Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol.1 Issue X

Exotic Species Introduction Vs Native species reintroduction

It is my pleasure to bring you the newsletter Vol 1, Issue no. X on the eve of Deepavali – the festival of lights. May this Deepavali remove the darkness before our eyes and help us see the right approach to save our wildlife and wilderness.

The African Cheetah and Indian One horned Rhino: A study of an exotic species introduction and a native species reintroduction

Reintroduction of an animal is often perceived as a good thing. If an animal becomes locally extinct then one can always bring back from a neighbouring country. It gives a good feeling, of turning back the clock. However, are we actually turning back the clock?

We are hurtling down an abyss at the speed of a Formula 1 car, without of course its brakes. The environmental destruction and the consequent climate change and its impact are still not being fathomed in its entirety. In the backdrop of this disturbing reality, do we need the artificial satisfaction of turning back the clock by introducing African Cheetahs in India?

We have lost the Sumatran Rhino, Asiatic Cheetah, Himalayan quail to name a few. These and other such species that has gone extinct reminds us about those wanton killings, clearing up huge tracts of forest on the pretext of so called development, drowning huge tracts of wilderness areas by ill planned dams. It is a fact that we have abused nature and have been continuing to do so. Introducing a charismatic species – albeit a different subspecies than the one that that gone extinct – will serve in giving us a temporary and misguided sense of satisfaction of correcting a historical blunder.

Dr R L Eaton, who had worked on charismatic species like Cheetah was of the view that these animals should not be transported. Also a study on zoo tigers by Dembiec, D. P., Snider, R. J. and Zanella, A. J. in 2004 had noted that “Average respiration rates of all tigers increased from 56.1 breaths/min to 94.6 breaths/min during transport and to 132.3 breaths/min 10 min following release into their enclosures. Average immune-reactive cortisol concentrations peaked 3-6 days after transport at 239% above baseline and returned to baseline levels 9-12 days afterward”.
For further details please check the following link:

It is of course another matter that, in the past there have been tiger deaths due to improper dosage during tranquilisation, in cases involving foreign as well as Indian experts. Of course, the experts as well as cases where our Vets are involved have never accepted the fact.

The ministry has given the in principle go-ahead to the introduction of the African Cheetah in India, on the specious plea that there is not much difference between the African cheetah and the Asiatic cheetah. Of course, we know that “not much difference” means they are not the same. I wonder whether any detailed studies have been conducted to ascertain the degree of variation between the Asiatic Cheetah and the Indian Cheetah. I wish the Ministry places all the supporting documents and studies before the public for the sake of transparency.

I don’t think much would be achieved by the introduction of the African cheetah in India, except for shifting focus from pressing conservation issues. For further details, please click on the following link for discussions on introducing African Cheetah in India.

Rhinos introduced 27 years back are still in captivity

Rhino Reintroduction:
It would be pertinent to look at the state of our Rhinos reintroduced about 27 years back in Dudhwa. They were housed in and they continue to be in captivity to date. Now a turf war is ranging among them due to the cramped space. So it is a case of shifting them from wild to a cramped enclosure.

Is this what reintroduction is meant to be?

That means another set of wild animals – the African cheetah – albeit exotic, is going to meet the same fate. For our entertainment we are going to snuff the freedom out of a few African Cheetahs. I hope the MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) reconsiders its decision to introduce the African Cheetah in India. Please write to the Hon’ble Minister for Environment and Forests Shri Jairam Ramesh (email at and letter at Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110003) urging him to drop the project and rather focus on the more immediate task of revitalising our approach to wildlife management.

River Linking:
The central Govt. has announced shelving of the River linking project. This scheme if implemented would have caused tremendous damage to the environment. Species of flora and fauna, and I am sure some of them yet to be discovered, would have been wiped away.
Unfortunately, a day after the announcement by the Central Government the AP Government has announced its intention to link the rivers in Andhra. I am surprised that the state leadership of the same party takes a decision opposite to that of its central leadership. It seems grand schemes, however, muddle headed it may be has got its followers. For further details you may view the following link:

Proposed YSR memorial on 1412 hectares in NSTR:
The AP Government has announced a plan to setup a memorial in the dense forests of NSTR. That would take up 1412 hectares or 14.12 square kilometers of pristine forests. The amount to be spent is 315 crores and the Government expects it to become an important tourist spot.

