Sunday, December 16, 2018

Four people arrested on charges of illegally transporting elephant tusks in the district


Mysuru, Dec 16(UNI) In a swift operation police have arrested four people involved in
illegally transporting and trying to sell the elephant tusk near Kanur village in Kollegal taluk.

Police said on Sunday that the arrested were identified as Vije, Kiran, Mahadeva Swmay
and Pradeep. They were caught red handed when they transported and tried to sell the
tusks at H D Kote hand post.

Police have registered a case in this connection and accused have been remanded for judicial
custody by a Magistrate before whom he was produce.

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Heartbreaking! Elephant chokes to death in Karnataka after getting stuck in a fence


In Karnataka's Nagarhole National Park, a wild elephant choked to death on Saturday, while trying to flee from chasing villagers, Hindustan Times reported on Sunday.

In Karnataka’s Nagarhole National Park, a wild elephant choked to death on Saturday, while trying to flee from chasing villagers, Hindustan Times reported on Sunday. The tusker ravaged through Bharthawadi village, in the early hours of Saturday and was running back to the Veeranahosahalli forest when it got stuck in the railway fencing, HT reported.

With a chasing mob behind him, it tried to heave over the fence. While doing so it collapsed under its own weight and crushed its diaphragm and choked to death. This incident added another jumbo to the long list of elephant death in recent times, reported HT.

The railway fences were put up by the Karnataka forest department in 2013, as a measure taken to reduce conflict between animals and villagers. 33 km long railing was erected in the first phase of the project. Railing is to be erected in another 220 km stretch, with a budget of Rs 22 crores has also been sanctioned, HT reported.

KM Narayanaswamy, conservator of forests and field director, Nagarhole National Park, told Hindustan Times that the incident is unfortunate. “We have witnessed the death of an elephant due to railway fencing like this, for the first time.” He further added that “The fencing project has been undertaken to favour the farmers. And this is the first incident where it is seen to be affecting elephants adversely.”

In November, the Supreme Court passed an order to remove spikes and other artificial objects to allow free movement of the elephants. This came after a PIL was filed by author and conservationist Prerna Bindra.

“Elephants move long distances and such artificial barriers at times can have an adverse effect. In Sri Lanka’s Udawalawe National Park elephants starved to death when fencing was put up in the forest,” she told HT.

Project Elephant programme under the ministry of environment, forests and climate change, in their guidelines also mentioned that large-scale fencing is not a solution to human-elephant conflicts prevalent all over the country.

The Nagarhole National Park, where the incident happened, is a part of the largest Asiatic Elephant habitat with around 5,500 elephants, that stretches across multiple national parks across Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. However, official estimates from the forest ministry, around 80 elephant die every year due to accidents or poaching and poisoning.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Odisha: 120 elephants rampage through Mayurbhanj district; destroy houses, crops; Watch Video


In Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, over 120 elephants entered and rampaged villages in Rasgovindpur Forest.
In Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, over 120 elephants entered and rampaged villages in Rasgovindpur Forest. According to an ANI report, the elephants, divided into three or four herds entered from the borders of West Bengal and Jharkhand.

The herd has rampaged through several villages and hundreds of acres of paddy fields.

A local told ANI, “a herd of 120 elephants entered Mayurbhanj district from Jharkhand. The elephants have just not destroyed the agricultural fields, but also homes in many villages that came in their way.” The person has alleged the local Forest Department for not taking proper action and not being active enough. “The department has deployed three men to shoo away the elephants, which is not possible. The higher officials are controlling everything through their phones, while the villagers are perishing,” he added.

To save their crops and homes, villagers often take it on themselves to shoo away the mammals. Many a time, they have often protested against the Forest department, but they have not yet taken any action, the news agency reported.

Earlier this year also, a herd of elephants destroyed a number of houses in the same district of Odisha. Later, another man was killed by an elephant in the Dhenkanal district of the state – which was followed by demonstrations against the Forest department.

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Elephant dies while trying to cross railway fence near Nagarhole


Mysuru, Dec 15: A male elephant trying to cross over the railway fence met with a tragic end in Karnataka's Nagarhole National Park on Saturday.

The 42-year-old wild tusker, was chased away by villagers for attempting to return to the Veerahosahalli range of the national park when it came across the railway fence and attempted to scale it.

Acoording to the reports, the elephant got stuck with the iron made railway fencing and unfortunately couldn't manage to extricate itself from it and lost its life. His body was found dangling between the iron barricades.

The tusker which was around 42 years old had entered human habitation and raided an agricultural field the previous night, the report said, adding that the animal was being chased out of the village, but could not get into forest, over the fence.

