IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 10 Issue XII

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 10 Issue XII

ISSN 2394 – 6946

Download the full Newsletter PDF by clicking the below button –
IndiaWilds Newsletter-December-2018 (7.1 MB, 191 downloads)

Trishanku: Indian Elephant nowhere to go

IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF - December 2018

IndiaWilds Newsletter PDF – December 2018

When will we be ashamed of our actions? This question comes to us again and again when we see the sad photo of an elephant lumped over a 10 feet tall fence made of discarded railway iron sleepers.

Reports suggest that initially to discourage elephants from crop raiding a fence was made of railway iron sleepers. However, elephants being intelligent animals, the 4 feet high sleepers were easy for them to cross over. The forest department to physically stop the elephants from moving into the fields increased the height of the fence to 10 feet.

When a shouting stone throwing mob of villagers chased elephants to the jungle, one of them panicked and tried to jump this 10 feet tall fence made of discarded railway iron sleepers. Unfortunately, the fence was too tall for the elephant and half of its body got stuck on the iron fence. The elephant was left hanging. It would have suffered because of its massive body weight crushing its heart and lungs over the iron barrier and would have died a painful death. The din created by the mob would have drowned the cry of agony of the elephant.

Elephant dies on Forest department fence

Apart from the immense cruelty that this incident conveys, a lot of cynical people feel that this is bound to happen as the elephants were crop raiding and are a nuisance. A majestic creature revered as vehicle of Gajalaxmi and also as Lord Ganesha has fallen from its high pedestal to be branded as nuisance, crop raider etc. It is now a National Heritage animal only in paper as it is fighting a grim battle for survival.

It is sad that the people responsible for this incident and the authorities don’t face any consequences for this death. They simply shrug off the problem under the garb of Man-Elephant Conflict.

The authorities don’t care about the core issue behind this death.

Elephants are designed to be far ranging in their habits as they need a huge amount of food as well as a varied diet. A small area will immediately become barren if they devour all the grasses, bushes, leaves, tree barks and other vegetation. So they have to move and feed.

We humans have appropriated most of the land. Hardly 4% of India’s landmass is under the Protected Area network. And only a small part of our notified Protected Areas are part of the elephant habitat. Forests have been hemmed in from all sides by human habitations. So this causes huge problems from the elephants.

The traditional migratory routes of elephants have been blocked due to human habitations, canals, roads, railway lines etc. This is also causing them to lose their traditional memory of migratory paths. With the passing away of old leaders the new generation who had never traversed those paths now face increasingly tough times as they don’t know what to do in different seasons. Since people grow crops in the traditional elephant habitat, it becomes easy for elephants to come to the cultivated fields and consume crops. Elephants also get lot of nutrition from crops so it comes as a bonus as well.

Earlier, our people were more religious and used to believe that any misfortune of crop loss due to weather gods or pests or wildlife is due to their own fate. Firing at and killing an elephant was an act of sacrilege. Today, the old reverence is gone. Gods today are mostly a medium to make money, despite the outwardly sign of reverence.

Farmers are also under tremendous pressure due to the faulty APMC act and most of the money is made by middlemen and farmers get a pittance. Often farmers don’t even recover their investment. So the farmers can’t even tolerate any loss of crops. So farmers taking their ire on elephants feeding on the crops and the resulting conflict should be more carefully thought out by the forest department.

The forest department helps create trenches which elephants can’t cross. However, over a period of time the trenches get filled up. Elephants are also intelligent animals and they kick mud to fill up the trenches. They are known to even throw logs at solar fencing to break the current. So the forest department had come out with the stupid idea of physically restraining the elephants from crop raiding by installing 10 feet high railway iron rails.

When you try to physically restrain the elephants from crop raiding it leads to conflict. The elephants have no where to go as their traditional migratory paths are cut off in number of cases.

The forests have also lost the biodiversity due to the presence of invasive species like Lantana camara, Parthenium etc. These invasive species outcompete the native vegetation. So it becomes difficult and strenuous task for the elephants to get their food.

Elephants struggle to find grass in the midst of lantana and parthenium infestation

Elephants struggle to find grass in the midst of lantana and parthenium infestation

Anthropogenic pressures like cattle grazing also has an effect in reducing the availability of forage. People enter into the forests to lop off branches. In an ideal habitat different species bloom and fruit in different times of the year. So elephants have diverse species of vegetation to feed on. With loss of biodiversity, elephants have to obviously look for food and find crops as nutritious and necessary for their survival.

