View Full Version : Karera sanctuary set to close as 'golden bird' visits no more

Bibhav Behera
25-04-2010, 10:59 AM
Some bad news on Earth day...

New Delhi: With the disappearance of the magnificent Great Indian Bustard, it doesn't feel like good news on Earth Day Thursday as the Karera sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh will no longer be a wildlife lovers hotspot.

Following Centre's approval recently of a state government's proposal for denotification the region, comprising nearly 32 villages in and around the area, would be set free for villagers to carry out sale and purchase of land as well as other commercial activities.

The National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) chaired by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in a recent meeting approved the state government's proposal to denotify the sanctuary, after its officials said that the bustards were not sighted since 1995 and that most of the land inside the sanctuary sprawling over 202 sq km was private land and people were facing lot of problems.

"Notified in 1981, the sanctuary in Shivpuri does not have an inch of forest land. As much as 146.66 sq km is private land and the rest is revenue. However, since they live inside the sanctuary, the villagers can't sell their lands and are prohibited from activities like digging and transporting material," Chief Wildlife Warden, R S Negi said.

However, the approval has come with a rider with the Board asking the state government to declare Dihaliya lake and a portion of adjacent revenue land to be declared as sanctuary and probe into the reasons for the disappearance of the birds, as recommended by Mahendra Vyas, Member of Rationalisation Committee.

Indian bustard,locally known as the 'son chidiya' or golden bird is the most endangered member of the bustard family in the world and the total population in wild may not exceed 700.

Poaching and habitat deterioration are the two main causes for the drastic decline of the bird which is now limited to Desert National Park (Rajasthan) and the Lala-Parjau sanctuary in western Kutch (Gujarat).

Wildlife expert and Board member, M K Ranjisinh noted that there was no earlier precedence of total denotification of a protected area and therefore, before a particular area is denotified, the authorities should first notify equivalent area where there is a sizable population of Great Indian Bustards.

A survey has also been sought to ascertain present status and distribution of status of the endangered species, especially to determine if there were any birds inhabiting in any areas outside Protected Areas and if so, these would be established as a Protected Area including expansion of existing Protected Areas or declaration of Conservation Reserves.

One of the mandate of the survey team is to find if there are no bustards existing outside Protected Areas or none left in Madhya Pradesh, an area equal to the area to be denotified in Karera Wildlife Sanctuary will be added to the existing Protected Area network of the State.

Taken from http://www.zeenews.com/news621160.html#

Sabyasachi Patra
23-06-2010, 04:50 PM
Sharing this article from BBC News

Concern over plans to downgrade Indian national park
By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Karera bird sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh

The authorities in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are under pressure to declassify a national park because much of its rare bird life is believed to have been lost forever.

Locals eager to have free use of the land complain the park's special status prevents them from doing so.

But critics say any move to downgrade Karera bird sanctuary - created in 1981, principally to help save the Great Indian bustard - would be an admission that conservation efforts there have failed.

If ratified by the central government and the Supreme Court, Karera will become the country's first national park to lose its official recognition.

Conjugal success
The residents of 33 villages in the 200 sq-km (124 sq-mile) sanctuary argue the Great Indian bustard has not been seen in more than 10 years because of "habitat destruction".

Villagers say no rare wildlife exists any more
The Great Indian bustard is one of the world's heaviest flying birds.

It lost out to the peacock when India's national bird was decided - reportedly because of its tricky spelling and the peacock's more attractive looks.

Apart from Madhya Pradesh, it is found in the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

At Dihaliya, a village on the banks of Dihaliya lake, villagers explain how the sanctuary has affected their lives and livelihoods.

They are not allowed to buy, sell or make any significant changes to the land and cannot mine it, or carry out any kind of construction work - even building irrigation canals is not easy.

Jawahar Singh, the village head, says there are more than 35,000 people living in villages adjoining the sanctuary.

"Our sons cannot find brides as they cannot raise money by selling land if required," he said.

Manoj Siwari, from Phatehpur village, is 25 years old and says he has been turned down five times by prospective brides.

He blames the national park for his failure to marry.

"Please declassify this sanctuary so that we can organise our lives," he said.

"There are no rare birds here any more. We are being held to ransom unnecessarily. During marriage discussions, people criticise us for our inability to raise money. It is not fair."

Great Indian bustards were once found in great numbers in Karera - an area characterised by semi-arid grasslands.

In an attempt to save the 15 or so birds left, the area was classified as a sanctuary in 1981.

The population grew for a few years to up to 40 birds, but it has since dropped steadily and not a single Great Indian bustard has been sighted since 1994.

In view of this, the state government has sent a proposal to the central government to declassify the sanctuary.

GK Sharma, a forest officer, says villagers' hostility has affected conservation efforts.

"When we built watch towers, they tore them down. They do not kill the animals but do not report any illegal activity either. It was difficult to build relations with the residents as they felt forest officers were friends of the birds and therefore were their enemies."

However, it was not always like this. Asad Rahmani, director of Bombay Natural History Society in Mumbai, worked for more than six years in the sanctuary in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"The bird does not mind farming land and there was no poaching in this area," he said.

"But constant habitat destruction is the main reason for its disappearance. We had given a detailed plan to protect it but nothing was done. In fact the figures of 35 to 40 bustards were inflated."

'Fix responsibility'
The bird prefers walking to flying and requires undisturbed nesting areas. If the egg or offspring do not survive, bustards are known to desert that particular area - if the offspring survives, they will return to the same place.

Mechanised farming and over-grazing by cattle and sheep - combined with increasing human encroachment - are the main reasons cited for the bird's habitat being disturbed.

"The bird has disappeared over a period of time" Alok Kumar, chief conservator of forests

Its disappearance from the sanctuary is a cause of concern, wildlife experts say, and is an indicator of the health of the country's grassland ecosystems.

One of the recommendations in Dr Rahmani's plan is to "fix responsibility" for the disappearance of the bird. Activists say those to blame should be held to account.

"The bird has disappeared over a period of time. Something could have been done earlier. It is impossible to hold any one person responsible," says Alok Kumar, chief conservator of forests.

Dr Rahmani suggests protecting pockets of about 200 hectares in different parts of the park to rebuild a habitat after it loses its special status - in which only traditional farming methods not resisted by the birds would be allowed.

The conflict between conservation and promoting the needs of farmers has intensified because of government apathy over the years.

The vast expanse of the Karera bird sanctuary looks parched and barren in mid-summer. Herds of cattle and sheep graze every few kilometres. This used to be the bustards' breeding season in Karera but not any more.

The golden bird gave up on this home many years ago. It is a scenario which would be a tragedy if repeated in India's other national parks - home to some of the world's most endangered animals, including the tiger.

The source article can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/south_asia/10221681.stm

Sabyasachi Patra
23-06-2010, 05:21 PM
The question that bothers me is, if Karera can be denotified, then others can be. It is setting a precedent.

Sariska was wiped clean of tigers. So was Panna. The response was not to downgrade their status just because the apex predator was not there. The response was to restock these forests with tigers. Ofcourse, the other actions like relocation of villages etc are not done. Why the same can't be done to repopulate Karera with Indian bustards?

Or is it because the Great Indian Bustard doesn't captivate people as the tiger does?


Roopak Gangadharan
24-06-2010, 01:53 PM
A very pertinent question and perhaps the biggest question mark over the future of many lesser creatures. Infact geting an area notified as protected is itself a challenge when the species involved is not as glorified as a Tiger.