Due to the documentary evidence collected by Mr. Patel an arrest warrant was later issued against the suspects and the case is currently under investigation.

Prompt and decisive actions such these will create a deterrent among potential poachers and hence reduce the frequency of such incidents. Increased vigilance in this area will lead to better protection of tigers and other wildlife which in turn will improve the functionality of the critical Kanha Pench Corridor.

Bookmark and Share

Helping the tigers of Kopijhola

(Note: a modified version was first published here.)

Advocacy to protect an important forest block in Central India’s Kanha-Pench corridor

The importance of corridors
Tigers need space due to their territorial nature. Sub-adult tigers are forced to move away from their birth ranges to adjacent protected areas to establish new territories. In this process they make use of available corridor forests that connect protected areas. The Kanha-Pench corridor covering an area of 16,000 sq km in Central India offers such crucial connectivity between the two major tiger source populations in Kanha and Pench through extensive tracts of forests. Together with the Kanha-Achanakmar corridor in Chhattisgarh, these forest tracts form one of the most important tiger habitats in the world. Such forest corridors offer much needed contiguity between different tiger populations, thereby preventing their isolation as well as subsequent loss of genetic vigour, and help in long term tiger conservation.

The Kopijhola Forest Block
The Kanha-Pench corridor is made up of different forest administrative blocks. One such important forest block is Kopijhola-Sonekhar, covering an area of 182 sq. km. The Kopijhola village has a population of about 450 people who depend on the forests for livelihood. In spite of the human settlement, the area around Kopijhola has good bamboo forests, mixed forests and teak plantations.

A survey on tiger occupancy by Wildlife Institute of India and WWF-India recorded the presence of tiger in the Kopijhola-Sonekhar block, including a direct sighting. This forest is also home to other wild animals like leopards, hyena, wild dogs, sambar, four-horned antelope, spotted deer and palm civet, to name a few. Subsequent to the tiger occupancy survey, WWF-India’s Central India field team consisting of Senior Project Officers-Sanjay Thakur and Jyotirmay Jena undertook a rapid survey of the Kopijhola Forest Block to assess its biodiversity and current status. During the survey, apart from megafauna, the team also recorded 30 species of butterflies and 57 species of birds. River Hirri flows across the forest block and has water availability even in summer. This availability of a perennial water source has resulted in the presence of sufficient prey base for tigers.

Bookmark and Share

Villagers in Central India Set an Example for Conservation at the Community Level

(Note: First published here.)

Say no to establishment of a lime kiln to protect a reserve forest
Located in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla district, Bagaspur is a pilot village where WWF-India is working with the villagers to conserve wildlife for the past six years. It is located inside Central India’s Satpura Maikal landscape, which is home to approximately 13% of the world’s wild tiger population. Among the issues facing the landscape are over-exploitation of the natural resources, particularly the wood from the forests. To overcome these, WWF-India has facilitated formation of a village level Forest Conservation Committee that sustainably manages the nearby reserve forest.

© SML Mandla Office/ WWF-India

A photo of a lime kiln

Overcoming the lure to make a few quick bucks
A few months ago, in 2010, the villagers of Bagaspur were approached by a lime kiln owner from a nearby village who promised them money to develop the village and construct the village road. He even offered to construct a temple for their use. In return he wanted the villagers to let him open a lime kiln in the village He had secured the required permission from forest department to source the wood from the surrounding reserve forest.

The villagers realized that the heating requirements of a lime kiln for a five day period were 2 – 3 truck loads of wood. The lime kiln owner had an assured supply of only a truck load of wood with the permissions in place. He wanted the villagers to source the remaining wood requirements from the reserve forest, illegally! He offered to pay for such illegally collected wood. The villagers, however, were against even sourcing fallen branches for the kiln from the forest, let alone felling green trees for wood on such a scale. They refused straight away.

© SML Mandla Office/ WWF-India

The reserve forest around Bagaspur village

Support to villagers by WWF-India’s field team
Undeterred by the refusal of the villagers the lime kiln owner then approached Girish Patel, part of the SML team at WWF-India’s Mandla field office, and offered to pay him if he could convince the villagers in agreeing to set up the kiln. But Girish also refused point blank. As he recalls, “I felt the villagers had rights over the reserve forest although not for illegal cutting for commercial purpose.”

When Girish also rejected the offer, the lime kiln owner even threatened him with dire consequences if he did not change his mind. However, both Girish and the villagers remained steadfast in their refusal and the kiln owner had to abandon his plans.

Girish says from his past experience that had this kiln been allowed to come up then many more kilns would have come up within a short space of time in the surrounding villages like Pauri, Thangul, Umaria to name a few, which would have led to rapid degradation of the reserve forest in the area.

© SML Mandla Office/ WWF-India

Villagers of Bagaspur meeting with WWF-India field staff

The villagers also wrote a letter to the district collector requesting him not to allow such a lime kiln to come up in their village.

As Mr. Sumeri Lal Marathi, President of Bagaspur’s Forest Conservation Committee concluded, “We, the villagers of Bagaspur, refused the proposed lime kiln as increased cutting of wood over the years would have lead to the erosion of the natural resources from the forest on which we all are dependant.”

By forgoing short terms gains for long term conservation needs, the villagers of Bagaspur have set an inspiring example.

[-] Show Less

Bookmark and Share

Fragmentation threat in the Kanha-Pench Corridor

(Note: First published here.)

Report by WWF-India highlights threat by proposed railway line expansion to crucial corridor linking tiger habitats.

Kanha-Pench tiger corridor
Located in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Kanha-Pench corridor is one of the most important forest corridors in India and facilitates tiger dispersal between Kanha and Pench Tiger Reserves. It covers an area of 16,000 sq km and acts as a refuge for several other mammals such as wild dogs, sloth bear, leopard, hyena, jackal, and sambar to name a few. The Kanha-Pench Corridor also harbours gaur and is known to facilitate their movement. The presence in the corridor of wild prey such as gaur, sambar, chital can help prevent killing of cattle by tigers and thus prevent retaliatory conflict with locals.

Importance of corridors
Sub-adult male tigers are forced to move out of areas where they are born and find new territories. These dispersing sub-adult males are often the ones that manage to use a corridor and get to the adjacent protected area.

A tiger passing through a corridor forest has to confront a range of challenges such as hostile villagers, retaliatory poisoning of livestock kills, poaching of tigers and prey, electrocution by live wires, apart from road and rail traffic. The widening of railway lines and construction and widening of roads in such a corridor will result in fragmentation of the corridor and thereby make dispersal all the more difficult for tigers and other animals that use the corridor.

Such corridors are vital for the long term survival and viability of tigers as they connect smaller tiger populations (eg. Pench and Achanakmar) to larger source populations such as Kanha. Without these linkages tiger populations isolated within individual tiger reserves face the risk of extinction due to poaching and loss in genetic vigour over generations.

© WWF-India

Bookmark and Share