B2 (1997-2011)

B2 (1997-2011)

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Camera Trap Pictures of Tigers - (Part 1 of 4)

Shivalik Hills And The Gangetic Plain Landscape (Terai Landscape in India)

From Katarnighat Tiger Reserve

From Corbett Tiger Reserve

(Khali in Camera Trap)

(Khali in Camera Trap)

From Dudhwa Tiger Reserve

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Half of the world's tiger population in Nepal and India


The number of tigers that were once victimized by poaching, hunting and illegal trading seems to be on the rise.

The last century saw a dramatic decline in the number of this predator. However, with the recent tiger census statistics in India, considered to be their major habitat, conservationists have become hopeful.

According to figures made public in Delhi by the Central Minister for Environment Jayram Ramesh at the end of March, the population of adult tigers in India has risen from 1,411 to 1,706.

If we add the 155 tigers of Nepal to India’s, the total accounts for more than half of the estimated worldwide cat population of 3,400. This is great news for both the countries that have adjoining conservation areas.

India has pledged to give priority to the adjoined conservation areas of Nepal along with its 39 tiger reserves. The conservation areas adjoining the two countries have been named as the major ecological corridors by India.

Krishna Prasad Acharya, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, says, “Along with mutual support from India in the border areas, joint patrolling and local support has to be augmented for wildlife conservation.”

The heads of state from 13 tiger-range countries (where tigers are found) gathered last week in New Delhi and pledged to make significant efforts in their individual countries to double the number of tigers by the upcoming tiger year 2022.

Last November, the Global Tiger Summit was held in St Petersburg where 13 heads of state signed the Declaration on Tiger Conservation. Giving continuity to the summit’s goals, “A conference on tiger conservation and workshop on implementation of the global tiger recovery plan” is being held in the Indian capital, starting Monday.

The heads of state have also agreed to meet once again in Nagpur, India, during December 2011, to discuss the developments of their tiger conservation programs. The Delhi conference invited nations, announcing Nagpur, that has six tiger reservations, as the “Global Tiger Capital.”

However, the bad news is that with rapid population growth in India, tiger habitats have decreased by 20,000 sq km. Central Minister Ramesh, therefore, has requested Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, to make plans keeping the tiger population in mind from here onwards.

Population growth also proves to be a major challenge for Nepal as it has increased pressure in Tarai as a result of which the natural habitats of tigers have been encroached upon heavily.

Whereas the tiger population in the northern parts of India adjoined with Nepal is reported to have increased by 54, the population has gone up from 297 to 353 in the northern parts considered to be the Ganges plains, along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Balmiki, Sohelwa, Kataraniyaghat, Dudhwa, Lagga, Bagha, and the proposed Pilibhit tiger reserve, which are the major habitats of rhinos and tigers in India are connected to Parsa, Chitwan, Bardiya, Banke, and Shuklaphanta of Nepal.

Since the conservation areas are not attached to each other at the landscape level, experts have been continually stressing on the necessity of India to work together with Nepal for genetic conservation of wildlife.

During the international conference held last year in Russia, all 13 nations had agreed to formulate plans in their individual countries, consenting to the goal of doubling tiger population in the Global Tiger Recovery Plan.

In the conference, jointly organized by Global Tiger Initiative and Global Tiger Forum, Nepal presented its major case points for the improvement of tiger habitat, illegal poaching, wildlife trading, and skills development of conservationists.

Due to the lack of standard road networks in conservation areas of Nepal, patrolling has not been carried out, and during rainy season, it is almost impossible to patrol. As a result of this, forest crimes have been hard to control. For that, Acharya says it is important to build a network of roads.

After being defamed as the transit point for smuggling of rare wildlife products at the end of Tiger Year 2010, Nepal has prioritized the establishment of South Asian Secretariat to put an end to this trade.

Wildlife experts from different South Asian countries gathered in Bhutan at the end of January this year had consented on having the permanent Secretariat office of South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) in Nepal.

Nepal has also set a goal to increase its tiger population to 250 within 10 years. Besides Nepal and India, China, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Russia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Laos are considered as Tiger Range countries.

The major case points put forward by the Tiger Range countries for conservation of this rare wildlife are habitat protection, restriction in illegal international trading, and demarcation of conservation areas, as well as preservation in its food chain.

