Vijay Pinjarkar | tnn | Oct 14, 2017, 05:32 IST
Nagpur: Lantana camara, a weed which stops growth of grass and is considered as nuisance for forests, has come as a blessing in disguise for Melghat tribals. They are getting lessons to eke out a living from lantana articles.
Lantana, which is known as 'raimuniya' in local parlance, is considered as a misery for forests as it does not allow indigenous grass species to regenerate. It is spreading fast in Central India and drastically reducing grasses needed for herbivores.
But in a good initiative, Nature Conservation Society, Amravati (NCSA), in collaboration with Satpuda Foundation, has shown the way by converting it into a livelihood option for Melghat tribals. Local tribals have been trained to use lantana to prepare craft and furniture which will help them get employment. The training of first batch of 31 tribals started from October 2, 2017, at NCSA's Muthwa Community Centre with assistance from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)."Lantana has affected fodder availability, thereby contributing to livestock management crisis in Central India. Every year, the forest department eradicates lantana on massive scale and throw it away in the forest. We will make best use of it," said Nishikant Kale, president of NCSA.
Around 31 tribals from Nanduri, Raksha, Bori, Kotha and Chunkhadi villages have been trained to make attractive articles from lantana. "The articles are sturdy and durable. The best part is that villagers don't have to go deep into the forest for lantana," said Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation, and brainchild behind the project.
Farmers Somaji Jamunkar and Bhanu Jamunkar from Chunkhadi in the core of Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) said, "We have 5 acres of agriculture land but our first crop — soyabean and jowar — was washed out during recent rains. The training has raised hopes to earn livelihood by selling lantana furniture."
Similarly, Priya Mawaskar and Neeta Dhande from Nanduri said they don't have to do hard earth work to earn daily wages. "We feel attractive lantana furniture can be good source of employment," they said.NCSA and Satpuda Foundation have roped in Jaisingh Dhurve and Fagulal from Matkuli in Pachamarhi for imparting training to the tribals.
Amravati district collector Abhijit Bangar and field director MS Reddy visited the training sessions and lauded the initiative. They said a plan will be prepared to propagate it on a large scale. "We are working to link Melghat craft to outside market and both the officials have promised support," Kale said.
Rithe said his NGO is working with local communities on the same project in Pench in Maharashtra, as well as Madhya Pradesh and Satpuda Tiger Reserve in Hoshangabad.
Dhurve said lantana craft has provided permanent employment to around 78 families in the Satpuda reserve.
TNN | Updated: Sep 4, 2017, 03:19 IST
Nagpur: In a bid to fight climate change, Satpuda Foundation launched massive plantation drive in the buffer zones of seven tiger reserves of Central India.
"We have planted over 48,000 saplings of indigenous species in the buffer villages during the last two monsoons with the support of thousands of villagers," said Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation (SF), working for tiger conservation.
The SF teams placed at these reserves organized meetings with gram panchayats, schoolchildren and eco-development committees (EDCs) in the buffer villages. The teams motivated and organized villagers across the Satpuda landscape to collect seeds and dig pits so that a plantation drive can be launched soon after the rains.
The teams included Ajay Poddar (Nagpur), Ashfaq Aarbi (Pachamarhi), Prameek Kannan (Tadoba), Ashok Athawale (Melghat), Mukund Dhurve (Navegaon-Nagzira), Amit Awasthi (Kanha) and their community officers.
"We had procured around 30,000 saplings from the social forestry and forest department nurseries as well as Muthwa centre nursery in Melghat last year. Around 10,000 saplings were also procured free of cost from the forest department," Aarbi, conservation officer of SF.
SF had also created three nurseries last year which were used for supplying saplings for replacing the mortality in 2017. The nurseries were having the species like jamun, amla, chironji, sitaphal, mahua, sisam, neem, mango, bel, bamboo and karanj. Schoolchildren and local villagers also participated to collect seeds and grow saplings in these nurseries, he stated further.
The saplings procured were transported and stocked at the SF centres and nearest zilla parishad schools so that it can be planted according to rains and availability of volunteers.
Rithe says the plantation plan was prepared for selected buffer villages of all the above tiger reserves. With the help of local communities and gram panchayats, pre-plantation operations were carried out by shramdaan and also by paying labour charges for digging pits and transporting and distributing saplings.
Around Satpuda reserve buffer more than 15,555 saplings were planted, 7,100 in NNTR, 8,278 in Kanha, 8,070 in TATR, 4,375 in Pench (MP), 3,607 in Pench (Maharashtra) and 1,228 saplings in Melghat.
