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MoEF panel turns down clearance for Rasuli iron mine in Chhattisgarh

The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has not recommended forest clearance for the Rasuli iron ore mine of Navbharat Fuse Co Ltd in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, as the mine falls in very dense forest area in the Bailadila mountain range.FAC is an apex panel of the MoEF&CC that appraises projects that seek diversion of forests for non-forestry purposes. The mining project required diversion of 220 hectares of pristine forest land rich in biodiversity.During its meeting on December 20, the FAC noted that the state government, which had allotted the mine in 2009, had conveyed to the company its rejection of the proposal and even the ministry’s regional office did not recommend clearance upon site inspection. On these grounds, the FAC decided against recommending the project for clearance under Forest Conservation Act, minutes of the FAC meeting showed.The Rasuli iron ore mine was one among 10 leases that the state government had allotted to private companies in 2009. The mine had a reserve of 9.4 million tonnes of iron ore that was to be provided for captive use in the company’s sponge iron plant in Jagdalpur. The company had retained the mine under section 10A (2) (c) of the amended Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act.The FAC noted that the forest land proposed for diversion is part of a stand-alone hill range running north to south. “The overall landscape of the area indicates area proposed for lease constitutes the part of extension of Bailadila mountain range. The extension of the said mountain range runs over a distance of more than 100 km in Dantewada, Bijapur, Kanker, Balod, and Rajnandgaon districts of Chhattisgarh…the area has high landscape integrity value,” the FAC minutes stated.The average density of the forest is approximately 0.7 to 0.8 SDI, and it is estimated that more than 90,000 trees stand across 220 hectares. “Removal of such a large number of trees over an area of 220 ha will certainly have an adverse impact on the local environment. The area proposed under the lease forms the immediate catchment of local nallah…opening of the area and removal of the trees will also disturb the existing water regime of the area,” the minutes added.Why not allowed The Rasuli iron ore mine of Navbharat Fuse Co Ltd in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, as the mine falls in very dense forest area in the Bailadila mountain range. The average density of the forest is approximately 0.7 to 0.8 SDI, and it is estimated that more than 90,000 trees stand across 220 hectares.

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Rajasthan innovations shine, DLB Pawan Arora receives award

It was a proud moment for the state as the director of local bodies of Rajasthan, Pawan Arora received National Energy Conservation Award 2017 of union energy ministry on Thursday. The award has been bestowed on Rajasthan DLB for exemplary work in ‘Street Light’ category. The state with 8.67 lakh LED street lights is ahead of all other states.The national level award was presented to Rajasthan DLB, Pawan Arora at a function of Union Energy Ministry held at Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi on occasion of Energy Conservation Day on Thursday. The Directorate of local bodies was also awarded the Rajasthan Energy Conservation Award 2017 by the Rajasthan energy department at a state level program held at Jaipur on the day.It has been for the consecutive year that the DLB has bagged the state level award for energy conservation through replacing traditional road lights with LED lights. The initiative has helped the Directorate to save on Rs 146.56 crore in expenditure on street light electricity consumption and saved 1832 lakh units of electricity for the state at large. Until December 12, 2017, there were 4130007 units of LED lights and Rajasthan has maximum share of these.REIL AWARDEDA ‘mini ratna’ public sector enterprise based at Jaipur, Rajasthan Electronics and Instrument Limited (REIL) has been awarded the National Energy Conservation Awards 2017 in Office and BPO Building category. The award was presented by President Ramnath Kovind to REIL managing director, A K Jain at the award ceremony held at Delhi. Replacing its older machinery and equipment with energy-efficient equipment, REIL has been able to reduce its consumption by 1 lakh units in 2016-17. It has also been awarded by the Rajasthan Energy Conservation Award 2017.FOR JMRC TOOThe Jaipur Metro Railway Corporation (JMRC) has been awarded in two categories of the Rajasthan Energy Conservation Award 2017. The metro corporation has been awarded in government department category and the JMRC Chandpole station has been awarded for energy conservation in the commercial building category. The metro through various innovations such as keeping down the standby transformers, running escalators on idle mode and efficient management of chilling plant has been able to save 13 lakh units of electricity in 2016-17.

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DLB Pawan Arora to receive award from President Ram Nath Kovind

Urban Local Bodies Department will receive National Energy Conservation Award for the second consecutive year. On the best work in energy conservation works (Street Lights) from the Ministry of Energy, the local body department will be conferred National Energy Conservation Award-2017. On December 14, 2017, President Ram Nath Kovind will give the award on Energy Day. Director of the Local Bodies Department and Joint Secretary Pawan Arora will receive this award.It is worth mentioning that last year the local bodies department was awarded this award. Last year, the Principal Secretary Manjit Singh received this award. Director Local Body Pawan Arora said that so far, 8.67 lakh LED street lights have been installed in 162 urban local bodies across the state. The highest is compared to other states.Throughout the country on 12 December 2017, a total of 41,30,007 pieces of LED street lights have been installed. Thus, Rajasthan has the highest number of LED street lights in the country. The most energy saving state is by putting LED street lights.TO BE NOTEDIt is worth mentioning that last year the local bodies department was awarded this award. Last year, the Principal Secretary Manjit Singh received this award.

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Bird lovers solve mystery of ‘spy’ falcon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bird lovers of Sriganganagar claim to have managed to solve the mystery of the ‘spy’ Peregrine Falcon that was found close to the international border in Sriganganagar. The Peregrine Falcon, the fastest moving hunter, belongs to a sheikh from the UAE. The sheikh had taken the falcon on a hunting trip to Balochistan, from where he lost the bird after it took flight and reached India.As there have been earlier spottings of falcons from across the border, fitted with cameras and transmitters, in Sriganganagar, the presence of the transmitter galvanised the police into action and higher authorities were informed.Local ornithologist Subhash Sharma of the Indian Birds Conservation Network (IBCN) posted pictures of the bird on the net. The Qatar National History Group (QNHG) managed to trace the number of the owner, and informed Sharma the falcon belongs to Sheikh Mohammad Al Mansoori of Qatar. QNHG informed Sharma that they had spoken to his son who told them that his father was on a hunting trip to Pakistan with the falcon. “I also got a call from the owner who told me that he had lost the bird after it took flight in Balochistan. He asked me if it was well, but after I told him that his falcon was in the custody of the police, he did not contact again,” Sharma told DNA.The police, however, has no official communication from the owner of the falcon. Vedprakash Lakhotia, SHO Kesripur, told DNA that an operation will be performed to remove the chip. “We have written to higher authorities for permission. The chip will be scanned and agencies will try to ascertain what is it used for,” he said.”We do not expect any claimant to come forward. But if they do, first it needs to be investigated that the chip contains no sensitive or secret information. In that case specialised agencies will take over,” Lakhotia told DNA.The falcon is presently in good health and at the Bikaner veterinary college. But whether it will be sent back to its owner is a question that has no answer.IN GOOD HEALTHThe falcon is presently in good health and in the custody of the Bikaner Veterinary College.
An operation will now be performed to extract the chip from the falcon’s body.
The chip will be scanned to ascertain whether it was meant for spying.

Soon, take a walk through mangroves

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what would be a first of its kind initiative in Maharashtra, the State Mangrove Cell is planning to build a 2.8-kilometre boardwalk inside mangroves, which will be laid in a manner to resemble a flamingo.Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF), Mangrove Cell, N Vasudevan said that the boardwalk will be part of the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMCB) at Airoli, located within the 1,690 hectares of Thane Flamingo Sanctuary declared by Maharashtra government on August 6, 2015.Vasudevan informed that the boardwalk will lead into four different paths, while one will provide a view of migratory birds that flock the Thane creek during winter, others will showcase the mangroves, aquatic life as well as insects and reptiles dwelling inside the mangroves.The boardwalks will be made using environment-friendly materials and the path will have to be created ensuring that there is no damage to the mangroves. “A major challenge will be providing supports for the boardwalk, and hence it will take some time. We are hoping that it will be ready by early 2019,” said another senior official from the Mangrove Cell.In phase I, the Mangrove cell with the help of Indo-German project collaboration on Conservation and Sustainable Management of Marine Protected Areas has set up Maharashtra’s first state-of-the-art Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMCB) at Airoli, which has over 600 marine species displayed along with various interactive exhibits.

Save the tigers: Post electrocution deaths, State forest department to promote solar fencing in Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the electrocution deaths of six tigers in just over a year, the state forest department will promote solar fencing of farmsteads to prevent animals from entering them. Officials note that many farmers who illegally electrify their farm fences or put live wires near their fields claim that they do so to prevent crop depredations by wild animals. However, this leads to these animals being electrocuted on coming in contact with the live wires. Since November 4, 2016, a total of six tigers have been electrocuted in the state. This includes Srinivas, the son of Maharashtra’s iconic tiger Jai, who was electrocuted to death in the Nagbhid range in April.In 2017, Maharashtra has lost 15 tigers due to various causes of which five deaths are due to electrocution.On Tuesday, senior officials from the state forest department attended a meeting in New Delhi with their counterparts from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). “We will undertake joint patrolling with field staff from the Maharashta State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MahaVitaran) to prevent illegal hooking of power lines,” said an official who attended the meeting.Another official added that based on a vulnerability map drawn up by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for the Vidarbha landscape, areas which needed top priority to mitigate man-animal conflict will see solar fencing for farms being rolled out. This has been suggested by a three-member committee of senior forest officials. It will be on the lines of the areas around the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) where around 2,000 small and marginal farmers have seen their fields being protected using this technique. “It has turned out to be quite successful and cheap,” the official said, adding that fencing a two to three hectare area cost around Rs15,000, of which 75% was contributed by the forest department with the beneficiary pitching in with the rest. “Awareness will also be created in the farmers and offenders will be booked under the relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Electricity Act, 2003,” he noted. However, forest officials admit that there are instances where live wires are placed around farms for poaching animals, including herbivores for bush meat. Maharashtra has six tiger reserves, namely Tadoba Andhari, Pench, Bor, Sahyadri, Melghat and Navegaon Nagzira. According to the tiger census, results for which were released in 2014, India has 2,226 tigers, up from 1,706 in 2010. The state has around 190 such big cats, more than the figure of 169 in 2010.BOX:*In 2016, India lost 98 tigers–the highest since 2010. Of these Maharashtra accounted for 15 mortalities–the highest so far. The number of tiger deaths as on November 15, 2017, stands at 78. *In 2015, Maharashtra’s tiger deaths stood at 12, up from seven in 2014 and 10 in 2013.