Nepal’s appreciation

Following the completion of the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop in October 2009, Nepal has been making great efforts for tiger conservation and this was acknowledged at the Delhi conference.

Nepal cited that countries like China should work to lessen the demand of wildlife products which gained everyone’s consent.

In Nepal’s perspective, China’s effort to change the attitude of Chinese citizens for tiger conservation has brought about positive developments. According to Diwakar Chapagain, expert from World Wide Fund (WWF), if properly conserved, tigers are such species that can proliferate quickly.

The conference also praised Nepal’s efforts such as signing halted agreements with India and China regarding conservation issues, advocating the establishment of SEWAN Secretariat office in Kathmandu for wildlife crime control, establishment of Banke National Park, increasing the area of Bardiya National Park, forming a national tiger conservation committee with the prime minister as its president and publishing postage stamps for tiger conservation.

In the past century, tiger population from traditional tiger habitats has been decreased by 93%. A century ago, there were 100,000 tigers in Asia and surrounding countries. After 1940, three sub-species of tigers have become extinct and South China tiger has not been spotted in jungles for over 25 years.

Since Tiger Year 1998, 60% of tiger habitats have been destroyed and tigers are now restricted to living in the remaining seven percent of its previous traditional area or range.

According to stats made public by Global Tiger Forum last year, areas such as Nepal, India, Russia, China, Vietnam, America, Europe, Greater Mekong Region (Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, and Vietnam), Indonesia, and Malaysia are deemed as danger zones for tigers, due to poaching, hunting and illegal trade.


Wild Tiger Pictures

Raja - The dominant male tiger in Tourism Zone of Bandipur

Video featuring "Raja"

Tiger from Corbett

Tiger from Panna (Before extinction)

Wagdoh male from Tadoba

Bamera male from Bandhavgarh

Tiger Cubs in ranthambore

MP tiger count was flawed, says ministry

The government on Wednesday admitted of possible flaw in the tiger estimation 2010 with new survey in Madhya Pradesh projecting higher big cat population as against the estimation announced in March 2011. The Madhya Pradesh government had objected to tiger population in the state falling to 257 in 2010 from 300 in 2006 and sought another survey of the six tiger reserves in the state.

"Our preliminary study has found higher tiger population than projected in the estimation," said P R Sinha, Director of Wildlife Institute of India. "The new estimate will be part of the next year's tiger census".

Karnataka's additional principal conservator of forests M S Swaminathan also questioned the estimation saying that if tiger reserves in the state have been rated very good on the 30 performance indices how the increase in big cat population is much less than the national average.

Karnataka's additional principal conservator of forests M S Swaminathan also questioned the estimation saying that if tiger reserves in the state have been rated very good on the 30 performance indices how the increase in big cat population is much less than the national average.

The national average is about 20 % whereas in case of Karnataka
the increase in tiger population was only just five. "Does the government of India wants to say that 30 to 40 tigers have vanished from the state," he said.
Performance evaluation of tiger reserves

Very good: Annamalai, Bandhavgarh, Bandipur, Bhadra, Dangeli-Ansi, Kalakad-Mundanthurai, Kanha, Kaziranga, Mudumalai, Parambikulam, Pench (MP), Periyar, Satpura and Sunderbans

Good: Buxa, Corbett, Dampa, Dudhwa, Manas, Melghat, Nagarhole, Pakke, Pench (Maharashtra), Ranthambore, Tadoba-Andhari

Satisfactory: Achanakmar, Nameri, Namdapha, Sanjay, Sayadari and Valmiki
Poor: Satkosia.

As compared to 2006, there is overall improvement in performance of tiger reserves in India with population rising to 1,706 from 1,411 and poaching cases going down.

The WII now says that Buxa tiger reserve in northern West Bengal have 15 tigers whereas no figure was presented in the estimation report. 

Pointing another flaw in the estimation, former director of Project Tiger P K Sen said nine tigers were caught on camera trap in Valimki tiger reserve in Chhattisgarh but only eight have been recorded in the estimation.

Several tiger experts have doubted the increase in tiger population from 1,411 in 2006 to 1,706 in 2011 despite tiger habitat falling by 12 %. However, V Y Jhala of WII rubbished the claims saying that 81,000 sq kms of tiger land can sustain a population of 1700 tigers, more than half of total tigers in the world.