The SF teams also motivated the local communities for protecting these 48,213 saplings. During winter 2016 the teams were asked to work with the local communities to prepare tree guards for all saplings. In some tiger reserves, villagers used their local skills to prepare biological fencing.
"Our teams planted 27,456 saplings out of which 15,355 saplings survived till June 2017. The teams replaced the mortality and also planted surplus 20,757 saplings till August 2017," said Dhurve, conservation officer at NNTR.
"Presently 36,112 saplings in all the seven plantation sites are in healthy condition," Dhurve said.
Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Updated: Aug 23, 2017, 06:08 AM IST
Nagpur: In a bid to curb flaring man-animal conflict, now the lucrative Dr Shyamaprasad Mukherjee 'Vikas Jan-Van Yojana' will not just be confined to buffer areas of national parks and sanctuaries but in tiger corridors too.
The villages falling in tiger corridor identified by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, will be included. The scheme will also include those villages which have been relocated from the tiger reserves.
The plan envisages reducing the dependence of locals on forests by initiating various steps like distribution of LPGs, mulching cows, making available alternative livelihood and several measures for self and development of villages.
"On priority basis, the scheme will be implemented in Umred-Paoni-Karhandla-Brahmapuri & Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) corridor where man-animal conflict is at its peak," said chief wildlife warden AK Misra.
As per the GR issued on August 4, 2015, till now the scheme was being implemented in buffer villages and those falling within 2km from the boundary of the parks.
However, as per the fresh directives from the government, if the scheme is implemented in tiger corridors, hundreds of villages will benefit and will also help in conservation of corridors and tigers.
In the last two years 2015-17, the target was to implement the scheme in 610 villages around Melghat, Tadoba, Bor, Pench, Sahyadri & Navegaon-Nagzira tiger reserves and Umred-Karhandla & Tipeshwar wildlife sanctuaries. However, only 53% of the target could be achieved by covering 322 villages.
"The department achieved 100% target by distributing LPGs to villages covered which helped curb pressure on forest for fuelwood. Now the focus should be on reducing pressure of grazing on forests," said Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation and member of the state committee on implementing Jan-Van Yojana.
A review of official data on replacement of scrub cattle from Jan-Van villages showed that of the set target of replacing 1,430 cattle in last two years, only 183 cattle could be replaced.
Rithe said, "One of the major reasons for man-animal conflict was grazing in forest, open defecation and collection of firewood. Hence, the committee asked to curb grazing in forests and has set a target to construct 500 toilets in Jan-Van villages, besides distribution of 5,000 LPG connections".
The review found that TATR and Pench followed by NNTR could effectively implement the Jan-Van scheme as Pench offered livelihood to 1,200 locals. Now, all Tiger Conservation Foundations (TCFs) with tiger reserves plan to give loans to locals to procure Gypsys.
"The loan amount will be partially deducted from every safari trip the owner will get," said sources.
Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Updated: Mar 27, 2017, 11.44 AM IST
NAGPUR: In a move that will hit tiger conservation hard, the Ramtek sub-divisional officer (SDO) has allowed fishing rights in Totladoh reservoir, inside Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR), to Wadamba (Rayatwari) village, which is on the fringes of the park. Wildlife experts have slammed the move, claiming Wadamba villagers are only labourers settled there after Totladoh dam construction ended, and do not have any traditional claims on the region.
The SDO's decision has also come in for sharp criticism from the forest department. As reported many times earlier, fishermen from nearby villages already illegally enter the reserve, move through core tiger habitat, and are involved in all sorts of illegal activities like lighting forest fires, attacking patrolling staff with weapons, poaching wild animals etc.
"Allowing fishing rights inside a reserve will hit tigers, whose numbers have started looking up in Pench and its buffer zone," said Kishor Rithe, member, state board for wildlife board (SBWL). According last year's official figures, there are 32-34 tigers in Pench and its buffer zone.
As per the SDO's report, 425 Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) from Wadamba approved community forest rights (CFR) proposal in gram sabha in July 2010 for fishing in Totladoh under Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.
The proposal was submitted to sub-divisional level committee (SDLC) for approval. Of the 425 claimants, 115 are STs while remaining 310 are OTFDs. After several objections, claims, counter-claims and hearings, the SDO agreed that fishermen can be granted CFR in 11 reserve forest compartments, which are currently under water inside the tiger reserve.
However, their rights on forest produce, grazing etc on area surrounding the reservoir were rejected. The SDO's report has been submitted recently to the district collector, who is chairman of district level committee on forest rights.
In a representation to district collector Sachin Kurve, Rithe has pointed out that these villagers were basically labourers, who have continued to stay on in Pench even after Totladoh dam work was completed in 1990.
