Save Our Tigers
The wedding of British comedian Russel Brand and the US pop singer Katy Perry in Ranthambhore during recently gave the world’s biggest tiger reserve international publicity. Several years ago, when President Bill Clinton visited Ranthambhore, it generated the same kind of publicity that helped the tourism cause of Ranthambhore. But when Brand and Perry were rejoicing in the luxurious comforts of Aman-I-Khas Resort on the outskirts of the tiger reserves, the tigers were fighting war of territorial supremacy inside the park. In one such territorial fight a tiger was killed. Thus it was not the poacher, but tiger who were after the blood of each other.
A tigress was found dead in Pench Tiger Reserve, in Madhya Pradesh also in a suspected territorial fight. At Ranthambhore, the forest officials discovered the body of a young three-year-old tiger from the Kwaldi forest area.
“The injury mark on the dead tiger’s body indicates that it died while fighting for territorial supremacy with another tiger. There were grievous injury suffered by the tiger in neck and the forelimb. The dead tiger had a radio collar that was fitted by the Tiger Reserve Department to monitor its movement, so we could easily track it and to our horror found him lying dead. The dead tiger and its sister were occupying areas in Kamleshwar Mahadev forest area. It was great loss as the two tigers recently lost their mother. We have definite information that another fully-grown three-year old had started into the territory of the two tigers and in the ensuing fight for the space, one was killed. The tiger that emerged winner after the fight also suffered neck injury and was seen walking with a limp by the foresters,” said RS Shekhawat, District Forest Officer of Ranthambhore.
GTF Meet On Tiger Conservation
The young King of Bhutan, who visited the Ranthambhore National Park was thrilled to see the tiger conservation programme undertaken with great success. “There are 100 tigers in Bhutan and I wish we could also undertake such conservation programme in my country,” said the king.
When the King of Bhutan was visiting the tiger park, a global meet on tiger was on at Sariska, which recently saw the introduction of four tigers in the forest. A host of measures for tiger conservation came up during a discussion during the two-day Global Tiger Forum (GTF) meet. The GTF is the only inter-governmental tiger conservation organisation in the world. According to Rajesh Gopal, officiating secretary of GTF and member-secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), “This was a prelude to the Tiger Summit to be held in St Petersberg in Russia.”
The meeting was attended by all the seven-member countries out of the 14 tiger range countries as well as some non-members like Thailand. The national conservation plan of all these member countries was discussed and the challenges that lie ahead for tiger conservation was scrutinised.
The meeting also focused on international linkages between tiger countries so that those countries, which have lost tigers due to various factors, can get the big cat back by strengthening the natural corridors and other means. Breaking away from the notion of an India centric body, the Global Tiger Forum would soon be initiating steps for assuming a big brother role by helping out tiger range countries (TRCs) in tiger recovery and conservation plans.
As a first step, the GTF would soon be approaching the Union government for financial support and otherwise to be enabled its tiger range members for forming national core groups. It will also for a group of people with representation from its members for a Tiger Mission to the various TRCs.
“The support from the Indian government would enable us to handhold these members towards helping the TRCs for forming their national core group. On the other hand, the mission would help us study the conservation efforts in them,” said Rajesh Gopal.
The forum would also try and form a standard protocol for all these countries for effective tiger monitoring and conservation. It will also formulate steps for sorting out trans-border migtation of the tiger. The need for it was felt after nine countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and India, shared their revised national action plan for tiger conservation.
The issue of the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) coming into a formal partnership with the GTF drew much-debated torn between the need for the GTF to setup a fund with help from the GTI and the apprehension of the GTI then dictating terms for tiger conservation in individual countries. While the GTI showed interest in eventually drafting out a MoU for the same Gopal felt that otherwise.
“The GTI is committed but GTF has to assume a more global role. Since as of now it has a very India-centric role, the GTF will have to prepare some action plan as to what it can do then a MoU could be drafted out,” said Anand Seth, consultant for the World Bank. (PB)
In recent months three-four tigers moved out from the tiger reserve and two reached Madhya Pradesh, while one reached Keoladeo and another to Uttar Pradesh. One of the tiger that attacked forester NS Shaktawat and badly injured him at Ranthambhore is believed to have moved out from Ranthambhore and reached Keoladeo near Bharatpur.