"If we have to improve tiger population connectivity between different tiger reserves should improve…the biggest loss in tiger habitat has been of the peripheral forest area," Jhala said, while presenting a detailed report on Tiger Estimation 2010.

Another WII scientist V B Mathur made a presentation on performance of 39 tiger reserves in India. Of them 14 were labeled as very good, 11 as good, six as satisfactory and one poor.

"There is a four percent improvement in management of tiger reserves since 2006," he said, while highlighting the issue of 30 % vacant posts of frontline forest-staff as a major challenge in improving the performance further.


'Goa stretch of Western Ghats vital tiger link'

PANAJI: The presence of the big cat in the state received a loud roar of official support, with the ministry of environment and forests considering the Goa stretch of the Western Ghats an important tiger corridor" between Anshi-Dandeli in Karnataka and the Sahyadris in Maharashtra, and confirming occupancy of tigers in the state's forests.

The findings-part of phase one of the study 'Status of tigers, co-predators and prey in India 2010'-are based on data collected in 2009-10 from signs gathered by forest department officials and volunteers in the field. "The evidence on the ground usually covers everything from scats and pug marks to tiger kill," an environmentalist explained.

The report effectively stomps out the state forest department's past denial of the tiger's presence in Goa. Released on Thursday, the report considers the Western Ghats stretch from the Dang forests in Gujarat (including Goa) up to the Palakkad gap in Kerala as one of two corridors with the potential for contiguous tiger occupancy.

Though the exact number of big cats in Goa's forests can be further determined by using the camera trap method- which will be taken up in the third phase of the study and is yet to be started in the state-the report seriously considers the importance of Goa's link to the corridor.

It also refers to the better connectivity of Western Ghats tiger populations as compared to the same in central India and the Shivalik Gangetic plains landscapes, and finds that the habitat matrix in the Western Ghats is more conducive for tiger occupancy.

"However, the habitat connectivity is threatened by plantations, agriculture, industrial and infrastructural development," the report states. It calls for "timely effort to identify and legitimize the minimal corridors" which is needed for the conservation objective of ensuring gene flow between the Western Ghats tiger populations in times to come.


Officials, activists divided over tiger cubs’ relocation

JAIPUR: Sariska's jinx with cubs continues. The latest controversy to grip Sariska comes after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) approved relocation of two cubs, left orphaned by the death of the Kachida tigress at Ranthambore within six months after it was operated upon by the forest authorities.

However, even now senior forest officials are confused whether to relocate the cubs. Interestingly, the NTCA's approval has come only after the state sent it a proposal seeking permission for it.

"The cubs are well-settled in Ranthambore. What is the need to relocate them to Sariska? Moreover, they are very young and the process of tranquilising them before relocation may prove detrimental to their health," said a senior forest official.

They explained the proposal was sent about six months ago and the situation has changed much since then. "There are grown-up tigers roaming in Sariska and the cubs might just stray into their territory and get killed," he added.

But wildlife activists are not willing to buy any of the claims of the officials. "The cubs are more prone to attacks from elder tigers in Ranthambore than at Sariska. Ranthambore is overpopulated and even sub-adult tigers have often strayed from the forest in search of a territory. In such a situation the cubs stand no chance," they added.

Activists also say the original plan sent to NTCA was not to catch the cubs and leave them at Sariska. "The proposal was to leave them in the cage that is built in Sariska where we normally leave any relocated tiger for a period for acclimatisation. Here we could have taught the cubs to hunt on their own by releasing deer within the cage. Once they grew up we could have left them in the wild. Not relocating them after permissions from the NTCA might amount to taking all the responsibility of the well-being of the cubs in Ranthambore on our shoulders," they say.

When contacted, U M Sahai, chief wildlife warden, Rajasthan, said, "We have received the NTCA permission. However, since it is such a long time since the proposal was sent we will write again to the authorities to learn of their opinion as to whether the relocation should be done now."


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Wild Tiger Pictures

Raja - the dominant tiger from Tourism zone of Bandipur

Images Source : http://creativephotoartist.org/modules/blogs/displayBlog.php?blogId=160

Bamera male

Machli - The old tigress from ranthambore

NTCA's 10-member panel to save tiger corridors, habitat

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN Jul 21, 2011, 09.51pm IST

NAGPUR: To check intensive landuse practices like mining, construction of road and railway lines affecting the tiger habitat and corridors, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has set up a 10-member committee of experts.

