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Thread: More tusker bodies found in Simlipal; experts sound alarm

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    Default More tusker bodies found in Simlipal; experts sound alarm

    THE PIONEER
    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    More tusker bodies found in Simlipal; experts sound alarm
    Moushumi Basu | New Delhi

    Simlipal tiger reserve in Odisha continues to be in news for wrong
    reasons with more reports of tusker deaths. Two more carcasses were
    found recently in the reserve, indicating that organised poaching
    gangs are thriving. Experts fear that 13-14 more tuskers may have been
    poached and efforts are on to locate their bodies.

    The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) swung into action
    last month, following the shocking disclosure of nearly 12 jumbo
    deaths and reports of burnt carcasses. After major uproar by wildlife
    activists, it constituted a two-member independent committee
    comprising Biswajit Mohanty, Secretary, Wildlife Society of Orissa and
    former member National Board for Wildlife and Belinda Wright,
    Director, Wildlife Protection Society of India.

    Ironically, even as the report of the committee was submitted last
    month, its findings continue to be a “closely-guarded secret” so far.
    It has not been put in public domain, despite tall claims of
    transparency by the NTCA. The sources pointed out that the serious
    nature of the findings of the committee has made the authority wary.
    Going a step ahead, it has constituted another seven-member committee.

    This, once again, is a “hush-hush step” for “monitoring the status/
    progress of implementation of the recommendations made by the earlier
    committee, besides close liaisoning with State authorities for
    redressing the problems”. The term of the committee is for six months.

    While Mohanty and Wright figure in the new committee again, the team
    also includes Sanjukta Basa, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Mayurbhanj, PN
    Padhi, Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) Odisha, BK Patanaik, former CWW, BK
    Sharma Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, besides the
    Regional Deputy Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.

    One of the terms of reference of the committee states that it would
    “advise the CWW” besides the Field Director of the reserve on
    protection and managerial issues. Experts pointed out that when the
    CWW is a member of the same committee, how can he advise himself?” The
    committee is to update the NTCA on the status of the reserve on
    monthly basis and submit a report after six months.

    Pointing to the alarming status of the reserve, the experts reminded
    that the committee had reported a total of 10 deaths. Seven were
    reported earlier and three more confirmed later. Further, two more
    bodies have been unearthed in July. “We have information of 13 more,
    for which search operations were continuing. However, they have
    presently been halted due to the monsoon,” they said.

    Meanwhile, the Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO) had earlier written to
    the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh demanding a CBI investigation
    into the incidents. It is necessary to particularly bring out the role
    of field forest officers in the incidents. After all, it cannot be
    possible for such continued poaching to go on without their
    connivance, the letter pointed out. “There have been deliberate
    efforts to destroy evidence by burning or burying the bodies,” said
    the members. However, no action has been taken so far.

    The reserve is spread over an area of 2,750 sqkm and once boasted of
    having 101 tigers and over 500 wild elephants. According to experts,
    while the tiger population is feared to have fallen to a mere 20, the
    official pachyderm count, till May this year, is 298.

    Link - http://www.dailypioneer.com/270886/M...und-alarm.html
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

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    This is indeed extremely disheartening news. The problem with a lot of wildlife sanctuaries in Orissa and probably elsewhere as well is that they tend to hide the actual facts and present an 'aaalll izzz wellll' image so that everyone is happy. But when the skeletons (quite literally here) start falling out of the closet, it indeed is time for justice. Hope some positive step comes forth from this high level committee.
    Regards,
    Bibhav Behera
    www.bibhavbehera.com

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    This is very disturbing. Reports reveal that Similipal is one of the strongholds of elephants in Eastern India.

    Whenever there is even a rumour that there are organized poaching gangs operating, it is time for the department to be on their heels, seek police support.

    Our charishmatic megafauna species are in great distress.

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    Some more updates on this...

    BHUBANESWAR: The mass deaths of elephants reported inside Simlipal forest last month was the handiwork of poachers who used poison and guns to silence the animals, according to a Central government inquiry report. It added that forest staff tried to destroy the evidences in a bid to conceal the incidents and recommended stringent action against the erring staff.

    The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had sent noted environmentalists, Belinda Wright and Biswajit Mohanty, to Simlipal in June in the wake of media reports about mass slaughter of elephants. The team made extensive tour of the 5,000 sq km biosphere area for about a week, discussed the situation with officials, villagers, local environment activists before submitting its report.

    The report described Simlipal as one of world's "largest contiguous tiger and elephant habitats" and expressed grave concern over the unabated killing of animals. Unless drastic measures are taken forthwith the situation could go out of hand, it said. "As we were signing off on this report, we received news about deaths of eight more elephants bringing the total to possibly 18 dead elephants in Simlipal, all possibly killed by poisoning and gunshot," they observed in their report.

    The report said, "Situation in Simlipal is chronic warranting serious shake-up."

    "Simlipal Tiger Reserve is too precious to be left unattended or uncontrolled. It is our considered opinion that unless our recommendations are swiftly implemented by the state and NTCA, that we may soon see a disastrous situation," they observed.

    The report indicated population of tiger, elephant and other animals are drastically falling in the forest and cited field records, statements of forest staff including the field director, to prove the point. "Tiger sightings have never been frequent in the thick vegetation of Simlipal. The Field Director, who joined in July 2009, is yet to see a tiger, as is the case with the Deputy Director. Of the field staff we questioned, one had sighted a tiger in December 2009, while others said they usually find a set of pugmarks after a gap of between 10 days to two months," the report stated.

    The investigators were "skeptical" about the 2010 April census of 551 elephants in Simlipal up from 434 in 2007. They were also not convinced about the January census by the state forest department claiming adult tiger population at 47 as against 21 recorded during the 2008 census by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). As regards other animals, the report said sambar and dhole are hardly sighted. "Sadly, the last dhole was sighted in 1996, near Barehipani," the report pointed out. The rare recording of cattle kills indicates the deteriorating tiger population in Simlipal, it said.

    The report referred to the repeated Maoist attacks on Simlipal and said quoted local villagers as admitting their "presence" in the area. "Although there are two Special Operational Groups (SOGs) stationed inside the Park, they hardly serve as morale boosters since they do not carry out joint patrols with the forest staff. Poachers and timber smugglers have greatly benefited from the Maoist threat perception since it enables them to operate freely inside the Park in the absence of armed forest staff to confront them," the report said.

    "The extremists had targeted the forest department infrastructure and razed a number of buildings to the ground. Even today, a year after the attacks, the forest staff of Simlipal feels unable to carry out their daily tasks in fear of further attacks from the extremists. As a result of this, the wildlife and the habitat are suffering gravely," the report added.

    It made 25 recommendations, including urgent need to stop regular incursion of local people in groups for poaching and seizure of country-made guns largely available in the area, to save Simlipal.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/c...ow/6230042.cms
    Regards,
    Bibhav Behera
    www.bibhavbehera.com

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    It is very disheartening to note the despair state of one of the premier tiger reserves in the country.

    Few reserves harbour both tiger and elephants together and Similipal is one of them.

    The situation is grim and on war footing basis, poachers should be apprehended. No harm in bringing in 150 ~ 200 (not more numbers definitely) armed men with sophisticated weapons to combat poaching menace. A clear warning note should be issued in advance that all suspect would be shot at inside the reserve.

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