Is any special consideration given to Thomas Chandy? HC asks Kerala govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala High Court on Thursday came out against the state government for its inaction against state Transport Minister Thomas Chandy, whose company had allegedly violated rules to construct a road through paddy fields to a lake resort owned by him in Alappuzha district.Considering a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking registration of an FIR against Chandy, the bench of Justices P N Raveendran and Devan Ramachandran asked whether there is any special consideration given to the minister.The Court observed that if it was an ordinary citizen, he would have been evicted using bulldozers.All are equal before law, the court said.When the matter came up, the government counsel informed the court that it was probing the cases against the minister.The authenticity of documents produced by the minister on the issue need to be examined before filing a report, it said.The government also pleaded that no special consideration was given to Chandy.The PIL filed sought a court directive to register an FIR for alleged violation of provisions of Kerala Land Conservancy Act and Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act by Water World Tourism company which owns the Lake Palace Resort in Alappuzha.Chandy has been facing allegations for allegedly filling paddy fields for the construction of a parking space and encroaching Marthandam backwaters.Chandy, a nominee of the NCP in the CPI(M)-led LDF government, has been under attack from the Congress-led UDF opposition and the BJP ever since the allegations surfaced some time back.Stepping up its demand for Chandy’s resignation, opposition alleged there was “mystery” behind Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan protecting the transport minister even after the revenue minister had accepted the district collector’s report that “found serious violation of rules”.A businessman-turned-politician, Chandy joined the ministry in April following the resignation of A K Saseendran over allegations of sexual misconduct.​

Mahajan pays obeisance at holy places in Jodhpur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan visited the mausoleum of the famous folk god Baba Ramdev on Wednesday. She worshipped and wished for peace and prosperity of the country. She also made a visit to Baba’s devotee Dalibai temple situated in the temple complex.The Lok Sabha speaker circumambulated around Baba’s mausoleum and made a visit to the Akhand Jyot. She also heard Baba Ramdev’s famous hymn “Khamma-Khamma ……… Runichera dhaniya” with devotion. She observed the holy Ramsarovar Lake filled with water.After visiting Baba’s mausoleum, she viewed the newly constructed panorama of baba which has been constructed by the State Government’s Rajasthan Heritage Conservation and Promoting Authority.She observed Baba’s history and his miraculous deeds in colored pics, exhibition and praised this panorama.She wrote in the Visitor Book that she is feeling blessed to see Baba Ramdev’s mausoleum and his biography exhibition. She also wrote that such great saints in entire India were born from time to time to protect India and make the country prosperous. Pokhran MLA, Shaitan Singh Rathore and social worker Jugal Kishore Vyas gave information to her about the history and miracles of Lokdev Baba Ramdev. The Lok Sabha Speaker was given guard of honor by the police on the helipad.While responding to reporters, Sumitra Mahajan appreciated the work of the government . She said that Ramdev Baba is a symbol of universal faith. The biggest sign of its popularity is that people from all over the country and of all religions come to worship here.Mahajan returned to Jodhpur after visiting Ramdevra and later she left for Delhi in the special aircraft.MAUSOLEUM VISITEDThe Lok Sabha speaker circumambulated around Baba’s mausoleum and made a visit to the Akhand Jyot. She also listened to Baba Ramdev’s famous hymn “Khamma-Khamma ….Runichera dhaniya” with devotion. She visited the holy Ramsarovar Lake filled with water and also viewed the newly constructed panorama of baba.

Mumbai: Activists a Chipko Movement to save Aarey’s forestland from Metro car shed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Environmental activists in Mumbai have launched Chipko movement to protect over 3,000 trees from being hacked in Aarey Colony to make way for the construction of Mumbai Metro car shed.The activists of Aarey Conservation Group on Saturday along with scores of people and school children, held a peaceful protest by embracing the trees and appealed to the government to reconsider its decision to build a car shed in the only large green lung of the city.”There are seven other plots in the city where car shed can come up without destroying the ecological balance of the city. But Mumbai Metro Corporation officials are hell-bent to cut 3,500 trees and now they have started excavation work and soon they are going to hack the trees.”So we decided to show our affection with the innocent trees by launching the Chipko (embracing) movement in the Aarey Colony,” said Stalin Dayanand, the convener of NGO Vanashakti.Dayanand added, “It is not Metro’s construction, but it is Metro’s (Mumbai’s) destruction which MMRC is doing without getting permission from the agencies.”National Green Tribunal has clearly said that Metro Act cannot be above the Environment Protection Act, but MMRC is brazenly violating the rules.”He alleged that MMRC has falsely made different affidavits in different agencies to cut the trees.Dayanand said, “MMRC stated in High Court that it will cut only 250 trees whereas in NGT, it said that only 500 trees will be hacked. But, shockingly here on ground zero in Mumbai, it has come up with the tender to hack 3,500 trees.” Meanwhile, noted lyricist Piyush Mishra, who too is batting for the green cover in the Aarey Colony, has compiled a video song to sensitise people and the government to protect the trees.Mishra said that it is the high time to do something to save the green tract of the city.”We can breathe in Mumbai, because of green tract like Aarey in our city, and therefore, it is our responsibility to protect them (trees) from being hacked in the name of development.”In western countries, people treat trees like God or saviour and see what we are doing. Why don’t they build carshed at other convenient places?” Mishra told PTI over phone.The state government has demarcated a portion of Aarey land for setting up the carshed for the Metro-3 corridor which has been the rootcause of controversy between green activists and the nodal agency MMRC.Reacting to the developments, MMRC, said there was no restraining order from NGT on undertaking any construction work at Aarey and it has not initiated any tree cutting activity in Aarey as of now.A MMRC spokesperson said, “Being a responsible government organisation, we always ensure that permission of MCGM’s Tree Authority, which is the competent authority to grant permission for tree cutting, is taken.” “We also reiterate that hacking will not be initiated till we receive approval from the Tree Authority,” he said.

Freeze-dried dung gives clue to Asian elephant stress

Indian scientists say they can monitor the physiological health of elephants by analysing their dung.

Odisha to release tigers in forests to increase population

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Odisha government has been planning to launch an ambitious project by releasing adult Royal Bengal Tigers in low tiger density forests to enhance the number of big cats. “We are planning to release a pair of tigers at the Satkosia tiger reserve in Angul district on a pilot basis. If the scheme is successful, the government may undertake similar efforts in other forests,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Sandeep Tripathy said today. The tigers to be released would probably be brought from outside the state. Tripathy said the tiger relocation programmes had been successful at Sariska National Park of Maharashtra and Panna National Park of Madhya Pradesh. According to the 2016 tiger census, Odisha has only 40 Royal Bengal Tigers — 13 males, 24 females and three calves. There are only two big cats – one male and a female, at Satkosia forest division, forest officials said. Satkosia has been chosen on a pilot basis as food would not be major problem for the big there due to presence of large number of animals of different species there. “We have identified particular sites with proper habitat and prey for the tigers. If the programme yields fruitful results, it will be extended to other parts of the state,” he said. Stating that Odisha’s plan has been intimated to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Tripathy said a team of forest officials would soon visit Sariska and the Panna National Parks to gather information on the programme.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

MMRC begins work in Aarey colony ‘without permissions’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Alleging that the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) has commenced work for construction of Metro car depot inside Aarey Colony starting Friday, environmentalists have written to the suburban collector alleging that MMRC has no permission to carry out work and the matter being sub judice in National Green Tribunal (NGT) there is a status quo order for Aarey Colony.However, the MMRC claimed that it is conducting activity in conformity with an appropriate legal framework.Biju Augustine, of the Aarey Conservation Group, said, “The MMRC is illegally commencing the work and we have brought it to the notice of the suburban collector and the Aarey police station that has asked MMRC to stop the work. How can the MMRC commence work if orders have been passed by the NGT to maintain status quo.MMRC spokesperson, in a statement issued on Monday, said, “MMRC conducts its activities in conformity with an appropriate legal framework. The state government has handed over this land for car depot. Metro line 3 project is being implemented under the Metro Act.”