NTCA is a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) monitoring tiger reserves in the country. The committee will do appraisal of impact of mining, road and rail construction on tiger conservation. The panel of well-known experts from all fields will draw upon the best practices in other countries in this context, while suggesting ecological compatible synergy between conservation and development.

The 10-member panel consists of MK Ranjit Sinh, member, National Board for Wildlife Life (NBWL), Asha Rajwanshi and Qamar Qureshi, both scientists, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, VK Sharma, chief general manager (CGM), NHAI, New Delhi, M Firoz Ahmed, member of NTCA, T Chandni, director (IA), MoEF, HK Chowdhury, AIG (FC), MoEF, one nominee each of the ministry of railways (MoR) and Coal India Limited (CIL), and SP Yadav, deputy inspector general (DIG), NTCA. Yadav will be the member-convener.

Yadav said the terms of reference (ToR) of the committee will include country-level appraisal of the extent of tiger habitat, corridors and other crucial areas for conservation, based on the 2010 all India tiger estimation. The CIL and MoR have been requested to depute their one representative on the panel.

The committee will also appraise ongoing demand for diversion of habitat areas towards infrastructure projects in tiger range states. It will also appraise global best practices adopted to safeguard conservation vis-à-vis intensive land use.

The committee will also make general recommendations for harmonising such land uses vis-à-vis tiger conservation in the Indian context. The panel will submit its report within a period of six months, Yadav added.

MK Ranjit Sinh, chairman of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), confirmed to TOI about his inclusion in the NTCA committee but said as he had just returned from Rajasthan and will have to check the mandate.

The committee has a key role to play while deciding on various ongoing projects threatening tiger corridors in the region. The prime among them includes the four-laning of NH6 by NHAI between Lakhni and Deori. The road widening cuts the tiger corridor between Navegaon National Park and Nagzira wildlife sanctuary, proposed to be declared as tiger reserve.

Another issue is the stalled four-laning of NH7 from Mansar to Rukhad which threatens both Pench tiger reserves. The four-laning will also rip through some compartments of the newly declared Mansingdeo sanctuary. Besides, there are several mining projects around Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), which pose threat to the reserve.


Communities for tigers

By Ameen Ahmed, WWF-India

WWF-India and authorities join hands with communities for long-term conservation of the River Kosi-Baur corridor near Corbett Tiger Reserve

The Terai Arc landscape, shared by India and Nepal, sits at the base of the Himalayas. It is one of the few places in the world where wild tigers, elephants and rhinos still roam. At the heart of the Terai Arc are Corbett Tiger Reserve and the surrounding forests, where a substantial part of WWF-India’s conservation efforts are focused. The forests in the landscape are facing threats like never before: fragmentation and loss of wildlife corridors, unsustainable land-use policy, human-wildlife conflict, overuse of forest resources. Also, poaching of wildlife – both prey and their predators – remains a serious risk to the region’s famed biodiversity.

In 2006, WWF began working with the village of Mankanthpur in the Kosi-Baur wildlife corridor. This village is located in the middle of the elephant and tiger movement area, and is among the top 20 sites for human-tiger conflict.

Women at risk

At first, WWF staff had to earn the trust of community members, understand their livelihoods and routines, and figure out how to minimize the risk of contact with wild tigers. It became clear that women faced the greatest danger, because it was their responsibility to go to the forest to collect firewood and cattle fodder.

Frequent forest fires, caused by the large amount of leaf litter on the forest floor, also threatened the community. Was there some way to keep women safe, and reduce the risk of forest fire? Sometimes you have to look for unlikely solutions.

At the same time WWF was working to protect tigers and reduce human-wildlife conflict, the Indian government was training communities on composting to improve farm yields. WWF asked the forest department to allow community members to remove leaf litter from the areas most prone to forest fires. The leaf litter went to the compost pile, and the forest was less likely to go up in flames during the hot, dry summer months.