If we want our elephants to survive we have to allow them to feed on crops. The forest department should tell the people not to fire crackers, throw stones, chilli bombs etc on elephants. After the elephants consume crops in the fields, the forest department can survey the damage and pay the fair compensation to people.

Anyway, farmers don’t get much money by selling their crops to middlemen due to political parties turning a blind eye to the problems of APMC act. Farmers are not allowed to participate in lot of markets. There are monopolies in local market (mandi) where the farmers are allowed to sell. There is also cartelisation in the mandi, which results in the price discovery mechanism being gamed to give a very low price to the farmers. In many cases farmers are known to not even make any money. So the elephants consuming crops should be seen as godsend. The farmers would be spared from the challenge of transporting the crops to the mandi, incurring cost in the process and not get the right amount. When forest department gives immediate and fair compensation amount to the farmers, they will be happy and not retaliate. Elephants have a long memory. When they see that people are not retaliating, they will also not indulge in counter attacking people. The human-elephant conflict will be resolved.

An angry elephant charges at people in conflict zone

An angry elephant charges at people in conflict zone

We are at a time when we are actively discussing loan-waivers for farmers. We acknowledge that our food security is dependent on our farmers. And our food security is also dependent on the ecological well being of our forests, rivers and mountains and other lands. So the Governments of various states should see this as an opportunity to end conflict and lead to peaceful coexistence.

The forest department should immediately create a mobile app which collates the actual images of the cropland where elephants have consumed crops. Photographs can be directly uploaded to the app and it can be collated and analysed and immediately compensation disbursed. This data can also be made available for forecasting of crops for the Agriculture ministry as well.

The Government is bearing massive losses from scams done by corporates. A recent case in the point is ILFS. Before the ILFS scam jeweller Nirav Modi fled abroad with some 22000 crores scam. According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, between April 2014 and April 2018 India’s 21 public sector banks wrote off Rs. 3,16,500 crores or 3165 billion rupees. Such massive losses are shaking up the banking system and soon the banks need to be recapitalised. There are way too many frequent scams by corporates that have singed the banks and ultimately public money is spent in recapitalising and loan write offs. In such a situation, Government of India as well as State Governments spending money on a just cause like providing compensation for crop loss to reduce people chasing and killing elephants shouldn’t be a big problem. If India cares for its Natural Heritage Animal, then it has to take these steps to save the elephant.

India is a country which has the technical knowhow to even send a spacecraft to Mars at a cost less than what is needed to make a blockbuster Hollywood movie. All it needs is will power. Whether our Government ministers and officials have it or not is a million dollar question.



Industrial hub or Biodiversity trove? – What is your choice!

By Amar Kumar Nayak

Industrial hub or Biodiversity trove? – What is your choice!


Conservation News:

NTCA seeks action against officials for Satkosia Tiger death coverup

The death of tiger, nicknamed Mahavir, in Satkosia on 14th November has now been confirmed to be due to snare. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has confirmed that there were attempts made by the Satkosia tiger reserve authorities to conceal the fact.

The NTCA Inspector General Shri Amit Mallick had visited Satkosia to probe the death of Mahavir who was relocated from Kanha in Madhya Pradesh to repopulate Satkosia. The NTCA report says “Prima facie analysis and nature of injury sustained, tracking team observations and independent interactions with field staff reveal that the death is due to injury sustained from a snare trap and a clear case of poaching. Evidently, the concerned field authorities are attempting to conceal facts in respect of the death of T1 which is due to snaring”.

Now that the Odisha PCCF wildlife has received the report it is to be seen what action is being taken.

Mahavir tiger death Satkosia

Mahavir tiger dies due to snare in Satkosia

The Satkosia tiger relocation project was the first tiger relocation effort where tigers are moved from different states. It needed support of two state Governments. Unfortunately this first of a kind tiger relocation scheme is jeopardized due to the officials not taking enough precautions as well as lack of monitoring. The people of the area have become hostile as they have not been taken into confidence and also because there are lobbies who don’t want a tiger in the forest so that poaching and wood cutting can continue unabated.

