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Old May 13th, 2017, 10:40 AM   #21
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Over 100 tiger sightings in Vidarbha during machan census

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The 24-hour-long waterhole estimation to count herbivores on May 10-11, the Buddha Pournima day, concluded without hassles with over 100 direct tiger sightings by volunteers in various parks in Vidarbha and buffer zone of Tadoba.

The 100 tiger sightings may not necessarily mean exactly 100 tigers were sighted and some may have overlapping entries. Many volunteers have admitted about good sightings in Tadoba-Andhari, Melghat, Pench, Bor and Navegaon-Nagzira tiger reserves.

MS Reddy, chief conservator of forests (CCF) & field director of Melghat, said, "Melghats's three divisions, Sipna, Gugamal and Akot, recorded 1, 9 and 10 tiger sightings, respectively.

The area in Akot division from where villages have been rehabilitated have become a good home for tigers due to better prey base, said Reddy and added, "Also, 300 sloth bears were sighted."

Volunteers sighted tigers even in Navegaon National Park, which was devoid of big cats. "Volunteers recorded tigers in Navegaon and Koka. Reports for Nagzira were yet to be compiled," said deputy director (core) of NNTR, Amlendu Pathak.

CCF & field director of Pench, Rishikesh Ranjan said core and buffer areas under the tiger reserve recorded 49 tigers and 14 leopards. "There were tiger sightings in almost 60% of the Pench area. This is a good indication," Ranjan told TOI.

This includes 36 tiger sightings in Pench and its buffer, 4 in Umred-Karhandla, six in Bor and New Bor and three in Tipeshwar. Apart from tigers, 3,870 chitals and 1,229 sambars were recorded.

"On Junapani machan in Deolapar, I was lucky to sight a tigress on solar waterhole in the morning and a male at night. Volunteers on three machans sighted these tigers," said Alok Meher, a senior research fellow.

Businessman Sameer Gharote, who was on Badi Chadhai machan, said, "We were in the area of Pench's Prince but were not so lucky. But we saw many herbivores and a pack of wild dogs."

Malcolm and Mary Titus said, "It was a well-organized census."

In Tadoba, there were reports of 12-15 tiger sightings from Mohurli, Tadoba and Kolsa ranges from at least 12 machans.

"I saw a male tiger on waterhole at 12 noon. In the evening, a tigress with two cubs, and another male was sighted separately," claimed Harshavardhan Chawhan, who was at Wanarchuha (Mohurli) with his friend Roshan Japulkar.

Deputy director (municipal administration) Sudhir Shambarkar sighted a male tiger Bajrang twice. "It appeared on the Mahalgaon lake at 6.44pm and then again in the morning. It was lifetime experience for my daughter Aishwarya," said Shambarkar.

Tadoba buffer saw record 27 tiger and nine leopard sightings. "We had 109 waterholes in which 252 volunteers and staff took part," said Gajendra Narwane, deputy director (buffer), Tadoba.
source

Pench tiger reserve roars with 44 tigers

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The number of tigers in Maharashtra's Pench Tiger Reserve has increased to 44 this year, as compared to 31 in 2016.

The increase of 13 tigers was recorded in East Pench (Sillari), Chorbahuli, Saleghat and Deolapar areas of Mansinghdeo sanctuary, and Paoni and Nagalwadi. Officials said that of the 44 tigers recorded, 22 are males and 22 females. "An official report is still being finalised. But, yes, the number of tigers has gone up to 44 in the 660 sq km area where the estimation was done. This number doesn't include cubs, which are around 7-8," said Pench chief conservator of forests (CCF) and field director Rishikesh Ranjan.

As per National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines, the Phase IV annual estimation exercise with camera traps was conducted jointly by Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) and Pench Tiger Foundation over 21 days in January 2017.

The figure of 44 also includes a couple of tigers that have died since the January exercise in and around Pench. Since January this year, Pench has lost four tigers, of which two died in territorial fights. "Even though a couple of tiger deaths were not considered, increasing tiger numbers is also vindicated by death of tigers in territorial fights. It shows that growing Pench tiger population is crying for space," officials said.