WWF-India’s team worked with the Forest Department and the communities to devise a way for the villagers to extract resources from the forest in a sustainable way. Lopping and cutting of wood was prohibited and only fallen branches could be removed. The communities were also informed that they would not be allowed to use certain sections of the forest, the main corridors used by tigers. As you can imagine, they readily agreed. It was also agreed in the village meetings that only the forest fringes would be used to extract the fallen wood, and that each village would extract fodder and firewood just two or three days a week,” says Dr. KD Kandpal, Landscape Coordinator, WWF-India’s Terai Arc Landscape project.

To compensate for the loss of some firewood, WWF has promoted biogas stoves, which have multiple benefits. The cattle are now kept in pens, so people can collect the dung needed to run the biogas stoves. This has decreased the pressure on forests, as there are hardly any cattle grazing inside them. It is also safer for the cattle; in 2006 there were 15 cattle killed by wild carnivores; this dropped to below 10 in 2007 and in 2010 there were only three cattle kills reported on the periphery of the village.

Residents of Mankanthpur village have now become part of community forest patrolling team, along with the Forest Department officials. This has increased the efforts to combat poaching and encroachment, and other unwanted interferences in the forests. Because of their close ties to the forest, residents were able to inform WWF staff that people from other villages were extracting firewood and fodder from the off-limits wildlife corridors. WWF-India’s team approached the authorities along with Mankanthpur villagers to stop this, and the Forest Department ordered the range officer to keep people out of these sensitive and dangerous areas.

A final measure of the success of this project is the absence of retaliatory killing of carnivores by the villagers of Mankanthpur, despite a recent survey showing the presence of tigers in all sections of this forest landscape.

KD Kandpal adds, “The future looks bright for the tigers of this area. The recent tiger survey in the adjacent Ramanagar forest division revealed a density of 12 tigers per 100 sq. km. WWF-India has taken a step forward and started similar work this year in the nearby Pawalgarh village. Our aim is to ensure the corridors are kept for good for generations to come.”


Tiger Genes

The Rajasthan forest department was in a celebratory mood recently when they shifted a new tiger from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) to Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) in the state. The endeavour - part of the relocation drive to repopulate the reserve that went tiger-bare after poachers wiped out the entire population in 2005 - is, however, now in jeopardy.

Wildlife experts have raised doubts on the selection of the newly relocated tiger that has taken the count of tigers in STR to four. Experts believe it is difficult to ascertain whether the tiger sent to STR is actually the one that had been selected after DNA tests. The tests were conducted on eight tigers to ascertain their genetic compatibility with the Sariska tigresses; only two were considered fit for relocation.

Dharmendra Kandhal, a biologist working in Ranthambore, informed Hardnews that the tiger might not be the one that had been selected after DNA tests. He revealed, "Scat (excreta) samples of tigers were sent to Bangalore for DNA tests to avoid genetic incompatibility. The area from where this tiger was selected was regularly frequented by more than eight tigers - so how did the forest department determine which scat sample belonged to whom?"

SP Yadav, DIG, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), didn't rule out the possibility and mentioned that "if it has happened, it is just another case of human error". "You can't expect a person to follow the tiger with a bucket in his hand to ensure that the scat samples are genuine," he said.

To avoid this confusion, Kandhal suggests that a DNA dart could be used - the dart extracts the tissue sample and falls to the ground. "This is a much safer and accurate technology and avoids the uncertainty caused by the obsolete technology of collecting scats," informed Kandhal.

The whole debate surrounding DNA testing surfaced after reports suggested that the three animals - one tiger and two tigresses - shifted to STR in the first phase of translocation between 2008 and 2009 are siblings. Wildlife authorities later confirmed the allegation.

Wildlife experts, scientists and NGOs demanded that the new tigers should be brought in only if DNA tests confirmed that they are not closely related to the tigresses already in STR. Thereafter, the Bangalore-based National Centre of Biological Sciences conducted the tests and zeroed down on two tigers for relocation.

Scientists believe that siblings find it difficult to breed and could trigger 'inbreeding depression' that could amplify the feline mortality rate. "Inbreeding is a condition where genetically similar individuals in a population breed with each other and over time individuals of the population become even more similar to each other. The population suffers from a loss of genetic diversity. This can lead to adverse conditions that result from inbreeding (inbreeding depression) such as muscle degeneration (observed in humans), low sperm count and quality, inability to fight some infections (lowered immunity) etc," apprised Dr Shomita Mukherjee, Principal Scientist, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History.