“It is the young tiger who at times look for their own territory. Two years after their birth, they live with the mother and after that start looking for their own territory, where they could find their abode. While looking for territory they ensure that the area was safe and there were no human habitation. The areas should have enough water and prey that is required for survival. Often the young tiger looking for territory face the might of the older tiger, who try to drive out the new ones showing their territorial supremacy. It is these tigers, who are unable to counter the might of the older tiger who move out. The tiger that was killed, perhaps weaker and had to lose life while fighting for space in the jungle,” said Shekhawat.
The tiger reserve officials worry now is once the three-four tigers that strayed out from the tiger reserve would eventually return to their original abode and would look for a safe territory and there could be fight among the tiger once again.
Ranthambhore National Park in the past two years have done very well for tiger conservation and it is reported that there are 32 tigers in the reserve now, even after moving and relocating four tigers to Sariska sanctuary.
Thus the forest officials of Ranthambhore will have to create a balance to ensure that each tiger has space for free roaming in the jungle. It has to ensure that with the rise in population, the tiger should also have areas of operation and relocation of the tiger should be done to ensure they survive and do not lose life fighting with each other.
The state government introduced four tigers in the Sariska forest in 2008, after it was found that the forest which had about a dozen tigers once was devastated by the poachers who killed all of them for money. The poachers sold the skin and the teeth and other body parts in the flourishing Chinese market. After a lot of hue and cry raised over the issue and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh showed personal interest and intervention, three tigers were relocated into the Sariska forest by the State Forest Department.
But the Ashok Gehlot-ruled Rajasthan government recently received a bitter note from the Union Minister of state for environment and forest, Jairam Ramesh, who asked Gehlot to cancel all the 40 mining lease issued by the state government for mining on the outskirts of Sariska in the Aravali hill range.
”Sariska is more than just a tiger habitat. It is a region of the most-magnificent biodiversity that needs to be preserved and protected for ecological reasons that will benefit both the state and the country,” the letter by Ramesh read.
INDIA AND PAKISTAN WRESTLERS BOUT
Unlike their respective countries, which continue to have diplomatic and military bouts for the past six decades, the wrestlers from India and Pakistan fought on-the-field for few minutes and then presented a perfect picture of friendship off-the-wrestling arena.
As a part of regular annual feature since 2005, Pakistani wrestlers continue to come to holy town of Katra during Navratras to have wrestling bouts with Indians to clinch the title of “Mission Dosti Rustam-e-Indo-Pak Dangal”.
This year, the title was retained by Indian wrestler sixth time in succession, but the Pakistani who lost seemed as elated as a winner. Vijaypal of Uttar Pradesh won the title defeating Bashir Mohd alias Bhola of Sialkot in Pakistan in 13 minutes straight fight, who despite his defeat displayed an excellent sportsmanship spirit, saying that they want to test each other’s strength in the sporting arena rather than in battle field.
The Jammu and Kashmir Indian Style Wrestling Association organised this friendly event in association with the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, the Navratra Festival Committee, the J&K Department of Tourism, the Katra Municipal Committee and the district administration.
After witnessing three straight fights, the jam packed 30,000 odd crowd at Vivekananda stadium at Katra came to life when Indian wrestler Vijay Pal matted his Pakistani counterpart Mohd Bashir of Sialkote to win the title. Vijay Pal was awarded Silver Gurj, Patta and cash prize of Rs 31,000 and the runner-up got cash of Rs 20,000. There was song and dance and Pakistani team of wrestlers and management all swayed with the Indian crowd to the success of an Indian wrestler.
Bashir after losing said, “We are not here to claim victory or defeat but to strengthen the bond of friendship among the people of two nations. Every year, I mark the Navratra dates at my calendar well in advance just like Eid.” Though Indians were all behind Vijay Pal shouting slogans like Chak-de India, Bharat Mata ki Jai, they all applauded the good moves of the Pakistani wrestler in the finals.
