03rd Apr 2014

A wildlife conservation manifesto for political parties

These were the suggestions sent by me-Bagh to major political parties for inclusion and consideration in their manifesto. I restricted it to wildlife conservation..though was very tempted to include issues...

01st Apr 2014

Missing the Woods for Votes

But why blame the politicians alone for the absence of the 'E word' from election vocabulary? The fault lies with the electorate. The politicians – or even the media – mere­ly reflect the mood and priorities of the public. Elections are the one time that leaders stoop to conquer and echo the concerns of the people, who have failed to realise the costs we and our future generations pay when we cal­lously disregard the environment for immediate ‘gains’. We get the environment we deserve.

25th Mar 2014

Sharks fall prey to human jaws

But the threat to sharks goes much beyond bad press and undeserved infamy. Sharks today are amongst our most threatened species. According to a global analysis carried out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Shark Specialist Group, over a quarter of the world’s sharks (about 500 species) are threatened with extinction. The study revealed that sharks are substantially more than most other groups of animals. Sharks also have the lowest percentage of species considered ‘safe’, with only 23 per cent categorised as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List. The cause for such sharp declines is over-fishing and the demand for shark-fin soup, a delicacy in south-east Asia, particularly China. No less than 100 million sharks are caught every year to cater to the international demand.

01st Feb 2014

Is ‘green’ energy really green?

There are large concentration of wind energy farms in the deserts and grasslands of Kutch and Rajasthan — and a great push for their further expansion. These grasslands, usually dismissed as ‘wastelands’, are throbbing ecosystems, harbouring some of our rarest wildlife, including the critically endangered GIB, lesser floricans, wolves, blackbucks, wild asses and caracals. The Union Ministry of Environment & Forests’ guidelines for GIB recovery programme cites wind turbines as a “major threat to the these low flying birds”, and have strongly advocated that such bustard-unfriendly development be curtailed. In a recent visit to Rajasthan’s Desert National Park, I saw the devastation first hand. Outside the park, the entire landscape is an endless wind farm (in fact, this region has one of the largest such farms in the world). The turbines are lethal for the birds, and along with transmission lines that criss-cross the landscape, allows no safe flyways to the GIBs, Houbara Bustards, vultures and other raptors that this region is known for. Forest staff and researchers working here assert that the GIBs have abandoned areas where wind mills have come up — a fact corroborated by conservationists in Kutch.

13th Jan 2014

Book Review: Tiger Fire

Tiger Fire is a one stop shop on all things tiger. A definite must-have for those who care for, or interested in the tiger—and a hook to those not yet initiated. Reading the book was a fascinating, almost humbling experience. Even for one who devours literature on this big cat—Tiger Fire offered something new. It renewed my acquaintance, left me a little more smitten, even more intrigued. And therein lies the beauty of this beast, who retains its mystery and its magic--which are well reflected in Tiger Fire.

20th Dec 2013

Satkosia: A Silent Sariska

In Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Orissa, the tiger may be locally extinct, or at best, close to it. Worse, rather than make efforts to revive this tigerland, the state seems intent to write the reserve and its tigers off.

08th Dec 2013

Failing our Gods: The slaughter of elephants

If we are to grant elephants the basic right of passage, then it is important that we secure their habitats and corridors. Yet the Government is fighting shy of granting legal cover to elephant habitat. While States like Chhattisgarh and Orissa bowed to industry pressure and backed out of creating elephant reserves which overlapped coal and iron ore deposits that they had committed to, the Centre has surrendered to the coal lobby and is dragging its feet on securing elephant habitat. Currently, elephant reserves and corridors do not have any legal status or protective cover. The National Board for Wildlife has recommended to the MoEF that key wildlife corridors and Elephant reserves be declared as Eco-Sensitive Zones so mega infrastructural and other projects go through the rigour of scrutiny from a wildlife perspective. This was also recommended by the Elephant Task Force, which broadens the protective cover to include ESZs, Conservation or Community Reserves, or extension of existing PAs. They also recommend that railway projects — currently exempt — should be brought under the purview of the Environment Impact Assessment.

24th Nov 2013
Editorial, TigerLink-November 2013

Editorial, TigerLink-November 2013

It’s been a good––and newsy––six months since the last issue of TigerLink. The good news that I would like to start with is that India is on the verge of notifying at least four new tiger reserves: Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, Rajaji in Uttarakhand, Guru Ghasidas in Chhattisgarh and Navegaon-Nagzira in Maharashtra. Some like Mhadei in Goa may also hopefully see the light of day soon, while yet others like Sunebada in Orissa and Suhelwa (UP) unfortunately lie in abeyance…