Vigil stepped up at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

Patrolling has been intensified in dry areas; situation to be reviewed end of the month

Udhagamandalam: Owing to the dry conditions prevailing in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) and its surroundings the Disaster Management Centre at Mudumalai has been placed in a state of high alert, said the Field Director, MTR, Rajiv K. Srivastava while speaking to The Hindu here on Monday.

Not to be disturbed: Elephants crossing the road at the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve near Udhagamandalam.

Precaution

Though the situation is as of now not alarming adequate precautionary measures have been taken.

While about half the 326 sq. mts. reserve has become dry, the remaining areas are still green thanks to the rain received late last year.

While the storage in the Game Hut and Ombetta reservoirs is comfortable about 70 percent of the water holes had enough water to last for about 15 days.

About 20 more water holes have been created. They will be filled with the help of tankers.

Stating that the reserve will remain closed between February 19 and 25 for the tiger census, he said that the situation will be reviewed towards the end of the month. Though bush fires have so far not occurred in any part of the reserve patrolling has been intensified in the dry areas.

Officials of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu will meet shortly to take stock of the situation.

Migration

Pointing out that migration of wild animals particularly elephants towards Mudumalai is showing signs of increasing, he said that steps have been taken to caution people passing through the reserve. On no account should the privacy of the animals be disturbed.

Stating that arrangements are being made to celebrate ‘Tiger Day’ and ‘Elephant Day’ at the reserve, he said that among the main participants would be the students of the Government Deaf School and members of the orphanage here. They will highlight the need to protect the ‘mute population’.

Adverting to the Mariamman temple car festival scheduled to be held at Bokkapuram, near Mudumalai, next week, Mr. Srivastava said that since a large number of devotees are expected to flock to the temple a separate strategy will be evolved to prevent accidental fires.

From THE HINDU

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Mudumalai to be closed

Udhagamandalam: The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) near here will remain closed between February 19 and 25.

Field Director, MTR, Rajiv K.Srivastava on Friday said that it was to facilitate the conduct of the second All India Tiger, Co-predators, Prey Species Census and habitat monitoring and Phase 1 data collection exercise from February 20 to 25. Members of the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association, the World Wide Fund for Nature, students of the Government Arts College among others would participate.

From THE HINDU

Ooty: Forest officials rescue deer

First Aid: An injured deer being treated by forest officials in Gudalur on Sunday.

Udhagamandalam: A helping hand was extended to an injured deer at Gudalur on Sunday.

Sources in the forest department told The Hindu here on Monday that an injured deer had been spotted frequently over the past few days in Maakamullah area of Gudalur.

The animal which seemed to be suffering a great deal had collapsed on Sunday.

People in the vicinity had taken the plight of the deer to the notice of forest officials who rushed to the spot along with a veterinarian and provided first aid .Since it was very weak glucose was also given.

After the animal recovered it was shifted to Theppakadu inside the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve for further treatment.

From THE HINDU

Safety: Commando force to deal with bush fires at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

Training programme to be organised at the end of this month

Steps will be taken to enhance awareness among the local people

More fire watchers would be pressed into service for speedy action

Udhagamandalam: With the dry season just a few weeks away, a plan of action has been put in place at the 321 square kilometre Mudumalai Tiger Reserve near here to combat bush fires.

Though the recent rains have reduced to an extent the chances of bush fires breaking out in the reserve and compared to last year the vegetation was not so dry now, wildlife officials are not taking any chances.

Stating that the occurrence of forest fires was a major source of concern during this part of the year, the Field Director of the Reserve Rajiv K.Srivastava told The Hindu over phone on Saturday that a Commando Force to deal with bush fires was in the process of being formed.

A four- or five-day training programme would be organized for them towards the end of December.

Classes dealing with various aspects of bush fires would be conducted by resource persons.

Simultaneously, steps will be taken to enhance awareness among the local people.

For the first time a siren would be installed at a suitable part of the reserve to warn people about the occurrence of bush fires.

The Disaster Management Centre which came into being last year would be upgraded and provided with more equipment.