The tigress T2 which was moved from bandhavgarh is now captured and kept inside the enclosure. It is believed that the tigress after being kept for more than 40 days in the enclosure lost her sharpness and ability to kill wild herbivores and resorted to cattle lifting. She has been accused of killing two people as well. The NTCA report has come down heavily on this aspect as well. The NTCA report says “The tigress has been put through tremendous stress and needs to be conditioned or ‘rewilded’ before it is fit for release into the wild. The rehabilitation enclosure holding T2 needs adequate wilderness enrichment and modification”.

The NTCA report suggests “Capacity building of staff, community engagement, relocation of villages, prey augmentation and distribution assessment, veterinary care and capacity, real time monitoring and elephant squad need to be seriously functional in the desired manner, before we can attempt to restart the tiger augmentation process, presently kept in abeyance”.

These days it is very rare to get the support of the Chief Minister for conservation efforts. However, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had personally written letters to different states for tiger relocation and Madhya Pradesh had agreed. So it is really unfortunate the way Odisha forest department authorities have mishandled the situation. It has brought all round shame on Odisha as well as the competence of its officers. It is not known if the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is even aware about the tiger death and the incompetence of these officers. We hope his secretariat informs him. Conservationists and general public should also protest on this gross incompetence, negligence and criminal coverup of the poaching incident.


India’s snow tigers

The uniqueness of India’s huge landmass and its wildlife never fails to amaze us. Earlier Amur tigers were known to live in snow. However, for the first time it has been scientifically proved that India too has regions where tigers live in snow.

Snow tiger

Snow tiger                                                                      Image Courtesy – Wildlife Institute of India (WII)

A three year study by a Wildlife Institute of India (WII) team has found tigers in snow clad mountains in Dibang valley in Arunachal Pradesh at an altitude of 3630 meters. WII scientists GV Gopi and Aisho Sharma Adhikarimayum carried out this study across 336 square kilometers of Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary. 108 camera traps were deployed and presence of 11 tigers including 2 cubs were established through the camera trap images.

The study was conducted in the river valleys. So it is also expected that tigers would be present even at the higher reaches. The Idu Mishmi tribe are known to accord huge respects to the tigers. That respect along with the remote region has helped tigers survive despite official ignorance about the presence of tigers in the region. The study findings should help further scientific studies as well as converting the area into tiger reserve and higher degree of protection.


NGT directs Govt. to declare Kedarnath ESZ by Jan end

The National Green Tribunal has directed MoEF&CC to declare the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary as Ecosensitve Zone (ESZ) before January 31 2019. Doaba Paryavaran Samiti, an NGO, had filed a petition in 2015 to stop helicopter services and declare ESZ for Kedarnath Wildlife sanctuary.

Helicopter services have been in operation after permission was granted in May 10, 2006. The Uttarakhand Government had engaged Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to conduct a study on the impact of helicopter service on wildlife. WII study has suggested that helicopters fly at an altitude of 600m except ofcourse during landing and takeoff.

The world is now waking up to the impact of anthropophony on wildlife. Loud noise due to helicopters cause lot of stress on the wildlife. It changes their behaviour, vocalization, stops them from using certain areas and also can cause miscarriage.

Unrestrained tourism to holy places like Kedarnath and other wilderness areas causes a massive impact on the wildlife, degrades the place as well as results in pollution. The Government should create suitable restrictions because if a fraction of our country’s1.3 billion population decides to land up on a place then the place will be devastated for ever. The Government is known to play around and make a mockery of the ESZ by reducing it to as small as 100meters in some cases. Hope better sense prevails while notifying the ESZ for Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. Save the Himalaya: –


Killer Wheels: Three Lions mowed down by Goods train

A pride of six lions have been reduced to half as three of those were mowed down by a Goods train going from Botad to Pipavav. The incident occurred near Borala village in Amreli village.

India’s wildlife is under constant threat from linear projects like roads, railways, canals. And one of the biggest culprit is the Indian Railways. Countless large predators and mega herbivores have been wiped away by the killer railways. Now it is the turn of lions and half of a pride of six lions were wiped out in one single train. Two male lions and one female, part of a pride of six, died. The train involved in the accident was a goods train travelling to Pipavav from Botad. This tragic deaths occurred at 12.45 am on 18th of December.

