Bandhavgarh - RED FLAG.

Posted by: Shivir chordia on

 

A new season in a Tiger reserve  is always something one looks forward to, there is always news ....news about young cubs, news about the old tigers - how and what they are doing...news about tiger counts - who is showing off ? who is not ?.., news about birds - new winter migrants, etc.. etc ...then there is always news about new rules and regulations from the forest department...you always hear about something which never happened before the monsoons when you left the last bit of news about the reserve behind in hope for a new season ....and this makes the new season always something one looks forward to.....I was in Bandhavgarh again...all ready ..with a lot of hope..and a million wishes...below is what I saw...and what I heard...

  • 1. Chakradhara & Siddhababa meadows - You always run into this maidan ..(now only for route B)...it was for most regulars at Bandhavgarh a symbol of the reserve....along with Raj Bhera and the fort make up the most beautiful spots in Bandhavgarh....I was shocked to see that the Tall grass...was chopped off..the once green maidan which pretty much was a stage for great drama for the prey and the tiger is now a nice ground to play a game of football....in the name of cleaning the weeds...we have just taken away the most serene meadow....the one that gave us the nicely shot documentary "Tiger Kill".

 

  • 2. 2 deaths + 1 territory battle - The Tala range had 5 territorial females, namely Chakradhara, , Mirchaini, Chorbhera, Banbehi & Jhujhura. The region was also shared by 3 large males B2, Boka and the Bhamera male...this is how the dynamics have played out this year...

 

  • - Jhujhura and Banbehi are dead due to an accident and poisoning last year...both their cubs facing an uncertain future...
  • - Bhamera male has made a larger territory and has managed to chase out B2 and Boka out of the chakradhara ,chorbhera , Bhitri,Banbehi, Ghorademon area....
  • - As Chakradhara had cubs from B2..she has since left the fort & chakradhara area and moved her family of 3 cubs out of the Tala range into the buffer zone near the villages...
  • - A younger Jhujhura cub named Choti ( Kankatti) started to establish her territory around chorbhera area and is a fancy of the new bhamera male.....this has resulted in the Chorbhera female moving away to the Tala village...
  • - Mirchaini continues to be in her area around Hardia..and raise her cubs...they are now sub adults...
  • - The once bold B2 has moved away towards the park boundary and is always running away to keep away from the Big male...
  • - Boka has moved away towards the Mahaman side...and is found around the other range...
  • - Kalua the young male from B2 and Mirchaini...was last spotted in Oct ...is since missing...last heard...he was in a territorial fight with Bhamera male and has moved away to towards Panpatta..if not already poached ...

......all this raises a few conclusions....

  • - There is a serious concern around poaching in the other zones which are less monitored and secured..and once a tiger moves in to those zones...you need a lot of luck to see the tiger again....I don't know if we will see Kalua again...his fate is similar to Mallu...hos brother...
  • - Poisoning of tigers over the carcass of a cow or a goat is common on the park boundary....and it's a matter of time when we hear the dreaded news about Chakradhara and her 3 cubs or chorbhera and her 2 cubs....there is also a possibility of human deaths ( 2 have happened already) due to man - animal conflict...I also see a certain behavior traits which get passed on to the cubs ...of cattle picking / feeding and comfort with humans..because of the proximity to humans...and villages...all in all a perfect receipe for a disaster waiting to happen...
  • - With the reduction in mating pairs...how does the park survive and see new off springs...the males are out of the region...the females are either dead or out of the range...how do you ensure new tigers...and a healthy growing population.
  • - Bhamera male wants to take over more of the tala range...he is slowly getting closer to Mirchaini area...the worry would be the Mirchaini litter is of B2...threby raising another set of territorial conflicts...and possible deaths or the family getting moved away from the park boundary.

 

  • 3. Disturbances - I heard and saw myself several disturbances....first the Tiger show ...the return of which has started a frenzy by the elephants to corner the poor souls...with only one Mirchaini litter available in the tala range..they seem to be a target for the elephants every single day...so much so that we saw the elephants chasing them in an open maidan outside the park boundary towards the Manpur village...worse..the tigers picked up a cattle in the village in the night...Also heard a certain TV channel has been chasing these cubs and mother for 2 months..and are likey to do so again in May & June....so much for being around...and showing yourself.