Ecologists want BMC to act fast to secure weak tree bases in Aarey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Worried over losing the famous Aarey Milk Colony tree avenue to rapid soil erosion, environmentalists cautioned the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) against unscientific tree trimming and demanded that the process to reinforce tree bases be initiated at the earliest.Environmentalist and Project Director for NGO Vanashakti, Stalin D, said, “Due to the water gushing and water channels flowing close to the trees during monsoon, over a period of time several trees have been losing soil around the base and titling. I was surprised to see people trimming a tree’s branches falling on the side of the road. This will affect the balance of the tree and can cause tree fall.”He said, “The BMC or Dairy department should ensure that they do not trim the trees without the presence of a tree expert. The BMC, which collects tree cess from every citizen to care for the trees, needs to wake up and take efforts to save all the trees along the Aarey stretch.”Stalin said a proper plan needed to be drawn to reinforce the soil by taking steps like shifting the water channels and even creating rock barriers to balance the tree and save the soil from washing off.Biju Augustine, member of Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) said, “Several trees lined up on the left side while on the way towards Powai from Goregaon are titling. We are planning to organise a meeting with BMC to take up the matter soon,” he said.A senior BMC official from the Tree department said that the citizens need to approach the ward office and register their concerns.

91 animals, including 7 rhinos died in floods in Kaziranga:

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 90 animals, including seven rhinoceros, have died due to the flooding in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, the government told Parliament today. The Assam floods have affected the Kaziranga National Park. Seven rhinos, 82 hog deer, and two sambar deer have died in the flooding, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a written reply. The floods have so far claimed over 70 lives in the northeastern state. Over 25 lakh people bore the brunt of the flooding in 29 districts. The administration set up 1,098 relief camps and distribution centres in the state. Vardhan said that based on Annual Plan of Operations submitted by tiger reserves, the government provides funds to them under the centrally-sponsored scheme ‘Project Tiger’ through the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The funds are used for various activities, including for measures to address flood situation such as creation of highlands and preventive structures against erosion, boats, rescue of animals, desiltation and creation of road network etc, he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

‘Extremely unique:’ Lion nurses leopard cub in Tanzania

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Newly released photographs from a Tanzanian wildlife area show an incredibly rare sight: a leopard cub suckling on a lion believed to have given birth to a litter last month. The five-year-old lion lies unperturbed as the small leopard, estimated to be a few weeks old, nurses in the photographs taken Tuesday by a guest at a lodge in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a United Nations World Heritage site. “To observe a thing like this is very unusual,” said Ingela Jansson, head of the KopeLion conservation group, which seeks to resolve conflict between lions and local residents who hunt the predators in order to protect their livestock. The lactating lion, fitted with a GPS collar so that researchers can track her, may have lost her own cubs and therefore was open to feeding the leopard cub, Jansson said. The leopard, meanwhile, appeared to have lost contact with its mother, she said. “Cross-species nursing for wild cats, and other wildlife for that matter, is extremely unique,” according to a statement from Panthera, a wild cat conservation group based in New York. There have been cases of adoptions and suckling among wild cats and other animals of the same species, as well as cases of birds feeding chicks of another species whose eggs were inadvertently laid in their nests, according to conservationists. “It’s really mysterious,” Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer of Panthera, said of the new images. He said it was unclear whether the leopard’s mother was still around and could retrieve the cub from “lioness day care,” which would be the best possible outcome. However, Hunter cautioned that “the natural odds are stacked against this little fellow,” which may have since been killed by other lions that recognized it was not one of their own. Even in normal circumstances, only 40 per cent of lion cubs in the area, which is part of the Serengeti ecosystem, survive their first year, Hunter said. Known as Nosikitok, the lion that fed the leopard was seen with other lions but without cubs of any kind on the day after the photographs were taken by Joop van der Linde, a guest at Ndutu Safari Lodge. Jansson of KopeLion jokingly described the extraordinary lion-leopard cub nursing as a case of “confusion at the supermarket” in which the lion “picked up the wrong kid.”(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Vardhan invited to attend intl snow leopard & ecosystem forum

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India may “strongly support” initiatives aimed at ensuring the economic development of snow leopard range nations, a group of 12 countries, in an upcoming global meet, Union minister Harsh Vardhan said today. Vardhan said he has been invited to attend the International Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Forum (Summit 2017), which will be held in the Kyrgyz Republic’s capital Bishkek in August. Vardhan made the comments after meeting Samargiul Adamkulova, the ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic, here today. “Thanks to Mr. Abdykaly Rustamov, Director of State Agency For Environment Protection and Forestry under the Government of Kyrgyz Republic, for inviting me to attend the International Snow Leopard and Its Ecosystem Conservation forum in August at Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. “During the forum India may strongly support the initiatives esp for achieving needs of economic development of snow leopard range nations,” he said in a series of tweets. India has three zones under Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Programme (GSLEP): Hemis-Spiti, Nanda Dev-Gangotri and Kanchendzonga-Tawang. Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are part of the snow leopard range nations.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Uttar Pradesh: Villagers in Pilibhit using elders as tiger prey to get govt compensation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With rising incidents of tiger attacks on senior citizens and over half a dozen deaths reported since February, authorities from the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) suspect villagers of sending elders into the forest as tiger prey in order to get compensation, reported Times of India.The officials suspect that villages bordering PTR send older members into forest as tiger prey and then their bodies are shifted to fields to claim compensation from the government. This is because they are not entitled to get money if their kin die in the reserve.The conclusion was drawn by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau’s (WCCB) Kalim Athar while examining tiger attacks in the area. Athar who has submitted a report to top WCCB officials said that the bureau authorities have decided to refer the matter to the National Tiger Conservation Authority for further action.However, villagers say that elders were willing participants as the belive that this is the only way their families can escape poverty.

Modi to visit Israel on July 4, first by an Indian PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The External Affairs Ministry on Wednesday announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Israel on a three-day trip between July 4 and 6. It said the visit will provide an impetus for deeper bilateral engagement in areas of mutual interest. Modi’s Israel visit has been speculated for over three years since he assumed office.The visit will include high-level bilateral meetings and other various components to reflect the fabric of the Indo-Israeli relations. “This significant visit, the first of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel, takes place on the backdrop of marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, and will further upgrade the ever growing partnership between the two countries,” said a statement issued by the Israeli embassy here.Coinciding the visit, the Union Cabinet, which met here under the PM, approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Israel on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India. According to this, the two countries shall work to enhance cooperation at the national, regional and international level to design, implement and monitor a professionally-designed National Water Conservation campaign in India. They will promote re-use, recharge and recycling of water besides developing digital tools such as websites, mobile applications on the subject of water conservation.Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that Tel Aviv was preparing for the Modi’s visit in a grand scale. He will be given the same luxury suite at the King David Hotel that the US President Donald Trump stayed in during his visit. Modi and his delegation will be welcomed with pomp and ceremony: a red carpet will be laid out, and the PM will be greeted on arrival by Michael Federmann, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the group that owns and operates the hotel. Federmann’s own interest in Modi’s arrival in Israel is notable, as he is also the chairman of Elbit Systems, a defence electronics company that has considerable deals with India.According to the paper, the hotel is making significant adjustments to the vegetarian menu for the luncheon meeting between Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On a compromise, fish will be served, but no meat or poultry. In order to best serve the Indian visitors, the hotel has also secured the services of Israeli-Indian restaurateur and television personality Reena Pushkarna and her team of chefs. Pushkarna and her team have been allocated their own kitchen for Modi’s visit.The Director of Operations at the King David, Sheldon Ritz, has overseen the preparations for Modi’s trip, and noted that he could not recall anything as intensive as Modi’s visit, in terms of arrangements prior to arrival. Ritz has previously been responsible for the arrangements for visiting royals, presidents, prime ministers, and other high-ranking officials from around the world.Over the past three months, no less than eight delegations have come from India to Israel to check on details about Modi’s visit, and the actual advance delegation arrived on Wednesday to ensure that everything will go like clockwork.Some minor alterations were made to Modi’s suite to suit his convenience. The Indian PM will be taking his own personal who prepares tea of his choice. When President Pranab Mukherjee stayed in the hotel, the housekeeping department found that it had to add to its supplies an item that had been virtually unknown in Israel since the departure of the British Mandate Authorities. But apparently British rule in India had left its mark, and the hotel had acquired a tea cosy to cover the Presidential teapot. It will now be taken out again to cover Modi’s teapot.

NGT show-cause notice to Centre, Haryana on Basai wetland

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal today issued notices to the Centre and the Haryana government asking why the work on a waste treatment plant, being built in the catchment area of Basai wetland in Gurugram, should not be stayed due to its adverse impact on the water body. A vacation bench headed by Justice S P Wangdi sought response from the environment ministry, the Manohar Lal Khattar government, Gurugram municipal corporation, and IL and FS Environmental Infrastructure and Services Ltd. after a plea by an NGO alleged that the Basai wetland was in a critical condition due to the project. “At this stage, we are not inclined to grant any interim order as prayed for without hearing the respondents. “In the meantime, the respondents shall show cause as to why the prayer for interim order sought by the applicant shall be not granted,” the bench said. The green panel also directed the Haryana government to consider the representation of the NGO and take an appropriate decision. “Since, it is not clear as to whether the construction and debris plant is within the wetland area or not, the Haryana government shall furnish the revenue records pertaining to the area by way of an affidavit before July 5,” the bench said. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO Delhi Bird Foundation seeking stay on the project contending that the Basai wetland, though not declared as a wetland under the Wetland (Conservation & Management) Rules, 2010, was a valuable water body. “The construction and debris plant which is under process of establishment shall have an adverse impact upon the water body due to various activities connected with the plant,” the plea filed through advocates Saurabh Sharma and Meera Gopal said. The plant, according to the Gurugram municipal corporation, will be spread over 3.5 acres of land and will process 500 tonnes of waste a day.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

New frog species discovered in India’s Western Ghats

The new species were found after five years of extensive explorations in the Western Ghats.

