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.
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.
By Aniruddha Dhamorikar
Featuring research supported by the DeFries-Bajpai Foundation
It is hard to tell if it is the same river you cross after every hill you descend. The jungle is new at every turn, and I might as well have crossed one-too-many. We were in the hills of Seoni, close to the Pench Tiger Reserve, the land Kipling adopted in The Jungle Book (1894-95), the land of many hills and rivers, and stories. One late afternoon, I halted at a large rock jutting out from a dry river, looking at tilting ribbons of light cast rippling shadows on the dusty bedrock. It was too early in the year for the rivers to turn into puddles.
At another time, along one such river, one late afternoon, the ‘Jungle People’ were gathering by the Peace Rock. The rains had failed, rivers shrunk, and trees and vines shrivelled and withered. “If I were alone,” mumbled Baloo, “I would change my hunting-grounds now, before the others began to think.” As a kid, Kipling’s narration of how fear came always made my hair stand on end. “And yet – hunting among strangers ends in fighting; and they might hurt the Man-cub. We must wait and see how the Mohwa blooms,” Baloo added.
Earlier than Kipling, James Forsyth in The Highlands of Central India (1872) writes that sloth bears “appear to lose their natural apprehensions of danger in some degree during the Mohwa season.”
Dunbar Brander in Wild Animals in Central India (1927) speaks of them as being “the most intelligent animal in the jungle, the primates excepted,” adding that “The time of plenty is when the fleshy calyx of the Mohwa tree is continually dropping, and it is an extraordinary sight to see the bears competing with each other so as to be first on the spot.”
Thus far, in my journeys through the Kanha-Pench landscape, sloth bears have always eluded me. A decade ago, in another landscape, on another bend on the hill, I had come face-to-face with an indolent bear loitering down a shallow dell. Needless to say, I was off in the opposite direction. To each his own fear, Baloo would have said. Forsyth describes sloth bears as “generally very harmless until attacked” adding darkly that “sometimes, however, a bear will attack savagely without provocation – generally, when they are come upon suddenly, and their road of escape is cut off”. Brander opined that, “a she-bear with cubs is a most dangerous animal to disturb” and “it is a jungle axiom that one never can say what a bear will do”.
Be that as it may, humans and sloth bears have coexisted more-or-less effortlessly for centuries.
Read more in the original article, published as a cover story on the February 2018 edition of Sanctuary Asia, where Aniruddha Dhamorikar writes of the changing landscape for sloth bears in their Central Indian strongholds and offers glimpses of solutions to human-bear conflicts that could determine the future of the species.
-- The Last Wilderness Foundation
The Last Wilderness Foundation runs a unique and innovative project called the Village Awareness programme, in association with the Kanha Tiger Reserve Forest Department. The programme aims to help pivotal stakeholders of conservation - the communities and children living in the buffer areas of the park - to understand the importance of the forest and imperativeness of conserving it. The programme ultimately hopes to develop a connection of appreciation between these stakeholders and nature.
The second leg of the programme was just completed in the buffer zone of the tiger reserve. This component focussed on-grounds problems in the target villages, and specifically helped deepen the connection between children and nature. The programme was initiated from 26th- 31st May and covered 5 villages located in close proximity of the park.
Read more about the programme, including the detailed report, on their website.
Species and Landscapes Programme, WWF India
In order to minimize the impact of unsustainable agriculture practices in the Satpuda-Pench corridor, a critical stretch of forest connecting the Satpuda and Pench Tiger Reserves in Central India, 2000 farmers from 22 villages located along the Satpuda-Pench corridor have enrolled in an organic cotton cultivation project implemented by WWF-India and C&A Foundation. Intensive farming practices which entail higher costs have resulted in significantly reduced incomes from agriculture and in turn led to soil degradation, reduced water availability and quality in the villages in this ecologically fragile area.
The organic cotton project has trained the farmers in organic cotton cultivation by setting up demonstration plots and providing training for pest management, preparation of organic manure and bioreagents, nutrient management and use of non-GMO cotton seeds. The cotton produced as a result of this project will be procured by a Denmark based garment company called ‘Neutral’ at a premium. By 2018, the aim is to get 6000 famers in the corridor villages to go organic, earning them a premium for the produce and significantly reducing the impact of unsustainable agricultural practices all along the Satpuda-Pench corridor.
Project Spotlight highlights our members' work in Central India.
|Network for Conserving Central India||