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18th Sanctuary Wildlife Awards: From saving tigers to teaching wildlife conservation; know these green crusaders

From a Nagpur based lawyer whose legal acumen has helped in keeping poachers behind bars to a ‘bird nerd’ who became the first Indian to complete a ‘Big Year’ to a young wildlife biologist who has helped understand Mumbai’s leopards better-these are some of the environment protectors amongst others who will be felicitated for their exemplary and dedicated work towards protection and conservation of Indian wildlife by Sanctuary Nature Foundation on Friday.DNA lists some of the bravehearts and winners amongst the 13 who will be awarded the 18th Sanctuary Wildlife Awards who during a function at National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) on December 8, 2017 in Mumbai.Valmik Thapar- Lifetime Service AwardHe hardly needs any introduction and has been leading the battle to save the Tigers. Thapar has spent almost four decades tracking and protecting the most enigmatic cat and has taken their story to across the globe through his books and photographs. He has also served on over 150 committees of both central and state governments. His influence has been expansive, and though today he works almost exclusively in Rajasthan, with the state government, he has been instrumental in the revitalisation of other parks such as Maharashtra’s beloved Tadoba Tiger Reserve. Author of 32 books, including four on Africa, presenter of 16 international documentary films, and an excellent orator, Valmik Thapar’s gruff genius is what it took for India and the world to sit up and acknowledge the tiger’s magnificence, its predicament, and the urgency for conservation. Jayachandran S- Wildlife Service AwardsJayachandran S. has been at the forefront of the fight to save the Nilgiri and Sathyamangalam landscape in Tamil Nadu’s Western Ghats for over three decades. It was in 1990 that he started the Tamil Nadu Green Movement and, ever since, this people-powered initiative has stemmed the onslaught of unscrupulous industries and the timber mafia on this global biodiversity hotspot. He is a scrappy fighter, yes. But he’s also a solutions provider. By establishing a web of intelligence networks, he has been instrumental in helping the Kerala and Tamil Nadu Forest Departments bust poaching rackets, make seizures and apprehend hardened poachers. He has inspired many poachers to turn over a new leaf by surrendering their arms and ensuring alternate livelihood opportunities for them. Many of these ex-poachers today help the Forest Departments in blowing the cover on the modus operandi and operations of active wildlife criminals. Jayachandran is a hero whose contributions it is impossible to justly chronicle. He is a man in whose steps we hope many more will follow.Kartik Shukul- Wildlife Service AwardsIt was in the year 2013 that he managed to convince the judiciary that just because poaching attracted a sentence of seven years, it did not mean that the accused should be granted bail immediately. His legal acumen helped changed the perspective that the crime of poaching should be judged on the basis of its impact and it has ensured that several poachers not only went behind bars but also stayed behind it.A special public prosecutor for the State of Maharshtra, Nagpur based Shukul has ensured that in the year 2017 itself there were six convictions in tiger poaching cases. Despite the tedious rigours of his work, Shukul also manages to devote many hours every month to building capacity within members of the lower judiciary, police officers, Forest Department, and fellow lawyers by teaching them how to effectively wield his weapon of choice – the Wild Life Protection Act. Kartik Shukul is a man of integrity and intelligence, whose resilience is taking out wildlife criminals one court case at a time.Ramesh Pratap Singh, (IFS (Retd.)