BirdLife International recognises three new IBAs in Goa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>World’s largest nature conservation organisation BirdLife International has recognised three more Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) in Goa, according to Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN) chief Parag Rangnekar. These three new areas from Goa have been listed in a book called ‘Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas : Priority Sites for Conservation’, authored by noted ornithologist Asad Rahmani along with two others, Rangnekar told(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Whale carcass washed ashore, may be the same one buried in May

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as local residents residing close to Madh Island in Malad on Monday were shocked to find a decomposed partial carcass of a whale near the beach, sources claimed that chances of the same whale which was buried in May, could have been resurfaced.It was on May 28 that two parts of a 40 feet Bryde’s whale was found, one in Juhu while the other at Madh. According to Pravin Bhatkar, a local of Bhati village, spotted the carcass around 9 am on Monday. “I saw a huge carcass and on closer inspection realised its a whale. I then informed Ankit Vyas, who is an animal welfare officer,” he said adding that around 10 days back they had also seen carcasses of porpoises washed ashore.A senior official from Mangrove Cell said that a team collected tissue samples and will be sending it to Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) for identification. “As of now we cannot confirm its the same whale or not. We have photographs of the carcass found here earlier and we will certainly match it,” said the official.”The earlier carcass found at Madh was buried very close to the site where the new one was found on Monday. Due to pre-monsoon conditions, the sea is extremely rough and the waves are very strong. There are chances that the sand must have been displaced due to heavy tidal movement,” said a source.Since April, eight carcasses have been found washed ashore on the city’s beaches, including that of olive ridley turtles, dolphins and porpoises. Experts claim that one could not identify the reason of the death without proper analysis and post mortem, which is next to impossible due to the decomposition of the carcass.”The death could also be due to natural reasons. The data of such marine species should be maintained and the mangrove cell must put up boards with helpline numbers so that fishermen can alert them about such instances,” said Pradip Patade, Convenor of Ocean Conservation Education Awareness Network (OCEAN) who has been documenting the city’s marine life.

Missing from Umred sanctuary, tiger spotted near Pench reserve by tourist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tiger sightings are always an exciting affair, but for a Nagpur-based doctor on his Friday safari inside the Mansingh Deo Sanctuary near Pench Tiger Reserve, it turned out to be extremely special. He spotted a male tiger- Bali, who must have travelled from the Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary (UKWS), even crossing two national highways on the way.Incidentally, the tiger that Dr Mohammed Shariq saw and photographed is the cub of tiger Jai and Chandi and for almost a year now, its whereabouts were not known even by the Forest department. The tiger’s identity was confirmed by a group of wildlife photographers, however, the forest department said that they do not have any information pertaining to it as tiger dispersal was a natural and very common phenomenon. Shariq who loves exploring off beat jungles, not frequented by tiger-chasing tourists, said that he chose the quiet route inside the Mansingh Deo and entered the forest from the Surewani gate along with two friends who were visiting the jungle for the first time.“We entered at around 5.30 am and by around 6.40 am we saw a male tiger and it was almost walking close to the same route that we were moving on for over 45 minutes and we took several photographs as well as videos,” informed Shariq. He added that his curiosity only multiplied on seeing that the tiger was not marking its territory and despite walking for almost three kilometres, it seemed from its behaviour that it was in a completely new territory.According to Shariq, this behaviour of the tiger caught his attention and as soon as he returned from the safari, he contacted wildlife photographer Vinit Arora who has a huge database of tiger images as well as Mohammed Junaid.“We were able to confirm the identity by matching the stripe patterns that it was indeed Bali from UKWS and it had travelled around 200kms to Mansingh Deo sanctuary. It’s even more exciting as there is no proper corridor between UKWS and Mansingh Deo and this tiger must have crossed two or three national highways on its route and even several human dominated habitats,” he said.According to Shariq even the forest officials from Nagpur as well as Pench Tiger Reserve contacted him for details of the tiger and by Friday evening they confirmed that it was indeed Bali. “I am extremely delighted that one of my regular forays into the jungle helped find a missing tiger and that too the cub of the iconic Jai,” shared Shariq happily.Sarosh Lodhi from Conservation Lenses and Wildlife (CLaW) an independent group of wildlife lovers and photographers said that it was indeed good news after months of only tragic news including the death of Jai’s cub Sriniwas in April. “This tiger cub is known as Santa as well as Bali and this incident proves why tourism in wildlife areas is important as it was a tourist who ended up sighting a tiger that has been missing for several months now. This also calls for protection of tiger corridors as this tiger must have travelled through a fragmented corridor to reach Mansingh Deo,” he said.Meanwhile, officials from the Forest department denied having any knowledge about this. “For us, a tiger is a tiger, irrespective of whose cub or relative it is and forget 100 odd kilometres, these big cats are known to travel over 500 kilometres and the movement of tigers from one forest area to another is extremely common. We have no specific information about this incident,” said a senior forest official adding that such things might excite wildlife photographers, but for the forest department every single tiger was important and not individuals.

Industrial activities pose threat to Sundarbans: IUCN report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sundarbans, a natural world heritage site spread across India and Bangladesh, is facing major threats from increased shipping and industrial activities, says a latest report by a leading global conservation agency. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the advisory body on natural World Heritage, has recommended action to tackle major threats in listed sites, including the Sundarbans, home to iconic royal Bengal tiger. The World Heritage Committee reports released yesterday include IUCN’s advice on necessary measures to tackle threats affecting the world’s iconic natural areas. A total of 55 natural World Heritage sites including the Sundarbans have been monitored by IUCN this year, in collaboration with UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. “Natural World Heritage sites facing threats include Do ana National Park in Spain, a crucial wetland for migratory bird species which is threatened by unsustainable use of water for agriculture; and the Sundarbans in Bangladesh home of the world’s largest population of tigers, together with India’s Sundarban National Park, which is exposed to a number of threats including a coal-fired power plant project, increased shipping, and reduced inflow of freshwater,” the report said. Despite having the highest international recognition, natural World Heritage sites continue to face serious threats, including from climate change, industrial activities and armed conflict, the report released yesterday claimed. At present, 18 natural sites are listed as ‘in danger’ out of 238 listed for their outstanding natural value, IUCN said. IUCN has found that the Sundarbans does not currently meet the requirements for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It said immediate implementation of the recommendations related to the freshwater flows, large scale developments in the vicinity of the property and integrated management is imperative to prevent the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) of the property from becoming irreversibly damaged. “It is therefore recommended that, in the absence of substantial progress with the implementation of the above, the Committee should consider inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 42nd session,” it said. According to WWF, the Sundarbans forest is about 10,000 sq km across India and Bangladesh, of which 40 per cent lies in India, and is home to many rare and globally threatened wildlife species such as the estuarine crocodile, royal Bengal tiger, Water monitor lizard, Gangetic dolphin, and olive ridley turtle. The forest in India is divided into the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and 24 Parganas (South) Forest Division, and together with the forest in Bangladesh is the only mangrove forest in the world where tigers are found.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Say Cheese! Camera traps to track leopards at IIT

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over the new few months, a wildlife researcher will conduct the first-ever camera-trapping survey of the Indian Institute of Technology at Powai to capture images of leopards on campus.Nikit Surve of the Wildlife Conservation Society-India is currently carrying out a similar exercise at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) for monitoring the density of leopards. This is the second phase of the initial study conducted between December 2014 and April 2015 to estimate the density of the leopard population as well as its wild and domestic prey. and to determine the big cats’ food habits. The study will track the diet of leopards in the campus to check if it is the stray dogs that are attracting the big cats.The cameras will be set up on both sides of crossings, and the flank rosettes – as the leopard skin pattern is known – from the leopards spotted at IIT will be matched with those from SGNP to see if the cats are travelling between the two locations. It will also help identify individual leopards. SNGP had last year conducted a leopard survey, which will also be used to match the rosette patterns on the big cats caught on camera on the IIT-Powai campus.The study aims to understand the dispersal of leopards whose images are captured at IIT.”We have set up camera traps at SGNP and also have a data bank of images of leopards from previous study. Once we have images of leopards from IIT we will be able to pin point if the leopards from SGNP or Aarey are travelling all the way to IIT or these are big cats staying in and around the campus permanently,” Surve told DNA.”I had requested for permissions to set up camera traps at IIT-B and they have sanctioned the request. We are scouting for sites where the leopards movements are frequent and will be setting up two-camera traps,” he said.Surve is also seeking help from IIT-B students to set up the traps and to monitor the images as this will create more awareness about leopards and their habits.The research team will also hold awareness workshops at IIT for students as well as faculty, staff, and campus residents so that they understand leopard behaviour and can take measures to avoid man-leopard conflict.Leopard movement has been quite frequent on the IIT campus and students claim the big cats sneak in to feast on the dogs on campus. In fact, in July 2014, the IIT was almost taken over by the forest department for four days after a leopard was spotted in one of the labs….& analysisDespite regular sighting of leopards inside the campus, there has never been any specific study done to understand their dispersal in and around the campus. It is important for wildlife biologists to find out what was attracting the big cats to the campus.