More fire watchers would be pressed into service.

Based on last year’s migration pattern, steps were being taken to provide about twenty more water troughs.

Stating that they will be filled with water transported through tankers, he said that efforts would be made to create more check dams.

Pointing out that there was enough water in some of the percolation dams, Mr.Srivastava said that activities associated with the drawing of fire lines would be taken up shortly.

Unauthorised entry into reserves will be viewed very seriously and stringent action would be taken against persons responsible for forest fires.

From THE HINDU

Ooty: Mudumalai Tiger Reserve to sport new features

Udhagamandalam: The 321-sq.km. Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) near here will soon sport new features that are expected to strengthen conservation efforts and at the same time spur development.

Come December the MTR will have an Eco-Shop.

More facilities: The Interpretation Centre at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, near Udhagamandalam. — Photo: Special Arrangement

Disclosing this to The Hindu here, the Field Director of the reserve, Rajiv K. Srivastava, said that it will be run by an Eco-Development Committee comprising tribals on the lines of a souvenir shop.

Apart from items which espouse the cause of wildlife conservation, it will sell the products of various tribal communities including Kurumbas, Todas and Kotas.

Stating that by early January another tribal Eco-Development Committee will start conducting eco-camps at places like Pudhu Natham and Chemanatham, Mr. Srivastava said that awareness about nature will be created by organising various activities like treks.

Another tribal committee will promote rural tourism in places near the MTR like Bhoodhanatham and Kurumbarpadi. It will include bullock cart rides and ethnic food.Stating that the aim is to relieve congestion within the MTR, he said that over the years the inflow of tourists has been steadily rising.

From 94,945 visitors including foreigners in 1995-96 it went up to 1,20,402 during 2005-2006 and last year it was 1,63,610.

There is also a proposal to set up a children’s park and two plants to produce vermicompost.

By organising such activities the pressure on the MTR will come down and the livelihood status of the tribals residing in or near the forests will move up.

He added that finishing touches are being given to a new reception centre and a new interpretation centre near Theppakadu.

From THE HINDU

India – Two arrested while trying to sell tiger skin in Erode

COIMBATORE: Wildlife conservationists express grave concern over the dwindling numbers of the national animal, and rightly so. The forest
department has seized the skin of a young tiger at Chellampalayam, near Sathyamangalam town in Erode district in western Tamil Nadu.

Two persons were caught transporting the tiger skin, stuffed in a blue plastic bag, on a scooter late on Tuesday. “It looks like the skin of a tiger just about one year old,” Sathyamangalam divisional forest officer S Ramasubramaniam told TOI.

While the tiger population in the rest of the country is on the decline, the numbers of the big, striped cat are said to be going up in south India, especially in Tamil Nadu. In the Sathyamangalam reserve forests, where no tigers were sighted till five years ago, at least 10 were spotted in the latest census. Similarly, the latest studies in the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary too have revealed a healthy tiger population.

Sathyamangalam forest officials received a tip-off last week that a group was trying to sell a tiger skin at Annur in Coimbatore district. Posing as buyers, forest staff approached Nadeem Mujir, 32, and P Subramaniam, 50, at their residence in Annur. The duo offered to sell the skin for Rs 2 lakh. The forest department team asked them to bring the skin to Chellampalayam. The duo came on a scooter and halted near a school at Chellampalayam, where forest officials lay in wait.

When the forest officials showed the cash, Mujir and Subramaniam took out the tiger skin. Immediately, they were nabbed.

During interrogation, they insisted that the tiger skin was sourced from a poacher in Kerala about six months ago. “However, we are yet to confirm if it was bought in Kerala,” Ramasubramaniam said. A team would leave for Kerala to find out the source, he said.

According to officials, the last seizure of tiger skin in Tamil Nadu was made in 2007 in the Kotagiri forest range of Niligirs north division. Calling for greater vigil, K Kalidasan, of wildlife NGO Osai, warned that with tiger sightings on the increase in south India, poachers might shift their sights to their new, thriving habitats.

From TIMESOFINDIA