However, officials in Rajasthan and Delhi call inbreeding a common phenomenon in the wild and believe that most animals in RTR are closely (or distantly) related to each other.

"The present tiger count in RTR is 40 while it was only 14 a few years ago. So, possibly, siblings mated with each other to take the population to its current numbers. There is an unnecessary issue that is being created by the media and so-called experts. Animals choose the best compatible partner to mate with, even if they are siblings. Weak genes are eliminated either by predation or by infighting and these are the rules of the forest," said RN Mehrotra, Chief Wildlife Warden, Rajasthan.

Mukherjee doesn't rule out this possibility and claims, "It need not always be the case that if related individuals breed, their offspring will always be at risk. But the probability that it will, increases with inbreeding." It is perceived that the genes of the RTR population could be severely damaged because of extensive inbreeding.

To ensure genetic variation, tigers could be brought in from other geographical locations, especially the central zone comprising Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Media reports had earlier highlighted that the central government tried to persuade Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to donate a few tigers so that the gene pool of STR could be diversified. However, MP's forest minister made it clear that they had no surplus tigers to donate and refuted claims of receiving any such request from the ministry.

Even the NTCA denies knowledge of any such request. "I am not aware of any such request made by the ministry. We are also reviewing the study done by SP Goyal, a Wildlife Institute of India (WII) scientist, wherein he has mentioned that gene pools of different geographical regions should not be mixed," Yadav said. Hardnews spoke to Goyal and has a copy of the study in which concerns have been raised about mixing tiger populations of different geographical areas - northern, north-eastern, southern, western and central - that have distinct genetics.

Refuting these claims, Mukherjee said, "I have no clue why and on what basis Goyal says tiger populations cannot be mixed. The barriers and fragmentation of habitat that we see today are all due to human-made changes. In fact, tigers should be brought from other places. On the one hand, we rant about fragmented landscapes and talk of connecting these with corridors for greater genetic exchange, and then when we have a chance, we bring in related individuals from a very similar population."

Kandhal agrees with Mukherjee that instead of donating tigers, the two states could work on an exchange programme wherein certain tigers from Ranthambore could be sent to MP and vice versa: "This would help in maintaining a wide pool of genes of tigers and both the states could benefit."

To the forest department's embarrassment, the first tiger relocated to STR failed to impregnate the two tigresses despite mating. Experts believe that since the tigers are closely related, it could have aggravated the problem. "It is foolish to say that the tiger has been unable to impregnate females because of their being closely related. There could be a host of other issues that could lead to this situation," said Yadav. A WII scientist who has been monitoring the tigers in Sariska told Hardnews that tigers have been mating frequently and one of the tigresses has even shown signs of pregnancy. "We could not confirm it as the tigress gets very secretive when pregnant and any disturbance could lead her to stray to the periphery, which could be very dangerous for the animal," he said.

However, KK Garg, Field Director, STR, denied pregnancy of any of the tigresses and maintained that the tigers are too young to produce litter and would only show results in a year's time. "Come after a year and these tigers would produce a healthy litter," said Garg. This fact is refuted by Yadav who said that the tigers are of the right age and healthy enough to mate successfully. He believes that the male tiger could be sterile, but wants to wait before passing the final judgment.

Additionally, this relocation of unrelated tigers from RTR also violates the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guideline that strongly suggests that taking away genetically unrelated animals from a bottlenecked population, as in the case of RTR, would lead to serious inbreeding.

Even NTCA guidelines that have been adapted from IUCN mention that breeding individuals from host populations should not be translocated, but the guideline has been flouted. "The recently relocated tiger (T-12) belongs to the breeding population and has recently mated with a tigress that is carrying his litter," a source said.

Kandhal also claims that the Rajasthan forest department flouted an NTCA guideline which states that male tigers between two to four years and females between two to three years, who are independent of the mother but are yet to establish their territory, should be chosen for translocation.

Kandhal said that T-12 is between the age group of six to seven years and has a territory of his own in the core area. He reveals that instead of choosing a sub-adult who is yet to establish his territory, the forest department went ahead with T-12. "Why has the Rajasthan forest department shifted a tiger that could threaten the host population? They are compromising with the social structure of RTR and it will have an adverse implication on the tiger population of the park," he said.