Sena, BJP face off over stamp duty hike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seeking the rollback the stamp duty hike on conveyance deeds and gift deeds on immovable properties, Ramdas Kadam, Shiv Sena minister, lashed out at Ram Shinde, cabinet colleague, for alleged corruption in the Jalyukta Shivaar Water Conservation Scheme.On Tuesday, the Maharashtra cabinet decided to hike the stamp duty on gift deeds to blood relatives and on the conveyance of immovable properties.Kadam alleged that this decision had been taken by the state cabinet despite Diwakar Raote, senior Shiv Sena minister, objecting to it, and threatened that the party would protest if the decision isn’t rolled back. He said that Uddhav Thackeray, President, Shiv Sena, had spelt out his opposition to this cabinet move.”Why is the state government trying to drive a wedge between blood relations?” questioned Kadam, who is the state Environment Minister, adding that the hike in stamp duty on conveyance would affect the poor and middle class who wish to move into better houses.”Shiv Sena feels this is a wrong decision… we will protest against it despite being in power,” warned Kadam.Kadam lashed out at Shinde, who belongs to the BJP, over alleged corruption in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ flagship Jalyukta Shivaar scheme in Ratnagiri and added that his son Yogesh had detected irregularities in works in Khed, Dapoli, and Mandangad talukas.He said that this could be an indication towards larger irregularities in these projects being undertaken throughout the state.Shinde could not be contacted for his comments.”He is lying. Statements made by him yesterday (about the scheme being free of malpractices) is false,” said Kadam, adding that he had told Fadnavis about these irregularities and had been assured of a high-level probe.Kadam said that payments had been released to contractors despite the work not being done at the site and the quality of work on water conservation and storage structures was poor….& ANALYSISThe gloves seem to be off between the Shiv Sena and BJP despite sharing power in the state and the Centre. The Sena seems to hit its senior ally where it hurts the most by alleging irregularities in the state government’s flagship scheme

Maharashtra: Srinivas tiger from Nagbhid ranges dies of electrocution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The April jinx for the Maharashtra forest department continues. Exactly a year after the mysterious disappearance of the famous tiger Jai of Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary (UKWS) his three-year-old male cub, Srinivas, has been found dead on Thursday after being electrocuted accidentally in an electric fence setup for herbivores by a farmer.As per the forest officials, Srinivas’s carcas was exhumed from a farm in Maushi village in Nagbhid range located in the Bramhapuri division. The tiger’s territory was around Paoni and Nagbhid ranges in Bhandara and Chandrapur district. “The radio collar that was strapped around its neck by Bilal Habib and his team of researchers from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) was found on April 19 after which a search operation was launched for the tiger. However after staff found tiger scat near a farm on Thursday and began enquiring with the locals and soon it led them to Mahadev Irpate, Shubham Uke and Uttam Irpate, who confessed that the tiger was killed due to the electric wire fence they had set up to protect their farm,” shared a forest official adding that they told the investigating team that they had no intention to kill the tiger and the fence was set for herbivores that damage the crop.According to Brahmapuri deputy conservator of forests Kulraj Singh, the accused even informed the forest department that after they found that a tiger had been killed they were scared and decided to bury it close to their farms and even removed the collar and threw it away, which finally led to the dead tiger. “The post-mortem was conducted and the carcas has been cremated as per the procedure,” said Singh.AT A GLANCENumber of Deaths of Tigers in 201739 Tigers to have died in India till 27 April 13 Tigers to have died in April 2 Tiger to have died in Maharashtra due to electrocution ​The death of Srinivas has also yet again ignited the collaring debate. “It’s become a trend to blame radio collars for everything. What can a radio collar do to ensure a tiger is not electrocuted, it was an unfortunate incident and in fact, it was the collar led to the site,” said a wildlife expert.“One tiger is killed every fourth day and at this pace, we will lose out our national animal sooner than we realise. Apart from various instances where collars have failed to work, this one goes to show that even after getting signals, the department could not do anything. Ideally, if the forest officials knew that Srinivas is in and around human habitation they should have begun patrolling to ensure there is no man-animal conflict,” said wildlife photographer Sarosh Lodhi, coordinator of Conservation Lenses and Wildlife (CLAW).The tiger was named after the former Field Director of Pench Tiger Reserve M Srinivasa Reddy and has a cub brother Bittu that has also been collared and was last spotted in the Paoni area. Srinivas is the second tiger from Maharashtra to have died of electrocution as in January this year an adult tigress was found dead due to electrocution in Pench Tiger Reserve.

Ken Betwa project gets nod after Uma Bharti writes to Dave

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Union Environment Ministry has cleared the decks for the Ken-Betwa river linking project. The project plans to transfer water from Ken river basin in Panna tiger reserve, Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river basin, Uttar Pradesh, for irrigating drought prone Bundelkhand.In its meeting on Tuesday the top body, that clears diversion of forests for infrastructure projects, reached a compromise with the union water resources ministry regarding certain riders it had recommended during its meeting last month. The climb down of the FAC, especially relenting on its recommendation to reduce the height of the project dam by 5m, came in the wake of a letter that water resources minister Uma Bharti wrote to the her colleague Anil Dave, on April 12.Soon after the letter, her ministry requested a special meeting with the FAC to ease certain riders the panel had recommended, which eventually happened on Tuesday.In her letter to Anil Dave, reviewed by DNA, Uma Bharti thanked him and the FAC for recommendation of the river linking project. But, she also expressed disappointment that the expert appraisal bodies of the environment ministry repeatedly flagged issues such as reducing the reservoir level by 5 metres from the total 288 metres, for reducing submergence of forest area in Panna Tiger Reserve.”I feel sad that this issue has been raised again and again in the meetings of the Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC), Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) and Forest Advisory Committee (FAC).” She added, “Our experts have explained in great detail to the experts of NBWL as well as the EAC, to their full satisfaction, that in the case the height of the dam is reduced by 5 metres, the total irrigated area would be reduced by 1.16 lakh hectares in Bundelkhand region…which suffers from drought every year.”Further, Bharti impressed upon Dave that her ministry was committed to environmental concerns and exhorted him to clear the project. “We have made mandatory provisions of e-flows as recommended by EAC to ensure adequate water in the river for protection and sustenance of flora and fauna of the area. The project has acquired national importance at the highest level…therefore, I shall appreciate if the above concerns are duly factored in and a clear go ahead is give to us.”Bharti’s letter to Dave was prompted by FAC’s meeting on March 30. In that meeting, the FAC had expressed major scepticism about what it termed as “losses to the unique riverine forest habitat” of Panna. But, it had said that with no other alternative, it will consider recommending forest clearance with certain riders which included, among others, reduction in the project’s dam height, change in alignment of project canal and reducing felling of trees.Besides her letter, officials from Bharti’s ministry also gave a detailed written reply on the FAC’s recommendations, accepting some of them. This included considering all possibilities to realign the project canal to minimise use of forest land and agreeing to not fell more than three lakh trees, that are at a height of 4 meter below full reservoir level.To suggest more ways to compensate loss of forest, FAC has constituted an expert committee comprising of members from environment ministry, National Tiger Conservation Authority, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai and water resources ministry.

JICA to promote agroforestry in Nagaland with Rs 400 cr loan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Farmers dependent on traditional cultivation method in Nagaland are set to get new income options in fuel wood, fruits and non-timber production through a project for which Japanese funding arm JICA has extended Rs 400 crore loan. JICA has signed an agreement with the Indian government to provide an Official Development Assistance loan of 6,224 million yen (about Rs 400 crore) for Nagaland Forest Management Project. The project components — Forestry Interventions and Biodiversity Conservation, Livelihood Improvement and Community Development and Institutional Strengthening — targets 185 villages in 22 forest ranges in 11 divisions. The project will cover 80,000 hectares for forestry intervention, a statement by the Japan International Cooperation Agency said today. It will help reduce dependence on traditional jhum cultivation of leaving land fallow for some years as forest cover in Nagaland has reduced by 78 sq km between 2013 and 2015. JICA said the project will not only help improve tree density and soil fertility but promote agroforestry as additional income sources. “It shall contribute in ecological rehabilitation of jhum cultivation areas and poverty alleviation in Nagaland,” said Takema Sakamoto, Chief Representative, JICA India Office. State government’s Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change will execute the project. The loan agreement was signed between Sakamoto and S Selvakumar, Joint Secretary, Finance Ministry.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

