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Thread: This jungle drives away the big cats, and it is concrete

  1. #1
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    Default This jungle drives away the big cats, and it is concrete

    Found this news article interesting. Look forward to share your views.

    DNA Monday, November 16, 2009 0:31 IST

    New Delhi: Tigers have disappeared from 126 districts across India over the last 100 years and can be found in only 180 of the country's 593 districts. The main culprit for this approximately 40% shrinkage of habitat is the growth of towns into cities and cities into mega cities.

    Wildlife experts also blame organised poaching and ill-equipped forest guards, besides a host of other problems, that severely hamper tiger conservation in the country.

    The growth of cities over the last few decades has seen tigers completely disappear from its environs such as Bangalore, Pune, Surat, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer, Agra, Jhansi, Allahabad, Gwalior, Bhopal, Ujjain, Cuttack, and Darjeeling. Though the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) does not identify these places as cities but as districts, experts say the growth of towns into mega cities is the main reason for the decline in the tigers' natural habitat.

    A study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) says only 180 districts retain conditions favourable for tigers to survive.

    "The natural habitat of tigers has declined by 126 districts," laments Yadvendradas Jhala, a WII faculty member who was a part of the study.

    Environmentalists also blame industry and highways for the decline, pointing out that their construction means a large number of trees are cut down, destroying or weakening forest cover. Thus, 40% of India's total forest of over 67 million hectares is marked as degraded forests.

    As per government records, India is home to 1,411 tigers in 37 reserves under Project Tiger.But in the last three years, over 100 tigers have died due to poaching and drug overdose by ill-trained forest guards.

    The MoEF has more than 15,000 forest guards to man over 37,000 square kilometres of reserved forests where the tigers live, but the monitoring process leaves much to be desired.

    Ministry officials point out that a male tiger needs at least 15-20 sq km of exclusive territory to live in and share with a tigress.

    Senior officers say that due to a lack of space, there have been reports of tigers fighting with each other as they seek to mark out their territory, often with fatal consequences.

    Link - http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report...ncrete_1312146
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

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    Interesting story. There are a few inaccuracies, but before I point out, let me share an interesting news that appeared in The Hindu in 2004.
    Sabyasachi

    Shrinking forests drive big cats to `concrete jungles'
    By Dasu Kesava Rao

    Saturday, Dec 11, 2004, The Hindu



    HYDERABAD, DEC. 10. The latest incident of a leopard straying into the City underscores the rapidly shrinking wildlife habitat, forcing the animals to foray into human habitation. In a State where land-grabbing is not uncommon, even animals have become victims of this phenomenon.
    The big cat is reported to have made five forays into the twin cities in the recent past. Hyderabad and its environs are not the only favoured destination. Forest officials recount a number of incidents of starving wild animals going on urban trek. Panthers are known to have strayed into Visakhapatnam and other places in the north coastal districts in search of food.
    A rare `padayatra'

    Probably the most interesting story relates to a tiger in Polavaram forests which had lost its way and undertook a week-long `padayatra' of West Godavari district!. It moved as far away from its sylvan sanctuary as the district headquarters town of Eluru and touched a few major towns before winding its way back into the forests. Few noticed the animal but many its pug marks and other trails while the lord of the jungle moved from one place to another, hiding in the paddy fields in daytime and preying upon goats, fowl and calves at night. This was in the late-seventies or early eighties.
    `A meek surrender'


    One of the most ferocious inmates of the Hyderabad zoo, well-known as Atmakur tiger, was trapped by a woman into whose cattle-shed it stole in. This again was in early-80s in Atmakur town of Kurnool district.
    Years after it was shifted to the zoo here, the animal lost none of its fire and was for most part, confined to a cage not open for public viewing.
    Decades ago when the zoo was located in the public garden, a weak, ageing lion was said to have created panic among the uniformed force in the office of the IG of Police (as it was then called) next door.
    As the forest officials rushed there, the king of the forest surrendered meekly -- a regular phenomenon these days at the DGP office where Left-wing extremists `surrender' to the top cops.
    Until a decade ago, inmates of the ashram school in Mannanur in Mahbubnagar district, would get up at day-break, but think twice and even thrice before stepping out of the room. It was not uncommon for tigers - Mannanur being a gateway to the Rajiv Gandhi wildlife sanctuary - to relax in the forecourt or verandah, scaring the daylight out of the young boys and girls.

    The link to the original article can be found here:
    http://www.hinduonnet.com/2004/12/11...1106570500.htm

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    It is true that the rapid spread of concretisation is a major culprit in fragmenting the habitat and resulting in unviable populations in some areas resulting in quickening the pace the demise of the tiger. For example, if the forest near a major urban area shrinks, then the carrying capacity of that area becomes less. If there is only one tiger left, then it is as good as dead, as it can not reproduce and will finally die a natural death (if there are no poachers around). Even if a tiger comes from some other area to mate, the offspring have nowhere to go.

    In case of Bhubaneswar, there used to be tigers in the Chandaka forests. The Nandankanan Zoo was located there to create natural surroundings. Infact, in the late seventies a male tiger - attracted by the mating calls of a tigress - had once entered the zoo from the surrounding forests and had jumped into the pit containing the tigress. It is a different story that the tiger lost his freedom for the rest of his life. However, it tells us about the health of the forests nearby. Today, one can only see a ugly mass of concrete around the area.

    The news item also talks about tiger deaths due to drug overdose by ill-trained forest guards. Tranquilisation is never done by forest guards. It is the domain of researchers, and Vets. Unfortunately, in India, we hardly have trained vets. And there have been several deaths of megafauna like tiger due to improper tranqulisation in the hands of our researchers.

    Some of those details can be found in these links:
    http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2434

    wildanimal treatment and role of research and vets in India
    http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23

    http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2111

    It is ofcourse a fact that our forest guards are ill trained and ill equipped to stop poaching as well as for research. Ofcourse, a few of them are very good in their natural history knowledge.

    It is also incorrectly portrayed that tiger deaths like the one in Kanha where an adolescent was killed by an adult, were due to lack of space. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The main reason is the low prey density, which forces tigers to expand their range and hence the occasional conflict.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

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