Responding to this, Yadav mentions that NTCA guidelines have been followed and T-12 was a 'floater' that occupied the peripheral forests. This, Yadav believes, would not compromise with the 'social structure' of the RTR. "We were given a report by the Rajasthan forest department and acted accordingly," said Yadav.

"We have surplus tigers in RTR and they are finding it difficult to find a territory and hence roam around in peripheral forests. This makes them very vulnerable to increasing human-animal conflict that could lead to poaching," said Mehrotra. He added that saturation of tiger numbers in the park is also leading to increasing infighting among the animals and leading to higher mortalities. Two tigresses recently succumbed to injuries after infighting, while villagers poisoned  two young tigers to death.

Interestingly, RTR's geographical area equals that of Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, which boasts four times the number of tigers in RTR. The reason: out of the total 1,300 sq km of RTR, only 300 sq kms is inhabited by tigers while the rest has a shortage of prey base, suffers from massive anthropogenic pressure, and is considered unsafe for animals. The Rajasthan forest department has been unable to manage the remaining 1,000 sq km that includes the Sawai Man Singh sanctuary, the Kela Devi sanctuary and reserve forests.

"The surplus tigers are those that stray out of the 300 sq km and occupy the rest of the park. But since these parks are not well managed, the best bet is to shift these tigers to Sariska rather than let them be poached," said a WII expert.

"We are trying to relocate villages from this area, but it cannot be done in a fortnight as we live in a democratic country where everybody's rights have to be taken into consideration. Also, the enactment of Forest Rights Act has made relocation of villages a little more difficult," said Mehrotra.

However, he believes that the entire controversy surrounding genes, inbreeding, floaters et al is being created at the behest of the strong tourism lobby of RTR that believes moving tigers out from the reserve could mean lesser tiger sightings and eventually a sharp drop in profits. He feels that STR would soon boast a healthy tiger population, laying all speculation to rest. "Is restricting inbreeding at the cost of losing a species a viable solution?" he asked.

Meanwhile, the villagers in the heart of STR, unaware of the controversy, believe that the real tigers of STR have been lost forever. "The tiger that the forest babus got from RTR behaves more like a dog. It follows vehicles as if he is waiting for people to drop food and growls like a domestic cat. The tigers that once ruled our forests were ferocious and roamed like kings. No wonder this tiger has not been able to mate successfully," said a grinning Nanakram Gujjar of Haripura, a village within the STR core.


My take on this subject. It is a big crime against nature to force related tigers to breed. Everyone should know tigers in Ranthambore are highly inbred. Ranthambore survived 2 biggest poaching menace in 90s and in early 2000 which destroyed much of the gene pool. Meanwhile the corridors which once linked Ranthambore to other state forests were also destroyed which effectively stopped tigers from other forest to come into Ranthambore to exchange gene pool. Currenly Ranthambore is like an island of inbred, unhealthy, sick tigers. The glorious days of mighty Genghis the ferocious male tiger who dominated Crocs and bears are gone. The current stock of tigers in Ranthambore look unhealthy and sick like inbred Asiatic lions in Gir forest. That's why the scientists classified Ranthambore as TCU-III (Tiger conservation unit-III). That means there is no long term hope for tigers in this park. The biggest menace of poaching is decimation of gene pool. Once a gene pool is gone, it will never come back. You can produce 100 tigers from 2 tigers like they do in Zoos in China. But, would that be healthy tigers ? Like villagers  in Sariska say, it is a dog in tiger clothing. The only solution to produce healthy offspring in Sariska is borrowing tigers from another gene pool, possibly from a dispersing sub-adult tigers from MP or Maharastra forest. That is only temporary solution. Long term solution is to re-establish corridor between Sariska and Ranthambore, re-establish corridor between Ranthambore and MP forest.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wild Tiger Pictures

Raja, male tiger from Bandipur

Tiger from Kabini, Nagarhole tiger reserve.

Bamera male from Bandhavgarh

Tigers from Kanha

Tigress from Ranthambore

Tigress from Bandipur

Camera trap photos of Tigers

Tigers from Chitwan national park, Nepal.

Narayani Majurtika Area - ISLAND Male tiger

Munda Bhale

Tiger from Hukaung Valley of Myanmar

Young tiger from Bhutan

Tigers from the research done by tiger expert Dr.Ullas Karanth

"Slamet", the first radio-collared sumatran tiger