‘Disappointed’ with ban on filming in tiger reserves: BBC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The British Broadcasting Corporation today said it was “disappointed” with the Centre’s reaction on a “balanced” report covering the successes and challenges of India’s rhino conservation policies. The Centre had yesterday said that a BBC documentary on Kaziranga National Park “misrepresented” the immunity provided to forest staff as a “shoot-to-kill” policy. It also has been banned from filming in tiger reserves for five years. “The authorities’ reaction to a report on an important global issue like the appropriate way to combat poaching is extremely disappointing. “The programme was a balanced and impartial report which covered both the successes achieved through India’s conservation policies and the challenges, which includes the impact on communities living next to the parks,” a BBC spokesperson said in a statement. The Corporation, the spokesperson said, had approached the relevant government authorities to ensure their position was fully reflected but “they declined to take part”. Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave had yesterday said in Lok Sabha that there were several “inconsistencies” between the synopsis provided by the BBC producer and the final documentary released for airing. “The government is aware of a documentary released by the BBC in which they misrepresented the immunity provided to forest personnel under section 197 of CrPC as ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy. “The BBC has been disallowed from filming in tiger reserves for a period of five years. The permission granted before making the film included the condition for preview before its release. However, the documentary was not submitted to the authorities for a preview,” Dave had said. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had recently asked the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to bar the BBC from filming in protected areas for five years, claiming a documentary produced by it “distorted” the government’s anti-poaching strategy. It had also sought revocation of visas of the journalist, who produced the documentary and other crew members for an identical period. The South Asia Bureau of the BBC had made the documentary – “Killing For Conservation”. The NTCA had earlier suggested “blacklisting” the BBC producer for “grossly erroneous” reporting, while issuing a show cause notice asking the broadcaster as to why permissions granted to it should not be revoked after the documentary termed the government’s anti-poaching policy at Kaziranga as one of “shoot-to-kill”. NTCA, which functions under the Environment Ministry, in a memorandum earlier had said that producer Justin Rowlatt and others committed a “breach of trust” by submitting “false and misleading synopsis” to obtain filming permissions and producing a documentary which shows India’s conservation efforts in “poor light”. Dave had recently said the Assam government had taken a series of steps to curb poaching at the Kaziranga National Park, including empowering the forest staff to use firearms without prior sanction while providing them immunity from prosecution.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Thai jungle seen as breeding ground for Indochinese tigers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Conservationists say they have evidence that the critically endangered Indochinese tiger is breeding in a Thai jungle, giving hope for the survival of an animal whose total population may be less than 300. Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation along with two private organisations announced today they have photographic evidence of new tiger cubs in eastern Thailand, supporting a scientific survey that confirmed the existence of the world’s second breeding population of the tigers. The other breeding ground is in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in western Thailand. The Thai agency, along with Freeland, an organisation fighting human and animal trafficking, and Panthera, a wild cat conservation group, said only 221 Indochinese tigers are estimated to remain in two Asian countries, Thailand and Myanmar. It is feared that tigers, which once ranged across much of Asia, are now all but extinct in southern China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and much of Myanmar, the groups said in a joint statement. Indochinese tigers are smaller than the better-known Bengal and Siberian tigers. “Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade stands as the gravest threat to the survival of the tiger, whose numbers in the wild have dwindled from 100,000 a century ago to 3,900 today,” it said. The statement noted the tigers’ “remarkable resilience given wildlife poaching and illegal rosewood logging” in the eastern jungle. “The Thai forestry department proved that with protection you can not only bring tigers back, but now the western forest complex, specifically Huai Kha Khaeng, is a global model of tiger conservation,” Alan Rabinowitz, chief executive officer of Panthera said in a video call from New York. “It is one of the best protected and best tiger areas left in the world. Thailand has shown that you can protect tigers and bring them back. They can do this now in the eastern forest complex as they’ve done in the western forest complex.”(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

NGT notice to Centre over encroachment on drain in Gurugram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An NGO today moved the National Green Tribunal alleging encroachment on a natural storm water drain in Gurugram, which had suffered massive traffic jams due to blockage in the channel during rains last year. The green panel has sought a reply from the Centre and Haryana government on the issue. A bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Haryana government, Gurugram municipal corporation, state irrigation and forest department, Paras Buildtech Ltd, Ansal API and others while seeking their replies before April 28. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO Haryali Welfare Society and and city residents Sharmila Kaushik and Vaishali Rana Chandra seeking immediate removal of illegal encroachments and cancellation of licences and change in land use of the storm water drains. The plea, filed through advocates Rahul Choudhary and Meera Gopal, has sought appointment of an expert committee for monitoring restoration of the drain with “adequate setbacks and recommend safeguards” to be incorporated for ensuring preservation of the Badshahpur ‘nallah’. “It is submitted that one builder by the name Paras Buildtech India Pvt Ltd is illegally constructing on the Badshahpur storm water drain and has consequently filled up the drain and laid concrete pipes which has led to the obstruction of the natural flow of the drain,” it alleged. “It is submitted that the Paras Buildtech has proposed construction of apartments by the name of ‘Paras Quartier’ and are violating all rules and regulations as two of the buildings of the complex are in fact on the storm water drain itself. It is further submitted that another builder by the name Ansal API has also encroached upon the said natural storm water drain,” the plea claimed. The petitioners have also sought that the Badshahpur drain and its tributaries be declared as Natural Conservation Zone (NCZ) as per the NCR planning board letter in March 2015, which stated that the water bodies should be protected. Last year, blockage in Badshahpur drain had led to waterlogging at Hero Honda Chowk following rains, causing massive traffic jams in the area.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Can govt be forced to retain Hall of Nations? HC asks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court today said that if the central government does not want to retain the ‘Hall of Nations’ at Pragati Maidan here, how can it be forced to do so. “If the government does not want it, can it be forced to retain it?” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said to the lawyer for the building’s architect Raj Rewal who has also moved court to protect the structure from demolition. The court refused to pass any interim orders staying demolition of the building as sought by the architect nor did it clarify that there was no stay on demolition as sought by ITPO. The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) said it has decided to demolish Pragati Maidan, including the Hall of Nations, to set up a world-class exhibition centre there and wanted an order clarifying there was no stay. The court said it will not pass any such order, but observed that it has not issued any interim direction in the matter. On the architect’s plea to stay the demolition of the Hall of Nations, the court said it can only ask the government to look into whether the structure ought to be protected, but such an exercise has already been carried out by the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC), a statutory body, which has decided not to protect the building. The court’s observation came during brief hearing of the plea by the architect and one by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) which has sought protection of 62 buildings, including Hall of Nations, in the national capital. The court could not take up both the matters post-lunch as the judge was not available and therefore, INTACH’s plea was listed for hearing on April 17 and the architect’s matter would be taken up on March 30. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Centre supporting states for conservation of lakes: Govt in LS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has been supporting all state governments for conservation of identified lakes and wetlands in the country on cost sharing basis, Lok Sabha was informed today. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Environment Ministry has been supplementing efforts of the state governments under the scheme of National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) for conservation of identified lakes and wetlands in the country on cost sharing basis between the central and state governments. Speaking on behalf of Environment Minister Anil Dave, Javadekar said no proposal has been received for conservation of Vellayani lake in Kerala under the scheme NPCA. The Kerala state bio-diversity board has informed that they submitted a concept note for conservation of Vellayani lake in Thiruvananthapuram as a biodiversity heritage site under the Biodiversity Act 2002. “As per the Act, the concerned state governments have been empowered to notify in consultation with local bodies, areas of biodiversity importance in their states as biodiversity heritage site,” he said during Question Hour.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

No green nod for Etalin hydro project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Environment Ministry’s expert committee on forest clearances, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), has held back clearance for the 3,097MW Etalin hydroelectric project (HEP), Dibang valley, Arunachal Pradesh, after it found major inadequacies on its environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, ministry documents show. The FAC appraised the project during its last meeting in February and its minutes show that the committee flagged the lack of studies on the project’s impact on the region’s biodiversity. The Rs 25,296-crore HEP, one of the biggest among the over 140 planned in Arunachal Pradesh, will require diversion of 1,165 hectares of “luxuriant” forest. As per the minutes, the FAC has now asked for “multi-seasonal replicate studies on biodiversity assessment by an internationally credible institute as the EIA is completely inadequate in this regard.” The FAC also noted that while the Chief Conservator of Forest of the region mentioned only a few mammals and plant species in his report, the region is a biodiversity hotspot. “This area has more biodiversity than any part of the country.” The committee said that since independent studies, that used camera traps, recorded 12 tigers and eight clouded leopards in Dibang valley, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, too, should give their comments on the issue. Besides flagging concerns on biodiversity, the FAC also asked the state government to explore if the huge area required for the construction and dumping of muck can be reduced. The Dibang valley and the region around the project is a mega biodiversity hotspot of the world, the FAC noted. It is home to six globally threatened mammal species, three endangered, and three vulnerable. About 680 bird species have been recorded in this region, which is about 56 per cent of the total bird species in India, the FAC noted. “Among them, 19 are globally threatened and 10 are near-threatened. This entire region is a key biodiversity hotspot, indicating its importance at a global scale,” the FAC said. The HEP involves the construction of two dams, one 101.5-m high on Dir river and the other a 80-m high dam on Tangon river. Both rivers are tributaries of the Dibang river. Across the 1,156 hectares, the project will require felling of 2.8 lakh trees. Arunachal Pradesh has a hydropower potential of more than 50,000 MW and more than 140 projects have been planned, including nine alone on Dibang river.

Bad year for tigers? 21 big cats dead in 65 days of 2017

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The number of Indian tigers had hit an all time low of 1,411 in 2006, however the estimated tiger population in India had drastically improved to 2,226 in 2014.Now, according to a Mid-Day report, a data compiled by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) indicates that 2017 could again be a bad year for India’s tigers. In the first 65 days of 2017, 21 tiger deaths have been reported.The numbers uploaded on Tigernet revealed that 19 tigers had died in the corresponding period last year. The overall figures for 2016 are alarming as well – 99 tiger deaths, the highest figure in the last six years. This was a drastic rise as the year-wise tiger death toll from 2012 to 2015 was 72, 63, 66, 70 respectively.The report said that of the 99 deaths in 2016, 21 tigers had died of natural causes, 12 died in territorial fights, five were poisoned, one tiger died in an accident, one drowned, two were killed in man-animal conflicts and two were electrocuted and poached. While of the 21 tiger deaths this year, three were caused during territorial fights, one by electrocution and one died of natural causes while the cause of 16 deaths is yet to be ascertained.MoS Environment Anil Madhav Dave in a written reply in Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session last year had informed that tiger deaths have registered an increase of 25% in 2016. He said instances of poaching had doubled too. Jharkhand’s tiger population had also gone down from 10 to 3. The total number of tigers across 44 tiger reserves in India was 1,586 in 2016. (With PTI inputs)

States unite for crackdown on poaching

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar has teamed up with its neighbours — Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Nepal — to check on cross-border poaching and smuggling of wild animals, in the Valmiki-Chitwan-Parsa Tiger Conservation Unit spread in the forests of the Himalayan Terai.At a recent meeting in Patna, forest officials and wildlife experts discussed possibilities for better coordination on wildlife conservation in the area. Officials also discussed sharing intelligence on poachers, smugglers, and wildlife migration.The boundaries of Bihar’s Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) in West Champaran merge with UP’s Sohagibarwa wildlife sanctuary, and Chitwan National Park and Parsa National Park in Nepal.”One of our major concerns is poaching in the bordering areas of Valmiki Tiger Reserve in West Chamaparan district. It is commonplace among smugglers to run away to Nepal after poaching on our side of the border,” principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Bihar) Devendra Shukla said.”At the meet, we stressed for more co-ordination with Nepal. They assured us to show readiness in arresting smugglers and also share intelligence inputs,” Shukla said. The three participating states and Nepal have each nominated a nodal officer to share inputs on a daily basis for effective preservation of wildlife in the area.Besides sounding alert about poachers, officials will also share information on trans border movement of wild animals. Last year, about 22 people died due to wild elephant stampede, though elephants are not found in Bihar.”Similarly, a lot of rhinos come to VTR from Nepal. If we are made aware of their movement, we can up the security to prevent their poaching,” he said.