An IFS Officer Praveen Kaswan has tweeted and asked the reasons where we are helping these wild animals with making such barricades or is it an attempt to create hurdles for the wild animals. The railway fence is first-of-its-kind in Nagarhole wildlife reserve was built in an attempt to check man-animal conflict, in villages bordering the forests in 2015.

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Annual rejuvenation camp for TN temple elephants begins


The 11th edition of annual rejuvenation camp for temple elephants in Tamil Nadu began at Thekkampatti on the banks of Bhavani River on Friday.

State Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister Sevoor S Ramachandran inaugurated the camp along with forest minister Dindigul Serinivasan and Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani.

Ramachandran said 27 elephants from various temples and mutts had been brought for participation in the 48-day camp, a pet project of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

Adequate medical care will be provided to the elephants at the camp, with special veterinarian teams, he said adding nutritious food with special diet would be given.

Meanwhile, about 40 farmers of surrounding 23 villages attempted to stage a picketing of the road near the venue, opposing the camp at the location, claiming threat to the people and crops by wild elephants which stray into their area in view of the presence of temple jumbos.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

29 temple elephants to attend rejuvenation camp


The annual temple elephant rejuvenation camp is set to begin at Thekkampatti in Mettupalayam from Friday.

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Elephants give sleepless nights to villagers


Vizianagaram: A herd of elephants which came into the villages of Kurupam and Garugubilli mandals in the district are creating a lot of trouble. In the past, a herd of seven elephants had entered into this area from Odisha in September and roamed in these mandals.

Even they had trampled the paddy crops and the farmers are scared to go into their paddy fields. The herd had injured two persons in G.L.Puram Mandal and Komarada Mandals.

Unfortunately, a calf was electrocuted in Artham village of Komarada Mandal. Later, the herd was sent away to some other places by the forest officials. But recently, the group came back again and started roaming in the fully-grown sugar cane and banana orchards, thus destroying them. Now, they have become a threat to farmers who are going to their fields.

The TRANSCO staff is disconnecting the power supply to the villages where the elephants are roaming as a precautionary measures to prevent their electrocution. The villages like Thotapalli, Santhoshapuram Nandivanivalasa and Gowripuram are some of the villages that are facing continuous power cuts for the past three weeks.

As a result, the people are facing lot of difficulties. The farmers who have lands near the roaming area of the elephants are not even able to to go to water their crops. G.Murali, a farmer of Nandivani valasa said, “Last week, our banana crop was damaged by the elephants. They have crushed around 20 trees and I lost around Rs.3000. We are expecting compensation from the government.”

At present, the forest department officials have deployed their staff to this area and they are advising the locals not to disturb those animals by igniting fire crackers and making huge sounds, even using flash lights like mobile phones, cameras.

Dr.D Parinaidu, executive trustee of the Jattu Trust said “The locals are facing trouble with the elephant menace. The farmers dare not to go into their fields as they are scaring with the animals. Even our village is facing frequent power cut with this reason. We are appealing to the concerned officials to solve the problem by diverting them into the forest. “

It has become a comfortable zone for the elephants as they are eating the sugarcane and swimming in water tanks and taking rest under the trees. So, they are reluctant to leave the area.

A senior forest officer said, “We are collecting details from farmers regarding the extent of crop damage and are sending proposals government for compensation. We are trying our level best to protect them from the public, vice versa. Soon, we will send them into the forest.”

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Adult tusker dies of intestinal worms


Erode: An adult tusker was found dead in the reserve forest in the district on Wednesday. Forest officials said the tusker died due to intestinal worms.

The carcass of the elephant was found by forest staff during their routine patrol in Chellampalayam beat of South Bargur reserve forest area near Andhiyur on Wednesday. They informed the senior officials, who visited the spot and conducted inquiries.

Later, an autopsy was performed and it revealed that the elephant died to intestinal infections. The carcass was left behind for other wild animals to feed on, said a forest officer.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

After tiger scare, wild elephants terrorise villagers in Kerala's Kozhikode district


Kozhikode: Barely days after a tiger scare gripped locals residing near the Peruvannamuzhi dam in Kerala's Kozhikode district, a similar situation has emerged from Kakkat in the district. However, this time around, it is wild elephants who have terrorised farmers at Tarippa Mala near Vilangad and Mullabath settlements.

One of the jumbos destroyed the crops of at least four local farmers who were growing pepper, banana and arecanut among other crops, reported Deccan Chronicle. The report goes further to claim that despite an attempt by forest rangers and villagers to drive away the wild mammal, they are not sure whether it retreated back into the forest which has kept locals fearing for their crops and their lives.