It is one of those ideas that have come from the loyal supporters. However, destroying a pristine wilderness area to construct a memorial is certainly not a good idea. Especially, since this is in the core area, the AP Govt. can’t denotify it on its own. Please raise your voice against this. You may write to the Hon’ble CM of AP Shri K. Rosaiah (Greenland’s Circle, Begumpet, Hyderabad – 500016, email: and fax: 044-23452498), Hon’ble Minister for Environment and Forests Shri Jairam Ramesh (email at or and letter at Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110003) urging them to prevent this destruction of a critical tiger habitat.
Poisoning Wildlife:

It has come to the notice that Poachers have started poisoning Rhinos in Kaziranga. It is a very unfortunate situation and should be dealt with a strong hand. Exemplary punishment can deter poachers from such a heinous crime. For detailed discussion on the subject please click on the following link:

Revitalizing Indian Forest Service:
Our wilderness and wildlife is facing its worst crisis due to the relentless assault by poachers, drowning of huge forest land by massive ill planned dams, roads cutting across forests, industries coming up in wetlands, Research centers being drilled through the hills, and last but not the least the forest department chasing misplaced priorities. It is time for the forest department to be reengineered and priorities set right.

An original article by Ranbir Mahapatra and the discussions on it can be viewed at the following link:

Tigers in Sanctuaries to get ID Cards:
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has issued an advisory to all the 17-tiger range states to keep an ID card specifying the details of each tiger in their sanctuaries, The identity card will be have a photograph of the tiger and its skin print, a unique characteristic of each predator, kill data and camera trap as well as radio collar records with regular updates of its behavior. The details and discussions on the topic can be found here:

Though we should track our tigers, I am surprised that why the NTCA wants to promote invasive techniques like radio collaring all the tigers. Don’t we want our wildlife to roam free? Why do we always decide the fate of other species? And it is mostly detrimental to them. Why do we Play God? Some similar views on the subject by Ranbir Mahapatra:

Please write to the Secretary NTCA Shri Rajesh Gopal (Bikaner House, Annexe-V, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi-110011. Tele Fax: 011- 23384428 ) urging him to kindly modify the advisory to drop the invasive radio collar idea.

Please remember that your voice matters. This newsletter reaches to 550 members of IndiaWilds and more than 1000 non members. It would have a great impact if each one of you raise your voice.

Natural History:
Langur Debarking:
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Wilderness Updates:
Wildlife tourism ought to be non-consumptive ie. tourism should not have any long term impact on the wilderness areas and wildlife and nothing should be removed from the area. However, wildlife tourism in India is far from non-consumptive and has impact on wildlife. In case of Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, which is also under the Project Elephant, fishing is allowed in the core area. The interpretation is that “Manual angling of fish, catching and releasing does not amount to fishing” and it is supposed to be creating “intimacy and awareness”. For further details please click on the link below:

Wildlife Photography:

I am sharing a few links to some of the fine images shared by our members:
A spot on Gaur that looks similar to the Sore spot found on Sambars.

Dhole killing Cheetal by Praveen Siddannavar

Wild Ass by Atul Dhamankar

Parambikulam by Bibhav Behera

An abstract vertical composition of Jog falls by Dr Hari Venkatesh K R

Skink by Jitendra Katre

Painted Grasshopper by Hari Iyer

Indian Burrowing Frog by Abhishek Jamalabad

Equipment Discussions:
This new section discusses the new releases of equipment as well as offers suggestions on suitability of equipment to our members.
Look forward to your inputs and your support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in this beautiful country. For other interesting articles and photographs please check:

Sabyasachi Patra
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(Circulated in October 2009)

Sabyasachi Patra
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