Camera traps set to double in tiger-bearing states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To ensure a more accurate census exercise for 2017-2018 of the tigers, and other vulnerable and endangered animals in forests across India, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has decided to double the number of camera traps.The recent missive from NTCA calls for bringing down the grid size of setting up camera traps from 4 sq km to 2 sq km. India has 50 tiger reserves spread over 18 tiger range states — Maharashtra has six. The new norm will be binding on all tiger-bearing states to ensure data compatibility. The changed norms will also make sure tracking stations are doubled and robust data is generated”The grid size for camera trap set ups will now be 2 sq km. This will help us count smaller prey and non-prey animals like porcupines, mouse deer and the chousingha (four-horned antelope), and also endangered and vulnerable species. It will give us an estimate of the number of these animals, and whether their numbers are rising or falling,” an NTCA official told DNA.More camera traps will also help develop a richer repository of camera trap images of tigers, and will promote research.”The increase in captures by camera traps will increase detection probability and accuracy while decreasing the margin of error,” he said.The additional camera traps will be installed in forests from November 2017 to November 2018.The official said that the decision as taken in a recent meeting in New Delhi between NTCA officials, experts from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), wildlife wardens and field directors of tiger-range states.Camera trapping will commence from November 2017 in tiger areas, and data collection is expected to be completed and submitted by November 2018. WII will analyse data from November 2018 to January 2019. The report will be published in March 2019.Kedar Gore, Director, The Corbett Foundation welcomed the move. “Tigers cannot be studied in isolation. Its presence has to be correlated with prey species. Smaller grids and more cameras would lead to a higher probability of tigers being photo-captured,” he said.NTCA conducts a tiger census every four years. The third round was conducted in 2014, and saw 9,735 cameras deployed on 3,78,118 sq km forests in 18 tiger states, and estimated India’s tiger population at 2,226, with a minimum range of 1,945 tigers and maximum of 2,491. The increase in camera traps will help narrow down this range and make figures more exact.

Kaziranga documentary row: NTCA bans BBC from filming in tiger reserves in India for 5 years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an unprecedented step, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has banned the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and its South Asia Correspondent Justin Rowlatt from filming across any tiger reserves of India for “breach of trust” during the shoot of its controversial documentary on Kaziranga tiger reserve. It has also advised the external affairs ministry to revoke visa issued to Rowlatt and his crew, besides “taking appropriate action to prevent their further entry into India, for a period of not less than five years.”DNA has reviewed a copy of NTCA’s order banning BBC.In addition to the ban on filming in any tiger reserve, NTCA has recommended environment ministry’s wildlife wing to disallow BBC from filming in any protected areas of the country for five years.
ALSO READ On the ethics of ‘shoot at sight’ at KazirangaThe action against BBC and its correspondent comes two weeks after NTCA served them show-cause notice for allegedly portraying Kaziranga’s policy of shooting poachers in an extremely negative light. BBC’s story and documentary titled, “Kaziranga: The park that shoot people to protect rhinos” had kicked up a major stir in the conservation field and among the authorities for its questioning of the park’s policy to kill suspected poachers.NTCA’s notice on February 13 had said that BBC provided a false synopsis on its filming plan with “surreptitious malintent of obtaining permission from relevant authorities.” “The producer has used spasmodic events as an umbrella to judge a gamut of conservation efforts that go into safeguarding our wildlife heritage, with scant understanding of the laws in place. The immunity provided to forest officials under section 197, of the Criminal Procedure Code has been construed as a “Shoot to Kill” Policy.
ALSO READ Grossly errorenous reporting: Enivornment Ministry on BBC’s docu on Kaziranga reserve’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policyIn his defence, Rowlatt told NTCA on February 14 that there was no attempt to deceive anyone during the filming and that BBC did not refer to the park’s conservation strategy as “shoot to kill” at any time. He added, that as a professional journalist, he was obliged to find out more about the circumstances of the deaths (killing of suspected poachers). “It quickly became clear that Kaziranga’s policing of poaching is a matter of intense debate both in the communities around the park and within the conservation movement more generally,” said Rowlatt. Rowlatt also said that despite desiring to reflect the official position on use of armed forces in Kaziranga, union environment minister Anil Dave, Assam environment minister Pramila Rani Brahma, NTCA head BS Bonal and Assam’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Bikash Brahma did not respond to interview requests. DNA has reviewed a copy of Rowlatt’s response.DNA could not reach Rowlatt for an immediate response as he is travelling.

Wanted: A Hangul couple for breeding programme

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir’s wildlife authorities are facing a unique conundrum as the ideal pair of Hangul needed for the state’s ambitious captive breeding programme — to help boost the animal’s declining numbers — remains elusive.Hangul is the state animal of J&K. Found in the forest ridges of Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, the Kashmir stag is known for its majestic antlers and red coat.Alarmed by the continuous decline in numbers — 186 at last count in 2015 — the state government set up a Conservation Breeding Centre at Shikargah Tral in South Kashmir in a bid to increase the native elk population and prevent its extinction.However, officials have so far been unsuccessful in luring in a pair, preferably fawns, for the ambitious captive breeding programme.”We are trying to get an expert to capture the hangul. An artificial water point and feeding centre to lure in the animals have been set up,” said Ifshan Dewan, Wildlife Warden, Shopian.Wildlife authorities are trying to create a parent stock for the species recovery programme. “We are looking for fawns for creating a parent stock. A full-grown hangul may struggle and die. Fawns can cope better,” said Rashid Naqash, Regional Wildlife Warden, Kashmir.About the programme”Efforts to provide a minimum parent stock to initiate the breeding programme are underway. Tral Shikargah, which is a relic habitat of the stag, has been identified for ex-situ conservation,” said Chaudhary Lal Singh, J&K minister for forests and environment, in a written reply in the Legislative Assembly.The state government has earmarked five hectares for the captive breeding centre. The facility is almost complete, and features night shelter sheds, pen-houses, a paddock and veterinary facilities, authorities said.Meanwhile, “Strict check on tourist flow and vehicular movement is being enforced. Periodic census of hangul population is also conducted by experts from reputed institutes of the country. Grazing is restricted to upper areas of Dachigam. Efforts to relocate the sheep breeding farm from Dachigam is also under process,” said the forest minister.

Get instructions from TN govt on PIL against Isha: HC to GP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madras High Court today directed the government pleader to get instructions from Tamil Nadu government in connection with a PIL alleging violations by Isha Foundation in construction around the proposed 112-foot statue of Lord Siva at its yoga centre in Coimbatore district. The first bench comprising acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice R Mahadevan directed Government Pleader M K Subramanian to get instructions from the state government on a PIL by Vellingiri Hill Tribal Protection Society, and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks. The petitioner sought a court direction to Tamil Nadu government to restore wetlands by demolishing unauthorised construction allegedly put up by Isha Foundation at Ikkarai Poluvampatti village in Coimbatore district. The society submitted that the hamlet comes under Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA) as per a Government Order of April 22, 1990. It alleged that Isha Foundation had on February 22, 2011 acquired 3.26 acres at the village. Later, it had purchased another three acres in benami names in the same village. The foundation had begun work on a one lakh square foot building without due approvals from departments concerned, the society said. The “illegal construction” was being carried out using huge granite rocks and iron rods. The work was taking place even at night, scaring wild animals, which flee into cultivable lands, causing huge losses to people, the petitioner added. The society said it had exhausted all remedies available under law to redress his grievances and moved court as a last resort. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil the statue of Adiyogi, to be consecrated by Isha Foundation founder Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on February 24 on Maha Shivaratri at the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Grossly errorenous reporting: Enivornment Ministry on BBC’s docu on Kaziranga reserve’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Environment Ministry has suggested “blacklisting” of a BBC producer for “grossly erroneous” reporting after its documentary projected the government’s anti-poaching strategy at Kaziranga Tiger reserve as “shoot-to-kill” policy. An Office Memorandum (OM) issued by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has taken strong objection to the documentary for portraying India’s wildlife conservation efforts at the reserve in “negative” light. BBC news South Asia Bureau and the producer of the documentary– ‘Killing For Conservation’– Justin Rowlatt has been issued a showcause notice asking them as to why their permissions should not be revoked. The documentary examines the government’s anti-poaching policy and seeks to find if the communities in the areas near the reserve have been affected. The NTCA in its showcase has also asked the documentary to be removed from online portals with immediate effect and directed the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom to take action. “As per (powers) vested by section 38 0(k) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, this authority hearby directs the BBC News South Asia Bureau and Justin Rowlatt to showcause as to why their permissions should not be revoked for violating clauses of the no-objection and clearances given by this authority within seven days,” the OM said. If the BBC fails to comply, its filming permission in all the tiger reserves of the country stand revoked, it said. “Further, the said documentary uploaded on various online portals be removed with immediate effect by parties concerned. The Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom is requested to take action as appropriate in the matter,” the OM said, adding it was a “breach of trust” by the producer. A BBC spoksperson, when contacted said the film makes clear the successes achieved by India’s conservation policies in preserving the country’s most iconic wildlife. “However, the film also expressly set out to explore the challenges of India’s conservation drive and during production it became clear that one of those challenges was the impact on communities living next to the park. “Our audiences expect us to bring them the full picture, while adhering to our editorial standards and this piece is no different,” the spokesperson said in a statement. The statement further said, “The issues raised in the film are part of an important international debate on the appropriate way to combat poaching. We did approach the relevant government authorities to make sure their position was fully reflected but they declined to take part.”(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Kaziranga: The park that shoots people to protect rhinos

The authorities at a national park protect the wildlife by shooting suspected poachers dead. But has the war against poaching gone too far?