 

  • 4. VIP's - In about 8 - 9 days I was there...5- 6 days were busy with VIP movements...friends of forests officials etc etc...using the elephant, scorpios and gypsys of the department and pretty much criss-crossing the entire forest at will...even the Tiger shows were lined up for these privileged few....

 

  • 5. Leopards & Langurs - There is a sudden drop of Langurs...(and in general the prey base)...however the langur decline is striking....heard from the natives..they have started to spot more leopards around the core zone...also signals reduction of tigers...but whats interesting is they have started to feed on langurs regularly....its important to start counting the prey base.

 

  • 6. Tourists area focus and not tigers - As usual the forest department continues to blame tourists as the reason for them not being able to focus on protecting the tiger...as they seem to be too occupied to manage the tourists....2 thoughts for them...
  • a. Should they not be managing the park ...of which managing wildlife and the tourists are part thereof....they can always have two separate set of people managing the same...this is the big revenue generating park....they can surely afford two teams...
  • b. History proves that with tourists in a range ...poaching is less or negligible, there is high awareness, information and protection is always better....the numbers will second my opinion...poachers understand this well...hence they target non tourist areas more which are not under the dept focus.

 

  • 7. Bhamera Cubs / Jhujhura Cubs - Both these litters face uncertain future....and what concerning is the former is still being kept in an enclosure...and the latter within a smaller enclosure housed in a larger enclosure...still being fed...while the authorities best understand how to introduce them back into the wild...I somehow get the feeling they will end up at Panna national park or Bhopal zoo.

 

  • 8. Fines / park fees - Its quite obvious the Forest department has a revenue target to achieve....they are hell bent on increasing entry tariff...they did so from 630 Rs to 1030 Rs this yar...next year the proposal is to increase that to 2000 Rs...their logic being reduction in tourists will help protect the tiger numbers...again contrary to my views in tourist zones and tiger counts... so much for fines...gypsys were asked to pay for even a minute late...a fine of Rs 500 or face closure of entry for a few days...in the name of discipline...the motives are wrong...nobody wants to check why you got late by a minute...

 

Given the above ...I do have a few suggestions....

  • 1. Get Chorbhera within the park...either in her range and move Choti...or move the family elsewhere...the latter is better as you could save 3 tigers and a few human lives ....you can check the tiger behavior...and ensure no more casualties...
  • 2. Start to manage the remaining 2 zones more strongly...secure them...it cannot happen that a tiger strays into those zones..and right into poachers....the tiger density in Tala zone will throw up more and more pressure on tigers to establish territory outside of the same...hence all the more important to secure the other zones...
  • 3. Stop Tiger Shows.
  • 4. Stop VIP's / Forest & Family preference....they are also citizens like us...then why a preferential treatment.
  • 5. Till the time the reserve recovers we should stop any tiger filming, this is putting too much pressure on the lone family in the range....its needed...only when we have plenty of tigers..and there is distributed focus on all the families...
  • 6. The reserve should get three teams to run the park..one for administration...and one of park conservation and management....and third for border security....this is probably an urgent step now...
  • 7. The eco system of the park is important for all beings within the park...any disruption by us..will have an adverse effect on the balance...a siddababa and chakradhara will have an impact on this balance...hence the department needs to do this with all care...
  • 8. Prey count should be made mandatory...this is part of the balance in the park...atleast in all tiger reserves...
  • 9. The time gap between 2 tiger census is very long, it must be made mandatory for tiger reserves such as Bandhavgarh to do an annual count...this is mandatory...

 

While we can't change the territorial instincts of the tigers changing dynamics in the park....we still need to make the park more secure...for the dynamics to play out fair and square...

I might be over reacting as I do feel strongly for the park..and the forest department may actually have a plan...then why not share the same with us...if not I have raised a Red Flag on this....lets do what every we can to help...Thx.