The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) recently launched a website and released a report titled "A Policy Framework for Connectivity Conservation and Smart Green Linear Infrastructure in the Central Indian and Eastern Ghats Tiger Landscape." According to Milind Pariwakam, a wildlife biologist at WCT, while several reports, studies, and guidelines aim to address the issue of mitigating the negative impacts of such linear infrastructure on natural landscapes and conserving the connectivity that they offer to small populations of endangered species of wildlife, there is a lack of timely information on whether a particular project is likely to affect corridor/s.
Pariwakam further states that this report primarily seeks to address this specific lacuna by leveraging on earlier work by other entities and presents a way forward for better planning of linear infrastructure without compromising on the connectivity needs of wildlife. The same framework with improvements can be adopted by the statutory agencies for the other three important tiger landscapes in India, namely, the Western Ghats, Shivalik-Gangetic Landscape and the North East Indian Landscape by incorporating information on the corridors and proposed projects in the respective landscapes. Work is in progress on the other three reports.
MSc student, University of Delhi
Kanha Tiger Reserve, a popular tiger tourism destination, is a mixed forest characterised by
patches of sal, bamboo and beautiful vast grasslands. These different habitats support a large
population of ungulates - a diverse group of hoofed mammals. Ungulates like chital, chinkara, wild buffalo and many others form a major part of tiger diet. In fact, survival of large carnivores such as tigers depends directly on the prey base or the ungulate density. Understanding specific requirements of different ungulates is hence crucial for maintaining a healthy and diverse ungulate population and in turn high tiger numbers.
In a recent study, researchers from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Madhya Pradesh
Forest Department, Mandla, documented the effect of human use, season and habitat on
ungulate density in Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Researchers walked on 200
pre-determined paths covering 1200 sq km for estimating densities of six species of ungulates
which were barasingha, barking deer, chital, gaur, sambar and wild pig for each management
area and habitat type. Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) contains two management areas, first is
the core area which contains no human settlement and second is the buffer zone which is a
multiple use area with human settlements and is often comparatively more disturbed. The
study considered 4 different habitat types in KTR which were grassland, pure sal forest,
miscellaneous forest and bamboo mixed forest.
The study finds that the ungulate biomass in the core area is much higher, almost 4.8 times, in the core area compared to the buffer zone. Among all ungulates studied, chital was the most abundant with higher density in the core area compared to the buffer zone. A consistent result was obtained for both gaur and sambar. Barking deer and wild pig densities showed no marked difference in the two management areas. Nilgai was the only ungulate with higher densities in the buffer zone compared to the core area whereas barasingha and chousingha had no records from the buffer zone in this study. Absence of these two rare and endangered species from the buffer zone which has moderate to heavy human disturbance and their restricted presence in the core area highlights the need to maintain intact core areas which provide critical habitats for threatened species. To put simply, ungulates don’t like humans except maybe nilgai.
Senior Research Associate, Columbia University, New York, USA
Post updated on 4/25/2018
Are you interested in science, art, and sloth bear? Then you must check out this wonderful pictorial handbook published by The Corbett Foundation, and authored by NCCI members Aniruddha Dhamorikar, Kedar Gore, and Harendra Singh Bargali. The handbook is one of the outcomes from a project titled "Dynamics of Human–Sloth Bear Conflict in the Kanha-Pench Corridor, Madhya Pradesh, India" funded by the DeFries-Bajpai Foundation.
This handbook utilizes beautiful easy-to-understand illustrations to explain DOs and DON'Ts in case of an encounter with Sloth Bears (Melursus ursinus), locally called bhaloo or reech. Sloth Bear is legally protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 along with the tiger and the leopard. However, they are threatened because of merciless killing and habitat destruction. The content of this handbook is based on the findings from a study on human-sloth bear conflicts in Balaghat, Seoni, and Mandla districts of Madhya Pradesh.
This handbook has been endorsed by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, and is being made freely available among the local communities. A Hindi version of this handbook was also prepared for a wider outreach in the Kanha-Pench Corridor as well as other conflict-affected areas of Central India. It was officially released on April 23, 2018 at Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh) celebrating 50 years of the park.
Dhamorikar, A. H., Mehta, P., Bargali, H., Gore, K. (2017). Characteristics of human - sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) encounters and the resulting human casualties in the Kanha-Pench corridor, Madhya Pradesh, India. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0176612.
PhD student, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India
With fertile soil and agreeable climate, this ecosystem provides favorable conditions for
agriculture and human settlement. Clearing of land for agriculture has resulted in extensive
deforestation of this ecosystem over years. Human activities are considered the largest threat to this ecosystem. Panna and Sariska, where tigers recently went extinct and were re-introduced, are both tropical dry forests. Poaching was established as the main reason behind the extinctions.
By Jennie Miller, John Linnell, Vidya Athreya and Subharanjan Sen
This article is an outcome of discussions at the Central Indian Landscape Symposium (CILS) in December 2016 during the session on Coexistence Between People and Wildlife.
Wildlife managers and other conservation practitioners represent the wildlife they manage or research. When wildlife damages people’s property or affects the lives of family and friends, these authorities are often required to step beyond their areas of expertise and training to address the needs of people. Managing people well—especially in sensitive situations when they have faced a serious personal loss to wildlife—is critical to conserving wildlife.
But how exactly do you explain to a stranger that her husband has been mauled by a sloth bear, or tell a farmer that a tiger has devoured his cow on which he relies for his sustenance? Local people’s interactions with the administration—often considered a representation of wildlife itself—start with the way in which people are treated as they receive the news of such losses. These moments can be traumatic and emotionally charged, especially when it is a human life that has been lost. The households wrestling with these losses are then often expected to carry out long protracted procedures to claim financial compensation payments, a process which again defines their view of the larger administrative and governmental system, as well as shapes their future willingness to engage with wildlife authorities and tolerate the proximity of wildlife.
In such contexts, a conservation practitioner’s “people skills” play a critical, yet currently underappreciated, role. In that fraught moment, the individual who represents the authority is seen as a custodian of the wildlife species causing the loss (livestock, crop or human). They also take on another, greater role, that of a human being reacting to the loss of another human, one that requires empathy, humility, and respect. Some people possess these skills naturally and make for very effective wildlife managers with little need for further training. For others, these skills need to be taught and fostered by institutional culture. However, training in dealing with people in trauma and conflict has not been an important part of the curriculum for conservation biologists, practitioners, and wildlife managers. In this article, we build on our collective experiences as conservation professionals to discuss strategies related to public relations that could better equip researchers, forest administrations, and other conservation practitioners in caring for people as well as wildlife.
Read the full article in the Economic and Political Weekly (free on ResearchGate).
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