Even as the death toll of tigers in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh has gone up to 42 in last 14 months, steady increase in tiger numbers in Maharashtra Pench is an achievement for wildlife wing and NGOs working in and around Pench.

Officials said five adults have been sharing common territory on the MP and Maharashtra border of Pench. However, during the exercise these tigers were recorded in Maharashtra Pench.

Wildlife conservationists attributed Pench success to former field director MS Reddy, who took over Pench when the number of tigers was 19. Reddy said, "I have not seen the report but yes, team work has yielded desired results."
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Old May 24th, 2017, 10:57 AM   #22
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Old May 25th, 2017, 07:44 AM   #23
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Finally, Gorewada zoo gets forest clearance

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Finally, after more than 12 years, decks have been cleared for construction of curtailed Gorewada International Zoo with Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) granting clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 to 79.07 hectares, which is 15% of the total 564 hectares where all attractions will come.

Of the 564 hectares, for which forest diversion was sought for zoo items, 25 hectares already houses a rescue centre, quarters and administrative block.

This is for the third time that the project has been curtailed. Initially, the international level zoo was to come up in 850 hectares at the cost of Rs760 crores. Owing to huge cost, it was curtailed to 564 hectares for Rs 451.35 crore. Though proposal for forest clearance for 564 hectares was sent, FAC gave clearance to that much area where construction activity will change land use.

However, principal secretary (forest) Vikas Kharge said, "The proposal area has not been curtailed. As a special case, forest clearance has been granted for specific area where land use will change."

The Maharashtra government had decided to develop the zoo on December 12, 2005. It was handed over to Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) on November 29, 2011.

Among all other financial and technical hurdles, forest clearance was one of the biggest, which has now been cleared. FAC, country's topmost body under the MoEFCC granting forest clearances, recommended the proposal on April 25.

However, FAC has restricted the diversion of forest area for non-forestry activities to 79.07 hectares only, which is 15% of the total 564 hectares forest land for which clearance was sought by FDCM.

According to sources, FAC considered zoo as an ancillary activity to forest and wildlife protection and hence limited 79.07 hectare area only for non-forestry activities. FAC felt that the proposal involves both forestry and non-forestry activities. The non-forest activities will permanently change land use. It seems the FAC has gone an extra mile to clear the project, especially after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis himself pursued the proposal with Delhi.

Forest sources said with less forest land diversion now, net present value (NPV) will be charged for 15% area only. The state had requested for exemption of NPV and compensatory afforestation (CA) payment which has been brought down drastically.

"This will not only save government money but also stop project cost escalation," they added.

Gorewada forest falls under Eco-class III and the vegetation density from 0.2 to 0.6. For such areas, NPV & CA cost would have come to roughly Rs120 crore for 564 hectares. However, FCA has said NPV for 15% of the area diverted will be charged bringing the cost to Rs20 crore.

The FAC has also said that CA shall be raised on zudpi jungle area equivalent area to 30% (170 hectares) of the total area of 564 hectares sought for diversion. The afforestation will be taken up on zudpi jungle land in Nagpur, Wardha and Bhandara forest divisions.

Now as per the new land use plan, actual 79.07 hectare area to be disforested for Indian Safari will be (6.37ha), African Safari (4.55ha), Biopark (12.59ha), Trails (5.01ha), Bird Aviaries (3.59ha), Water Reservoir (28.03ha), Entry Plaza & Children Park (12.19ha), other activity (6.29ha) and rescue centre (0.45ha).

Earlier, the same entertainments were to come up in total 564ha area. "However, now actual land use area to be disforested which has been considered is 79.07 hectares," said sources.

Actually speaking, rescue centre has already been constructed three years ago in 25 hectares without taking FCA clearance and its area has been included in 564 hectares sought for diversion. But in the FCA recommendation, the area of diversion for rescue centre has been shown as 0.45 hectare.

On Tuesday, considering that FAC clearance has been granted, Fadnavis took a review of Gorewada and directed FDCM to start work on Indian Safari and Night Safari and set a fresh target of 2018.

Sources said FDCM has already shortlisted Kolhapur-based firm to construct Indian Safari. Now it will be a formality to issue work order to the company along with copy of FCA clearance.
source

Last edited by lurky; May 25th, 2017 at 07:45 AM. Reason: added source
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