Car rally held for camel welfare

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A car rally was taken out in the city today to raise the issue of camels being smuggled from India to neighbouring countries for slaughtering. The rallyists including people from different walks of life passed from state houses of West Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan, for prompting local governments to act against smuggling of camels to Bangladesh and Pakistan, said Nikita Anand, spokesperson of the organiser Dhyan Foundation. Camels, indispensable to economic life of locals in Rajasthan and Kutch, are fast disappearing and have been declared as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), she said. “Laws are openly being flouted as the camels are illegally trafficked for skin and meat to Bangladesh and Pakistan,” she said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Maha forest dept aims for ‘killer’ tigress as public pressure rises

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three deaths due to tiger attacks in Chandrapur this month have stirred massive public resentment, mobilising the Maharashtra Forest Department to capture the problem animal. Owing to public pressure, officials may consider eliminating the rogue wildcat — suspected of being a young tigress — if attempts to capture it prove futile.Cabinet Minister of Finance, Planning, and Forest Departments Sudhir Mungantiwar has issued orders for the feline to be captured, and has warned of action against officials in case of lapses.So far, three women have been mauled to death, and two villagers injured in the buffer zone of the Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve (TATR) and Bramhapuri forest division in Sindewahi Taluka.Forest officials said that a seven-member committee has sent its recommendation to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) seeking permission to kill the animal in case it could not be captured.Officials suspect that the feline responsible for two of these deaths in TATR buffer — on January 13 and 25 — is new to the territory. “Her camera trap images did not match with the repository in the TATR and the Chandrapur territorial area. It’s likely that the animal has come from another landscape,” a senior forest department official told DNA.”The tigress will not be killed if it can be tranquilised,” he stressed. Forest officials will be requesting the Chandrapur police to deploy sharpshooters if the consent come through.”There is fear among the people. The tigress appears in broad daylight, which is unusual. “The first option is to tranquilise and then undertake physical restraint using a cage. If this doesn’t work, the animal will have to be eliminated. There are many reasons for a tiger turning into a man-eater besides reasons like advanced age and injury. We can only arrive at conclusions after the animal is captured,” explained a forest official.Divisional forest officer and spokesperson of the state forest department’s wildlife wing Girish Vashisth confirmed that orders to capture the tigress were issued. However, he refused to comment if the animal would be killed if efforts to capture failed.The TATR and Chandrapur territorial area have a healthy tiger ecosystem. According to last year’s Phase IV camera trapping exercise, these habitats have 61 and 43 tigers respectively, the highest in Maharashtra. Officials say “overpopulation” has increased instances of conflict.National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)’s statistics show that tiger mortalities in Maharashtra between 2010 and 2016 stand at 65 due to accidents, poaching, natural causes and electrocution.

Authorities roll up sleeves to save tigers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the recent episodes of two tiger deaths due to poaching via electrocution within two months in Maharashtra, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has swung into action to implement a comprehensive set of preventive measures.DNA had reported the deaths of two tigers and three leopards within the first fortnight of 2017. Of these, deaths of the leopards and a tigress (at Khapa) were linked to poaching.On Tuesday, NTCA officials, led by Inspector General Debabrata Swain, met officials from the forest department, police, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MahaVitaran), and wildlife activists.A senior forest official said measures were discussed to control poaching, electrocution, and wildlife trade and monitoring the movement of certain nomadic communities, which are said to be involved in illegal hunting. “While tiger populations have risen, mortalities too have increased. Natural deaths are not a concern, but unnatural deaths, especially those due to electrocution and poisoning are,” the official said.“What makes these deaths more serious is that they have occurred in agriculture dominated areas. Lack of proper corridors may force tigers to disperse areas with human presence where threats of poisoning and electrocution remain,” the official said.Vulnerable areas will be mapped and joint patrolling will be undertaken by forest and the MahaVitaran staff. Height of electricity poles will be increased to prevent hooking (using a hook and wire to tap into the power supply). These poles will be shifted from forest and agricultural areas wherever possible.Water holes will be monitored and the water will be tested to detect poisoning. “Water bodies will be developed in forests during the summers to prevent animal movement towards human areas,” the official said. Also, Solar power fencing would prevent crop depredation by animals. The threat of these losses forced farmers to electrify their fences at times, the official said.“We will form a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to deal with these cases. Insulated cables and underground installations will prevent electrocutions by overhead wires. Awareness and capacity building will be conducted for forest staff and an automatic SMS and call-based system will generate alerts about illegal line tripping, which occurs when an animal is electrocuted,” he added.Kundan Hate, honorary wildlife warden, Nagpur, who was present at the meeting, said joint patrolling by MahaVitaran linemen and forest officials had revealed live wires before animals were harmed.Police patils in villages would be asked to keep a record of people who stayed there overnight to monitor the movement of nomadic communities who are said to be involved in poaching.

MoEF panel rejects clearance for Arcelor’s Saranda mine

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Steel giant ArcelorMittal India’s project to mine iron and manganese over 202.35 hectares of forest in the Sal forests of Saranda, Jharkhand, has been rejected a forest clearance by an expert panel of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The company had planned to feed the iron to its proposed 12 metric tonnes per annum steel plant, a project pegged at Rs 50,000 crore. The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the ministry took up the project for appraisal on January 10 in an urgent consultation, on directions of the Delhi High Court.On January 9, the HC passed an order directing the FAC to consider the forest clearance issue expeditiously so that in case the project is cleared, the company could execute the mining lease before expiry on January 11.While rejecting the proposal, the FAC said that, “any decision to allow mining leases or open up new areas in Saranda forest for mining needs to be taken after careful thought, particularly on the likely adverse effect on the ecology of the area.” It added that, “it is not desirable for the state government to assign forest land by way of lease in Saranda forest region” till the plan for sustainable mining in Saranda is finalised based on the Carrying Capacity Study by Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education and on the Integrated Wildlife Management Plan.“Considering the facts and circumstances in the present case, it is not recommended to grant approval under Section 2 (iii) of Forest Conservation Act, 1980,” the FAC said.Mining in Saranda forest, where the Singhbhum Elephant Reserve is notified, has been in controversy since the UPA years. The MoEF, during the tenure of former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, had cleared a mining project over 500 hectares of forest. The clearance had come under the scanner of Central Bureau of Investigation. It had also caused a tussle between Natarajan and her colleague Jairam Ramesh, the then Rural Development Minister, who criticised the project nod, as he was working on the Saranda Development Plan.

Chennai Olive Ridley death toll rises, has activists worried

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Activists working on conservation efforts of the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles in Chennai are a worried lot after over 40 dead turtles washed ashore over the last 20 days. On Monday alone, 13 bodies were recovered.Volunteers of Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN), that has been carrying out conservation activities on Chennai beaches since 1988, said these figures are limited to the 14-kilometre stretch between Marina Beach and Besant Nagar Beach, which they patrol every night from January to April during the turtle nesting season. Chennai beaches have upto 300 nests and each year the mortality rates are very high.”The nesting season has just begun and we already have 41 dead turtles on the beach,” said SSTCN coordinator Akila Balu.”A majority of these turtles die due to due to drowning after getting stuck in trawling nets. Some also end up losing a flipper or being hit by the propellor,” she said. Volunteers are already worried for what may lie ahead in February, the busiest month for turtles heading towards the beaches to lay eggs. “Fishing nets also threaten the hatchlings when they go back into the sea. There seems to be no concern from the fisheries department towards conservation of these turtles, who have been coming for thousands of years to our beaches,” she said.Trawlers and commercial fishing pose a major threat to these turtles, prompting the Tamil Nadu Government to pass orders last year prohibiting any type of fishing in a radius of five nautical miles around the nesting and breeding sites of ridleys.”Despite the orders one can find these trawlers all over. The fisheries department seems to be a mute spectator as the trawling and commercial fishing is owned by businessmen with strong backings,” said animal activist Shravan Krishnan.The Central Fisheries Department made it mandatory for trawlers to have a Turtle Excluder Device (TED), a small flap-like opening made in the nets so that turtles or dolphins can escape but none of the trawlers have it, said Krishnan.”While studies proved that only a marginal two to four per cent of the catch might escape from the TED, it would immensely help in conservation. However, there has been no action against defaulting trawlers by the government despite NGOs and the even Forest Department putting pressure,” he said.

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