- Wildlife Service AwardsAfter serving in the Indian Forestry Services for more than three decades, R P Singh has worked through every tangent of wildlife conservation required to enable the revival of some of India’s most visited tiger destinations. His profound understanding of wildlife conservation, forest management, administration and law and his sensitivity to local communities, led to landmark developments across various Protected Areas. From voluntary relocations to wildlife crime control, Singh displayed exemplary management capability. R P Singh, in the pursuit of the preservation and protection of his beloved wilds, has left an indelible mark in India’s history of forest management and conservation, inspiring a whole generation of young officers.Shashank Dalvi- Wildlife Service Awards While birding at Jamnagar on the evening of December 31, 2015, Mumbai based wildlife biologist Shashank Dalvi spotted a Common Ringed Plover just an hour before dusk. While for others it might have been an end of a typical birding day, but for him it meant being the first Indian to not only successfully complete the prestigious ‘Big Year’ (an informal competition initiated in the United States amongst birders to check who can record the maximum number of birds in a span of one calender year) challenge taken up by birders but also recording a whooping 1128 birds in a calender year. Infact in 2016 he along with a team of scientists found a new species of bird- Himalayan Forest Thrush, a new bird species to science, and only the fourth bird to be described from India since its independence and named it after Indian ornithologist Dr Salim Ali. In 2012, he was a member of the team that discovered the shocking Amur Falcon massacre in Doyang, Nagaland, which catalysed an International conservation movement. A self-professed ‘bird nerd’, his long-term goal is to pioneer a nation-wide conservation programme for birds outside Protected Areas.KS Smitha- Green Teacher AwardSmitha’s passion for the wild coalesced with her love for children in 1997, the year she chose teaching as her profession. Ever since, Smitha has been an affable pied-piper, leading her students to the tunes of conservation. Having built a green army, she spares no opportunity in taking her regiments of future green activists out of the classroom to explore and marvel at the beauty of nature. In order to fulfill her fundamental agenda of connecting children with nature, she has created multiple nature clubs for her school. Smitha, along with her students, has even lead an agitation against the Kolkata municipal corporation when it decided bulldoze dozens of trees for a road-widening project. She petitioned, rallied and took concrete steps to stop the rampage. Nikit Surve- Young Naturalist Awards Nikit is credited with conducting the first-ever official, scientific census of leopards in the urban wilderness known as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and has been able to showcase how the leopards are co-existing with humans. At 25, Nikit is a Research Associate with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and is working with dedication and passion on a complex and burning conservation issue – that of sharing space with our wild cat neighbours. Surve has also been helping the forest guards to understand more about leopards and engage them in understanding how camera trappings is carried out. He engages in impactful awareness campaigns based on his research findings that he conducts in schools, colleges and even in the remote sugarcane fields of Maharashtra, where communities live. Pandurang Pakhale- Special Sanctuary Tiger AwardsAn iron man of the Maharashtra Forest Department, he is presently posted at the Pench Tiger Reserve as a Range Forest Officer (RFO) of East Pench Range. He is responsible for the arrest of more than a dozen tiger poachers. He has continued investigations despite strong protests and police complaints – the result of political clout and support of fish mafia for the poachers. In January 2017, he took on pangolin traders and poachers whom he took to court and stood up to political leaders who demanded his arrest and transfer. He also busted monitor lizard poachers and arrested eight of them in June 2017.