These villagers had moved the high court against their evacuation by the forest department. In 2002, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court had rejected their claim and directed them to be removed from Pench. These encroachers were resettled at Wadamba by the administration in 2002.
"When these encroachers were denied any fishing rights by the high court in Totladoh, how can the same encroachers get fishing rights in Wadamba. I have urged the collector not to approve CFR inside tiger reserve," Rithe said.
"Even chief wildlife warden Shree Bhagwan opposed the move to grant fishing rights inside reserve. Pench has been declared a critical tiger habitat (CTH) and allowing fishing in a CTH will set a wrong precedent. It is also against SC directives," Pench CCF and field director Rishikesh Ranjan said.
The SDO seems to have also over-ruled the forest department contention that even the Supreme Court order issued on March 5, 1997, does not allow any rights inside the reserve. The villagers argue that the SC order was issued in 1997 and FRA came in 2006, and hence the court order is not applicable.
However, Prafulla Bhamburkar, Central India adviser for Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), countered the villagers' claims by saying that when the irrigation department quarters inside Pench are being vacated to make the tiger reserve inviolate, how can people be allowed inside.
"Moreover, the 11 compartments under water sought by the villagers for fishing have not been denotified yet, and their status continues to be reserve forest," Bhamburkar adds.
TNN | Mar 22, 2017, 06.11 AM IST
Nagpur: On the occasion of World Forestry Day on Tuesday, a book titled 'Hirwa Sangharsh' (Green Fight), penned by wildlife conservationist and Satpuda Foundation president Kishor Rithe, was released at a function held in Mumbai.
Earlier, his book on moods of forests (Ranavanache Moods) had won accolades from all circles. 'Hirwa Sangharsh' has been published by Arun Jakhade of Padmagandha, a well-known publishing firm from Pune. The book was released at the sixth floor of mantralaya by Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mallick, additional chief secretary Praveen Pardeshi and creator of Satyamev Jayate Satyajit Bhatkal. Mallik praised Rithe and said the book would go a long way in conservation of forests. Pardeshi also spoke on the occasion.
Among those present were principal secretary (forests) Vikas Kharge, noted poets Ashok Naigaonkar and Shyam Madhav Dhond,
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) director Deepak Apte, environmentalist Bittu Sahgal, senior government officials and others.
Talking to TOI, Rithe said, 'Hirwa Sangharsh' is an effort to find solutions to forest conservation and how it should be. It motivates people to launch a green fight to save our forests. Call it problems of forested villages or efforts to save forest by way of various schemes, every chapter in the book motivates the reader to launch a green fight to save nature," Rithe said.
The book sheds light on how there is a need to change the political system which is on a spree to ruin forests, water, farmlands and coal. "However, while highlighting problems, an attempt has also been made to find solution to every problem," said Rithe.
Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Updated: Mar 15, 2017, 06.46 AM IST
NAGPUR: The three-day rigorous joint patrolling by forest officials and representatives from different NGOs in tiger reserves and territorial areas has paid off. Not single poaching incident was reported during Holi. Community hunting by tribals on Holi has been a tradition in forest villages. Stringent legal provisions ensured that there were no poaching reports during last three-day when patrolling started.
"Holi patrolling has curbed the practice and it is the result of enforcement. But I think this should become a regular feature around periphery of protected areas, especially foot patrolling," says Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation.
There was a massive deployment of staff, including special tiger protection force (STPF) in Melghat, Pench, Tadoba and Navegaon-Nagzira tiger reserves landscape. Individual NGO members were also a part of the exercise.
There was heavy patrolling in Pench and Mansinghdeo buffer. The areas are vulnerable to poaching by armed men from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. Guards, divisional forest officers (DFOs) and volunteers were part of the drive. The drive entirely focused on the neighbouring state. Barring a couple of forest fires in Nagalwadi range, the exercise passed off peacefully.
However, the drive also called for better coordination between territorial and wildlife officials, especially in tiger-bearing ranges like Khapa and Nagalwadi. A tiger killed at least four cows in last two days in these areas but territorial officials did not deploy camera traps. They took belated cognisance of these incidents.
Territorial patrolling staff admitted that such tiger bearing compartments adjoining wildlife should be handed over to wildlife.
Buoyed by the success, NNTR has extended a 24x7 patrolling module till March 15. "We have formed small STPF groups of 4 individuals which will be accompanied by 2 members of regular staff.
All available vehicles and officers will be part of it," said Ravikiran Govekar, conservator (CF) & field director of NNTR.
