Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 3 Issue V

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 3 Issue V

This issue of IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 3 Issue V examines the sad state of the elephant and other topics. This newsletter is available online. To view and to post your comments check at:

A God in Distress:

With much fanfare the Elephant Task force was constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Task Force after many deliberations and public consultations created the report. Accepting its recommendation, the MoEF declared the Elephant as the National Heritage Animal. It also, announced creation of an independent authority along the lines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. It appeared that perhaps Lord Ganesha – the elephant headed God – instilled some sense and purpose to save the elephant.

Alas! It is not to be.

When the report of the Elephant Task Force was released, there were doubts expressed towards the implementation of the recommendations of the Elephant Task Force. There were also doubts expressed regarding the utility of creating one powerful authority along the lines of the NTCA as elephant is protected under the Schedule I. People suggested that since elephant is classified in the same schedule as the tiger, implementation of the wildlife act is more important rather than creating more bureaucracy in form of a separate authority. Showing will power to implement the existing acts is more important than creating elaborate protection mechanisms.

However, one can also argue that the mongoose is also classified under the same Wildlife Protection Act. Virtually, every day many of these die under the tyres of a speeding vehicle or are illegally killed for their fur. Predictably, including a species under the Schedule I is not going to solve the issue. It was hoped that the decision to create a National Elephant conservation Authority, would have brought in more focus on saving the elephant.

With the PMO shooting down the proposal, and no announcement regarding this by the MoEF, one wonders whether there is really any seriousness shown by the present Government in protecting our vanishing wilderness and wildlife.

It is an open secret that the present Government is trying its best to show its populist face. In the mad rush towards the 9% economic growth, our wilderness areas are sacrificed at an alarming rate. The elephant task force report estimates that the total forest land diverted for mining between 1985 and 2005 was 95002.6 hectares. Open cast mining has led to the fragmentation of habitat especially in Singbhum, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Angul, Dhenkanal, Phulbani and has resulted in increased Human-Elephant conflicts. In such a situation, the suggestion by the Elephant Task Force to identify and reclaim the corridors used by elephants would have hit the mining lobby and other infrastructure projects. It is perhaps a good political move to nip in the bud an authority which could have come as a thorn in the flesh. It might be pertinent to mention that, a recent meeting of the National Board of Wildlife was conducted without the members having received the agenda and there was hardly any time given to discuss the issues.

The Elephant Task Force had recommended an allocation of Rs. 200 crores for securing the elephant corridors which amounts to 80 crores per year. With the high price of land, one can realise that even this is highly insignificant given the large area that needs to be secured. Given the state of affairs, when allocation for project tiger is reduced, one can safely assume that there won’t be sufficient allocation to secure the elephant landscapes.

And if an expert like Dr. R Sukumar – who was a member of the Elephant Taskforce – has his way, then elephants found near human habitations which are not considered close to their habitat, would be captured and sent to elephant camps. For more details on the report published in The Hindu, you may check here:

It is certainly a sad moment that our experts appear to have accepted that elephant is a lost cause and can’t be saved. I hope there are enough conservationists and well wishers of the Elephant, who won’t give up and will fight for saving the elephant and its wild habitat. After all, apart from the religious and emotional reasons, the elephant landscapes are source to numerous streams and rivers. Unless our fresh water resources are protected, our existence will be in peril.

Other Conservation News:

Jhurjhura Tigress:

A year has passed since the Jhurjhura tigress was mowed down by a forest department jeep in the night in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Despite numerous petitions, news flash in press etc, the culprit is still not punished. When will justice be done? If a much photographed tiger in a premier tiger reserve can be killed and no action taken, then it certainly speaks volumes about our commitment towards our wildlife and wilderness areas. Celebrating World Environment Day and Van Mahotsav’s and making grand announcements will not save our precious wilderness areas. I would urge all of you to voice your protest again. In a democracy we can keep on trying hoping that finally our voice is strong enough to force change.

Birds cannot be kept in cages – HC:

In an interesting judgment the Gujarat High Court has ordered that keeping birds in cages violates their fundamental rights. For more details please check here:
I am sure it is now time to think of abolishing zoos as well. For more details please check here:

Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary:

Kuno Wildife Sanctuary, which is the designated place for the lion relocation project is still awaiting the lions as the Gujarat Government hasn’t given its consent for the relocation. In the meanwhile, a tiger code named T-38 from Ranthambhaore could manage to reach it despite there is no contiguity between the two reserves. A report by Vikram Nanjappa:

MP Chief Wildlife Warden favours mining in Reserve Forests:

If it is becoming difficult to protect, then why not allow the illegal activities? That is the message from Dr. Pabla, the Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh. It appears that since local officials complained of difficulty in controlling illegal mining due to lack of resources in the forest department, the Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh now wants to give up and allow mining in the reserve forests. For more details please check here:

Wildlife Photography and Musicians by Vikram Nanjappa

An interesting discussion started by Vikram Nanjappa about what photographers can learn from musicians.

Wildlife Photography:

Images shared by our members between 10th April 2011 – 9th May, 2011 that depict interesting animal behaviour or are just plain beautiful.

Mirchahani Boy on chase by Dipankar Mazumdar

Mirchani Male Cab by Neil Mehta

Civet by Mrudul Godbole

Leopard and Cub by Praveen Siddannavar

A tiger from Sundarbans by Ananda Banerjee

Grey Hypocolius by Sreeram M. V.

The Sweetest Kiss by Subramanian Mani

Black and Orange Flycatcher female by Shreeram M. V.

Kaas by Jeetendra Katre

Green Shield Bug by Abhishek Jamalabad

Equipment Discussions:

Tips on Wildlife Filmmaking

I 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:

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Sabyasachi Patra

Sabyasachi Patra
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