What makes matters worse is that India’s lions are now restricted to Gujarat. The Government of Gujarat despite the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision ( to relocated lions to Kuno-Palpur in Madhya Pradesh to create a second home has refused to obey in the name of Gujrat asmita saying lions are pride of Gujarat and can’t be given to other states. The underlying fact is Gujarat doesn’t want other states to earn tourism revenue from lions. Typical business decision camouflaged as pride of a state. Well that is how politics is these days in India!

Meanwhile lions keep on dying. According to statistics of Gujarat Government 104 lions had died in 2016 and 80 lions died in 2017. Recently 23 lions were found dead in Gir. 11 of them died between September 12 and 19th in Dalkhaniya range of Gir. Initially the forest department said that they died due to infighting. However, later more sick lions were noticed and the forest department then shifted 12 sick lions to rescue centre where they died. ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) scientists from National Institute of Virology Pune has found that there was active transmission of Canine Distemper (CDV) virus in at least 21 lions. Time and again it has been pointed out that 1000 lions had died en masse in Serengeti in 1994 due to an outbreak of canine distemper virus. Since lions in India are confined to only one place, outbreak of such a deadly virus can exterminate our lions and the Asiatic lion species can become extinct. Unfortunately, the Gujarat Government has not listened to sage advice.

The Gujarat Government under Shri Narendra Modi had refused to relocate lions. So it was clear that with him as Prime Minister, the lion relocation will not happen. So five years have passed since the Supreme Court judgment but lion relocation has not happened. Now the lions are under serious threat of extinction and no one else but Mr. Modi should take the blame.


Outcome of COP24 Positive says India

The 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) was held in Katowice, Poland on 02nd -15th December 2018. The conference was a significant one as it focused on three key issues including finalization of guidelines/ modalities/ rules for the implementation of Paris Agreement, the conclusion of 2018 Facilitative Talanoa Dialogue and the stock take of Pre-2020 actions implementation and ambition.
India demonstrated the spirit of commitment and leadership during the COP-24 by reiterating its promise to implement the Paris Agreement in its spirit and to act collectively to address climate change. India engaged positively and constructively in all the negotiations while protecting India’s key interests including recognition of different starting points of developed and developing countries; flexibilities for developing countries and consideration of principles including equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC).

The guidance on Nationally Determined Contributions preserves the nationally determined nature of NDCs and provides for Parties to submit different types of contributions including adaptation. The overall guidance reflects the principles of the Paris Agreement and recognizes the leadership that developed countries have to display for achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

The guidance on adaptation recognizes the adaptation needs of developing countries and is built on the overarching principle of CBDR-RC. The differentiation has been operationalized by incorporating provisions on providing support for adaption activities of developing country parties.
India has been in favor of a robust transparency regime, and the finalized Enhanced Transparency Framework builds upon the existing guidelines while providing flexibilities for developing countries.

The guidance on finance provisions operationalizes the obligation of developed countries in providing means of implementation to developing countries and recognizes the need for climate finance to be new and additional and climate specific. Parties have also agreed to initiate the work on setting up the new collective finance goals post-2020 from the floor of USD 100 billion.

The overarching framework for technology recognizes the need for enhanced support towards operationalization of the framework and comprehensively covers all stages of technology development and transfer.

The modalities for Global Stocktake take into consideration the core principles of equity and includes assessment of collective progress on all the pillars of climate action.

India also engaged in a meaningful way in the 2018 Facilitative Talanoa Dialogue and stock take exercise on Pre-2020 implementation and ambition. The Talanoa Dialogue was an inclusive and participatory process, which led to exchanging best practices between all stakeholders. The pre-2020 stock take exercise also led to a meaningful dialogue with developed countries being urged to step up their actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to address gaps in the provision of technology, finance and capacity-building support. The outcome on dialogue also recalls the commitment of developed country Parties to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020. It also notes with concern the current, urgent and emerging needs related to extreme weather events and slow onset events in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

India considers the outcome of COP 24 a positive one which addresses concerns of all Parties and sets us on the path towards successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.


Cabinet approves MoC between India and Japan in the field of Environmental Cooperation

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between India and Japan. The MoC was signed on 29th October 2018 during the visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India to Japan.

The Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) will enable establishment and promotion of closer and long-term cooperation between India and Japan in the field of environment protection and management of natural resources on the basis of equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits, taking into account the applicable laws and legal provisions in each country. Further, the MoC entails exchange of information and technology between the two countries.

Environmental degradation falls on the socially and economically disadvantaged, more heavily than better-off sections of the society. Any effort at thwarting environmental degradation would lead to environmental equity in the sense of availability of sound environmental resources to all sections of the society. The MoC is expected to bring in the latest technologies and best practices suited for bringing about better environment protection, better conservation, better management of climate change and bio-diversity conservation.


Equipment Discussions:

Angelbird launches massive 1TB AV Pro CF CFast card

Anyone who shoots in the latest cinema cameras like Canon C300 Mark II, Canon C200 or in cameras like Canon 1DXII, Blackmagic Pocket 4K, Ursa Mini etc understands the pain that CFast 2.0 cards have become. To shoot highresolution 4K files one needs the CFast 2.0 cards which are not only costly but also get filled up fast. A 128 Gb CFast 2.0 card gets filled in about 20 mins if you are filming with the Canon 1DXII. You get similar or slightly more write times in other cameras. Fortunately, Angelbird has now launched a massive 1TB AV Pro CF CFast 2.0 card. So now you don’t need to stop shooting midway to change your card.

 1TB AV Pro CF CFast card

1TB AV Pro CF CFast card

The new 1TB angelbird AV Pro CF CFast card costs $899.90 US dollars and is available now.

The anglebird 1TB CFast card reads at speeds upto 550 MB/s (sequential read speed). The sustained read speed is upto 530 MB/s. The Sequential write speed is upto 450 MB/s and sustained write speed is 430 MB/s. These figures are based on internal testing. So the figures may vary based on different cameras. Actual performance in the field needs to be seen.

The reliability specs according to anglebird the MTBF ie Mean time between failures is 2,400,000 hours or 2.4 million hours

There are built in EDC and ECC functions. Data retention figures is stated to be 10 years at 25°.

The specified operating range for the cards are between 0° to 70°C. It can be stored from -40° to +85°C. The shock resistance is 50G and vibrating resistance is 3.1G.

They are offering 3 year limited warranty. And it is subjected to the condition that the product needs to be registered on the Angelbird Personal Service Portal within 30 days after purchase. If not registered within this period, the market-specific legal guarantee period comes into force.

Officially these cards are recommended to be used with Atomos, Canon, Phantom camera, Blackmagic Design, Hasselblad and others. If these angelbirds cards prove to be robust enough then it would be a big help to shooters.



Natural History

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan: ‘A Hunter turned scavenger‘ shared By Saktipada Panigrahi


Wildlife Photography

Tigress in Kabini by Shyamala Kumar

Leopard in Mudumalai by Jerin Dinesh

Elephants in Munnar by V S Sankar!

Osprey with catch by Sandipan Ghosh

Malabar-Thrush in Eravikulam by Mrudul Godbole

Skimmers from Satkosia by Sabyasachi Patra

Spiti river in Himachal by Jitendra Katre

Crocodile in river Vashishthi by Deepak Mistry

Robberfly with bee catch by Prajwal Ullal

Jewel Bug by Anil Kumar Verma


This is the 120th Issue of IndiaWilds.

The photo of an elephant mud bathing adorns the cover. This wild elephant is in its own home and enjoying its routine mud bathing without anyone disturbing its peace. However, the habitat of elephants are shrinking at an alarming rate. Their corridors are cut off and their seasonal movements are cutoff due to the hand of man. These elephants can communicate with each other using infrasonic waves which can travel long distances. When an elephant is in distress due to road or train accident or chased and killed by people, other elephants can also know it. Being sentient creatures they mourn their dead. If they become more aggressive when they hear the plight of their fellow elephants it is only man who is to be blamed. Unfortunately in any conflict the elephant is the ultimate loser. We are 1.3 billion in this country and no other species can withstand the destructive hand of man. Will we ever change our ways and allow elephants and other wildlife to live in peace?

I look forward to your inputs and support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in our beautiful country and raising awareness about it. For other interesting articles and images check –

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Sabyasachi Patra

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IndiaWilds Newsletter-December-2018 (7.1 MB, 191 downloads)
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