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Tiger killed by carnivore in buffer zone of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In more bad news for tigers and animal lovers in Maharashtra, the state lost yet another tiger. The big cat was killed by another carnivore in the buffer zone of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. (TATR).This has taken the number of tiger mortalities in Maharashtra this year to 15, which is at par with the highest toll recorded.State forest department officials said that forest department staff, who were visiting the Janala village in Chandrapur after a farmer’s cow was killed by a tiger, had chanced upon the carcass of the slain big cat on Wednesday. “The tiger may have been killed in a fight with another tiger. The slain tiger was aged around one-and-half years,” said an official. The tail and a rear leg of the killed tiger was severed from his body during the fight and some part of the body was also eaten by wild animals making it difficult to identify the gender. “The other tiger too may have been injured badly in the fight as we heard it cry out in pain at a distance,” the official added. In 2016, India lost 98 tigers–the highest since 2010 and this year, the toll stands at 79.In 2016, Maharashtra accounted for 15 mortalities–the highest so far. In 2015, Maharashtra’s tiger deaths stood at 12, up from seven in 2014 and 10 in 2013. Tiger mortalities were 13 in 2012 and four each in 2011 and 2010. As on November 17 this year, the tiger deaths in Maharashtra are 15. 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. 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.

Two arrested for poaching tigers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what may reveal a larger wildlife crime racket with international links, the state forest department has nabbed two people for allegedly poaching two tigers. The arrests have been made in the proximity of the Pench tiger reserve near Nagpur, which is estimated to have around 44 tigers.Devidas Kumre and Babulal Kumre were arrested from the Usripar village in Ramtek taluka located near Pench’s Deolapar range late on Monday and tiger body parts including 12kg bones and nails were recovered. Since most tiger parts, including bones, have a huge demand in China for medicine, the department will investigate if these alleged poachers have links with these international syndicates.In six months, Maharashtra has lost nine tigers with the nationwide toll standing at 58. These mortality figures for the state include two poachings via electrocution, including a tigress at Khapa near Nagpur on January 13 and Srinivas (T10), the son of Maharashtra’s iconic tiger Jai on April 27.”Tiger poaching has been detected. At least more than one,” Rishikesh Ranjan, chief conservator of forests (CCF), Pench Tiger Reserve, told DNA. He added that they suspected that more people were involved in the hunting.Ranjan said the arrested accused were fishermen who had illegally fished in the Pench Totladoh reservoir located inside the tiger project’s core.N Rambabu, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF), said they had gathered intelligence about these poachers while investigating pangolin poaching rackets operating in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.Pandurang Pakhale, Range Forest Officer (RFO), Pench tiger reserve, said they had seized 12 kg bones, 13 nails and other tiger body parts from the two accused. He added that they had been remanded to forest custody till July 1.”The accused are changing their statements on where they killed the tigers and how this was done. It is for sure that more than one tiger has been killed as some bones seem fresh, while the other parts are dry,” said Pakhale.

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.

Decomposed carcass of tigress found in Pench reserve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A highly decomposed carcass of a tigress was found in the Mansinghdeo wildlife sanctuary of Saleghat forest range in Pench Tiger reserve. “The carcass of the tigress was noticed by the forest department’s patrolling staff on April 17 but since the area falls in the deep interiors of the jungle the message was conveyed to senior officials late,” deputy director of Pench Forest Reserve SB Bhalavi told(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Three lakh trees planted in last 3-years between Kanha-Pench

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In India’s first private initiative to improve the green cover, a total of three lakh trees have been planted on approximately 300 hectares of forest and community land between Kanha and Pench wildlife sanctuaries. The project was initiated in August 2014, and is a joint project of Vodafone India and Grow-Trees.com. The Kanha-Pench afforestation project involved planting 100,000 saplings over 100 hectares of forest land between Kanha Tiger Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh and Pench in Maharashtra every year for three years. In the first two phases 2 lakh saplings were planted near Rata and Dhodhara village (near Kanha) along the corridor. Similarly, in the just concluded last phase, 1 lakh saplings were planted near Karwahi village with the active involvement of villages along the corridor creating livelihood opportunities to them. The successful completion of the green corridor project was announced by Ashish Chandra, Business Head-Maharashtra & Goa, Vodafone India and Bikram Tiwary, CEO, Grow-Trees.com at a press meet in Nagpur. “This unique project has enabled Vodafone to offset 33 million kg of carbon footprint generated by our offices. More importantly, we have been able to create livelihood opportunities, enable reforestation and facilitate habitat connectivity in tiger breeding areas between Kanha and Pench reserves,” said Chandra. “This is a win-win proposition for all — the organisation, the community and the environment, exemplifying the true spirit of sustainability. “The local villagers have got an employment opportunity through this project,” said Chandra. Speaking on the occasion, Tiwary said the project has created direct jobs for villagers and tribal communities inhabiting the areas. The trees are planted by the villagers and also maintained by them, he said. “The survival rate of the plantations is about 80 percent. The plantations are done in the periphery of the wild zone and not in core zone of the forest,” said Tiwary.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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