TNN | 3 March 2017 - IST
Satpuda Foundation celebrated World Wildlife Day today in Pench Tiger Reserve. Dilip Manjrekar, community officer, organized a classroom lecture for students of Zilla Parishad Upper Primary School, Ghoti and inform students the importance of the day. During the lecture, Dilip informed students that during the 1970s India saw a steep rise in poaching of wildlife which pushed many species on a brink to extinction. It was due to the timely intervention of the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi which helped in carving out Tiger Reserves in India by launching Project Tiger.
Dilip further added that these tiger reserves now harbour a myriad variety of biodiversity of flora and fauna. He informed the kids that now it is our duty as responsible citizens to ensure that these wilderness areas are conserved thus providing undisturbed habitat to various species. It is for this reason that we celebrate this day to remind us of this duty.
TNN | 22 Feb 2017-09.46AM IST
NAGPUR:Nagpur: Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Amravati district will turn 43 on Wednesday. It was one of the 9 tiger projects declared in 1973 in the country and the largest reserve in Maharashtra.
Spread in 2,768.52 sqkm, the reserve boasts of having natural habitat in hilly terrain for over 60 tigers, including cubs. Besides, leopards, number of predators, herbivores, peacocks and birds are in abundance.
Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | 10 Feb 2017-09.30AM IST
NAGPUR:In a move that will spell doom for tigers, the National Board for Wildlife(NBWL), the top decision making body on projects falling in and around protected areas (PAs), has cleared diversion of 160.94 hectare forest area of Wan sanctuary inside Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) for upgradation of metre gauge railway line.
The railways has taken up work on Akola-Khandwa (176km) gauge conversion work between vulnerable Akot-Amlakhurd railway stations under South Central Railway (SCR). It involves diversion of 160.94 ha forest area of Wan and cuts the reserve towards southern tip.
The issue had figured in April 5, 2016 meeting of state board for wildlife (SBWL) in which, owing to opposition from a section of members, it was decided to form a panel to conduct site inspection. The state's chief wildlife warden has already recommended the project with certain mitigation measures.
Of the 176km railway line, over 38km passes through wildlife rich area of tiger reserve and buffer zone. Yet, the upgradation was recommended as there was tremendous pressure from the MoEFCC to clear the project at any cost.
On May 9-10, 2016, a five-member expert panel conducted detailed assessment with regard to feasibility of the project, vis-a-vis tiger dispersal, habitat connectivity for genetic exchange, protection threat at present and after the project impact by NTCA.The project is going to cause permanent damage to wildlife and tigers, that migrate till Muktainagar in Jalgaon and beyond. However, the railways is of view that alternative route will involve felling of thousands of trees and would lead to cost escalation by several times. No mention is made by what amount the cost will escalate.Sources said, when NBWL meeting was held on January 3, environment minister was not ready to listen anything against the project. Hence, the Standing Committee of NBWL recommended it subject to mitigation measures.
On the contrary, ex-member of NBWL Kishor Rithe, who was member of the joint inspection panel, had suggested an alternate alignment in the same report where PCCF (wildlife) had suggested mitigation measures further, if alignment is not possible. Later, Rithe, in his representation to railway minister Suresh Prabhu on June 9, had said that work between Amalakhurd-Akot (77. 5km) passes through hilly part of MTR. "If the railways follow the same alignment and gradient, it will not allow to attain the speed more than 60 kmph and also won't connect maximum villages from Akola-Amravati and Buldhana districts. Considering both the aspects, people in this region as well as MTR administration had demanded diversion of this line through plain area to maximize benefits," said Rithe.
Kishor Rithe, Member of Maharashtra State Wildlife Board and former member of Standing Committee of National Board For Wildlife, welcomed the directives of the court, saying , "Their orders have sent a message among masses that wild animals are not the substance of delicacy and enjoyment. Conservation of lesser known species is equally important," he said. Elaborating its numerous negative impacts on wildlife, Rithe stated that present line passes through core area and has caused deaths of many wild animals and reptiles, especially during monsoon and winter. There are several incidents of using this train route for illegally transporting forest produce and wildlife derivatives from the reserve. Earlier, PK Srivastava, the then GM of SCR, had conducted a detailed inspection of this line on May 29, 2014, and had suggested alternative route from outside sanctuary area. Accordingly, an alternate route bypassing sanctuary was planned but due to political interference the plan was killed. "The change to broad gauge is bound to increase traffic and disturbance in the reserve. This would certainly result in increase in animal kills and increase in trafficking of wildlife," says Pushp Jain, director, EIA Resource and Response Centre.
29 Oct 2016, Mumbai
10 Oct 2016, New Delhi
26 Sep 2016, Nagpur
16 Sep 2016, Mumbai
1 Sep 2016, Nagpur
29 Jul 2016, Nagpur
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21st July 1977 to 09 July 2016
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