#India – Kaziranga National Park in Assam flooded


Flood waters have entered Kaziranga National Park forcing animals to take shelter on highlands and Park authorities are on alert to protect the wildlife from deluge and poachers.

The flood waters have entered Burapahar and Bagori ranges of the world heritage site in upper Assam forcing the animals there to take shelter on high platforms built for them, the park sources said.

They are being given the special food sent by Wildlife Trust of India by the authorities with the help from NGOs.

Some of them were also moving towards the highlands in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district, the sources said.

Altogether 125 boats have been kept ready, they said, adding some of them have already been pressed into service for patrolling.

Besides, 45 domesticated elephants of the forest department and neighbouring areas will be used for the purpose.

Special measures to prevent poaching had also been taken with the personnel in the 150 anti-poaching camps on alert.

The elite Assam Forest Protection Force commandos deployed in the Park have been put on round-the-clock patrolling duty along with forest officers, forest guards and home guards.

Poachers attempt to take advantage of the floods to attack the displaced animals or those coming out of the Park looking for shelter on the highlands, the sources said.

Sign boards have also been put up on NH 37 along the Park for vehicles to control their speed in the area to prevent hitting wild animals crossing over to Karbi Anglong hills across the road, they said.

KNP, the 430 sq km habitat of the one-horn Great Indian Rhinoceros and variety of other fauna and flora, had experienced the worst floods last year when over 500 hog deer and variety of wild animals, including one-horned rhinos, were killed.

Meanwhile, Assam government has directed all the 27 districts to take flood management measures and put in place the emergency response system in view of the rise in the water level of Brahmaputra and its tributaries in Dhemaji, Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts, the sources added

source- ddnews

 

Who will bell the Cat ? #Tribalrights


At the receiving end: Paniyas in Gudalur. Photo: Mari Marcel Thekaekara

MARI MARCEL THEKAEKARA, April 14, 2012, The Hindu

What does one do when a tiger‘s life is apparently more precious than an Adivasi‘s?

On March 30, Kokila, an Adivasi woman, was collecting firewood with a few friends near Kozhikolly village in the Devala area of Gudalur taluk, 50 km below Udhagamandalam, when she was charged by an angry elephant. It hurled her to the ground. Mercifully, I hope, she died instantly. The elephant kicked her around like a football and smashed her into a pulp. An Adivasi who saw the incident said, “It was terrible. She was smashed to pieces, like chamandi actually. We had to collect the bits and put them into a sack. It was a sad and sickening task. We could not prepare her for burial according to our rites. There was no body left.”

A passionate conservationist asked me, “Did they get compensation?” The question angered me. Kokila was a lively, feisty, irrepressible woman. Panichis, women belonging to the Paniya tribe, are independent, proud and they tend to keep to themselves. Kokila was different. She represented her people, even becoming a Panchayat member, really unusual for a Panichi woman. I recall her taking a lead on stage in dramas. She was bold and theatrical, making everyone laugh, dancing infectiously with abandon, urging everyone to join her. How do you compensate the death of such a woman? Of any woman for that matter? Can you replace the person for her family? Her children? Her people?

No one deserves this

Does anyone deserve to die in such a dreadful manner, for absolutely no fault of their own?

I live on the edge of a forest and all my friends and community are passionate about conservation. When elephants break our water tanks, or create havoc for a few days, we accept it philosophically. After all, we are living on their turf, in once-uninhabited terrain. It’s okay to lose a little. For the poorer population, a paddy or banana field gone is their entire livelihood. I shudder when I hear people throwing huge loud firecrackers to chase away the menace. I’m even more distraught when I hear that they throw burning tyres, which will stick on the elephants’ skin, cause terrible pain and is the only thing guaranteed to make the animal move. But I know I’m reacting like a city armchair environmentalist, sitting safe and sound in my solid stone bungalow listening to the screaming and the firecrackers from a comfortable distance while poor people battle for their lives, their livelihoods and their precarious homes.

Collision course

In the last year in the Gudalur area, there have been elephant problems every day, leaving the locals angry and fearful; a really unhealthy lethal combination. Last year, two people were killed around the same time in different locations by two separate elephants. One, a poor Gurkha working as an estate watchman, far away from his northern home. The other, an anonymous youth on a bike.

Even as I mourn the dead victims — collateral damage, wild lifers would say perhaps — I understand the rage of the elephants. Elephant behaviour has drastically changed even in the last two decades I’ve lived here. Every pachyderm has bullet wounds festering and hurting the animal; injuries that have driven the once-docile beasts to regard humans as the enemy. Adivasi elders tell us that they walked among the elephants without fear 50 years ago. Those days are long gone. As I write this, I hear about a child gored by a wild boar outside her balwadi. Luckily, she’s not dead, only badly wounded, recovering in the Gudalur Adivasi Hospital.

My entire family are wildlife enthusiasts; two of my kids were born here. We’ve lived outside the sanctuary for almost 30 years now. I believe sanctuaries must be sacrosanct. I believe we must protect our tigers and our elephants and the less exciting unknown species that co-exist with them. I know all the conservationist theories. We need to move people out. But forest dwelling Adivasis have rights too. And till they choose to move out; they have a right to stay safe. The Forest Department, in order to protect wildlife, should dig those elephant trenches around vulnerable habitations. It’s hard to explain to ordinary people, apart from armchair wildlife enthusiasts, why a tiger’s life is deemed so much more important than our laughing, dancing, full-of-the-joy-of-life Kokila. A tiger’s death mostly makes it to every newspaper in the country; each life is precious, counted, documented by tiger lovers in London and New York. It makes for eye-catching, sexy photographs too. Our Kokila will never make headlines. Perhaps the Coimbatore editions will carry an item: “Tribal woman killed by elephant”.

That’s what ordinary village people find incomprehensible. Sometimes, when I think about it, I do too

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