Another wrestler, Afaat Sarar, who looked as much Indian as anyone else by his looks and chaste Punjabi except his passport, which pronounce him a Pakistani said, “This is my second time here, before Partition, my family used to live in Amritsar and since wrestling was ancestral profession, I too jumped into it. Speaking in chaste Punjabi, he said, we never look to these wrestling bouts as competition. Can there be any such thing between two brothers? It is the politicians, who have separated us by drawing this line of border between us. We are one.”
Out of a total number of four matches, the Pakistani wrestler Mohd Ali won the first battle. He was cheered by large number of local people as he crushed his Indian counterpart. In other main contests, wrestler Israr of Pakistan defeated Indian wrestler Benia, wrestler Bilu of India defeated Pakistani wrestler Safdar Ali. Likewise, wrestler Mehroop of Pakistan defeated Indian wrestler Sonu. The President of Jammu and Kashmir Indian Style Wrestling Association Shiv Kumar Sharma said, “The aim behind organising Mission Dosti tournament is to promote sporting ties between India and Pakistan.”
Sharma said the event is gaining popularity with each year and has become one of the favorite events for the organisers of the nine-day long Navratra festival. He said players from both the countries should be allowed to frequently travel across the border to play tournaments to promote sporting ties.
Another wrestler Bashir Sitara said, “We have come here to spread love, and not hatred. We get loads of love and respect here.” The manager of Pakistani team Khwaja Alludin said, “Every year, he looks forward to bring his men here and get soaked in the blessings of Goddess. I become vegetarian during Navratras, it comes from inside. Though, I have different religious allegiance but seeing many Muslims here too respecting the goddess, speaks tremendous secular fabric of India.”
Coach Abdul Majid too has a message of friendship and gives his tips to Indian wrestlers and said, “In future, whatever are the relations between two nations, they would continue to bring there wrestlers here.”
By Prakriiti Gupta from Katra
Ramesh in his note to Gehlot said: “Stressing that wanton excavations near Sariska was like ‘betraying Indira Gandhi’ who had launched the Project Tiger in 1973, the minister said, ‘I have been writing to you repeatedly… I attach yet another news item that appeared on Thursday on the subject. It is shocking that the Rajasthan government has given 40 mine leases near Sariska. I am afraid we would be betraying late prime minister Indira Gandhi under whose leadership Project Tiger was launched in April 1973. The state government should immediately act and cancel all these mining leases, the minister said, adding it is only a matter of time before somebody approaches the court, and if and when that happens, the MoEF(ministry) will fully support the petitioner. So it’s best that the state takes action now.”
The allotment of mining license would disturb the tiger conservation programme in the Sariska forest and it was a pity that the same government that was supporting tiger conservation programme indulged in activity that would spoil the tiger conservation programme. The issuance of mining license on the outskirts of the Sariska forest would increase human activities, thus spoiling the programme.
According to an hotelier of Ranthambhore Balendu Singh, the tiger conservation programme at Ranthambhore should be made more effective and all measures should be taken to ensure that there were no poaching and the tiger should not stray out of the reserve. The state government should ensure building of wall in the 392-square kilometer area of the tiger reserve.
India is a leading partner as a country having good tiger population in Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), a body involved in global tiger protection programme. But India has snubbed the World Bank by writing to it that it won’t allow the lending institution to play Big Brother and manage and monitor its efforts to conserve the Indian tiger under the GTI, a recent project favoured by bank president Robert B Zoellick. The GTI has organised a summit of the heads of state of countries, which boast of a tiger population, in Russia in November. But India will only send a ministerial-level delegation and not the PM to the meeting.
The WB has been keen to get India on board, as it would be odd to sell a global project to save the tigers when the country with the largest population of the big cat in the wild is unwilling to be a part of. Earlier, the bank had lobbied hard that India borrow money from it to conserve and protect tigers. But the government has recently made it clear that it neither required money nor expertise from other countries.
However, not intending to outright reject a proposal from the multilateral funding agency it decided to participate in the GTI to enhance global cooperation on issues that did not involve direct conservation work in the tiger reserves. But while the Indian government was taking such bold initiatives, the Rajasthan government was working against the federal policy.
By Prakash Bhandari