Wild elephants terrorise villagers in Kerala's Kozhikode A herd of wild elephants has created havoc for locals in Kerala's Kozhikode district (Representative Image) | Photo Credit: BCCL

Kozhikode: Barely days after a tiger scare gripped locals residing near the Peruvannamuzhi dam in Kerala's Kozhikode district, a similar situation has emerged from Kakkat in the district. However, this time around, it is wild elephants who have terrorised farmers at Tarippa Mala near Vilangad and Mullabath settlements.

One of the jumbos destroyed the crops of at least four local farmers who were growing pepper, banana and arecanut among other crops, reported Deccan Chronicle. The report goes further to claim that despite an attempt by forest rangers and villagers to drive away the wild mammal, they are not sure whether it retreated back into the forest which has kept locals fearing for their crops and their lives.

One of the locals told the publication that it is not just elephants which pose a danger to locals but also wild boars among other animals. He went further to say that that since the farms in the area are isolated and thinly populated, it is difficult to distract the animals and chase them away. A meeting of district forest officials held in October this year was concluded with rangers suggesting the erection of power fencing in the area to deter wild animals. However, the measure has not been implemented as of yet.

Earlier this month, news of a tiger roaming near the Peruvannamuzhi dam in the district spread like wildfire. Terrorised by the presence of a wild carnivore in their area, villagers stopped sending their children to school and most of them even locked themselves inside their homes refusing to report for work.

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PETA seeks inquiry into tusk trimming of an elephant in India


A video clip showing a group of workers trimming an elephant's tusk in Kerala, a southern state in India, has alarmed animal rights groups.

Artisans can be seen cutting, sawing and shaving the animal's tusk, using old and rusted tools. During the entire process, the elephant keeps lying on the ground, frequently gasping.

The video was shot at Thiruvarattukav, near Attingal of Thiruvananthapuram District of Kerala on November 6. Such trimming is done to remove broken or damage part of the tusk, locals said.

The ivory, dust and small pieces could be seen falling on the ground as the tusk is being shaved, while large pieces were being handed over to a security person. It's difficult to ascertain whether the elephant was sedated.

According to 2008 guidelines issued by India's Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), such practices, carried out on the tusk of a captive elephant should be authorized by the Chief Wildlife Warden.

“For cutting or shaping the tusk, a letter should be sent by registered post, including the location where it will be done, and the name of the competent person who would operate, at least one month in advance,” the law states.

Screenshots of the carving carried out on a live elephant were submitted to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In an emailed response to CGTN, the organization demanded a probe into the incident.

“An inquiry must be conducted by the forest department on this matter, where few people are observed to be cutting or carving the tusks of an elephant, as shown in the picture,” PETA statement maintained.

Senior officials pointed out that investigation can reveal whether there was any violation of the animal protection law.

“Various inspections conducted by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and investigations done by PETA India, on captive elephants used for rituals in temples of Southern India like Kerala, Tamil Nadu. Also, those used for joy rides and processions in the states like Rajasthan, Goa,” Peta said.

TRAFFIC, a global wildlife monitoring agency maintained that the practice is not something that would break any international legislation unless any ivory removed during the process was traded across a border.

“However, it is possible, it may be breaking some domestic legislation,” a senior TRAFFIC official told CGTN.

According to Amboseli Trust for Elephants, removing tusk from a living elephant could be painful. “There is a nerve that runs well down the length of an elephant's tusk. Cutting the tusk off would be painful.”

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Railways to introduce sensor technology to check elephant deaths on tracks


New Delhi, Dec 13: In order to reduce the increasing incidents of elephant
deaths on railway tracks, Indian Railway has implemented an innovative
method. The ministry is now looking forward to introducing a sensor built
by a professor at IIT-Delhi to prevent elephant deaths on railway tracks.

Subrat Kar, a professor at IIT-Delhi, was working on a device to curb
elephant deaths due to train accidents since 2008. In 2014, his research
gained momentum when the Indian Railways extended nancial support
and provided him with a grant of Rs 30 lakhs.

The researcher has created a new type of heat-and-motion sensors which
they say can keeps tabs on these animals' movements through their natural
habitats and alert authorities whenever an elephant herd decides to cross a
railway.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

8 jumbos found dead in Theni in 6 months, tusks missing


CHENNAI: Venniyar beat in the Cumbum east forest in Theni district has emerged as the killing fields of wild elephants in Tamil Nadu, going by the death of eight jumbos in the past six months. Five of the elephants were male, and their tusks were found missing - sawed off by poachers.

On Tuesday, a 23-year-old tusker was found dead with its tusks removed.

When contacted, wildlife warden of Theni S Kalanidhi said, “It was an adult animal and its tusks were missing. We are investigating whether the death was due to poaching or the animal died of electrocution and its tusks were removed after its death,” he said.

A postmortem will be conducted on Wednesday.

On Monday, wildlife officials from Kerala came to Theni and secured two persons – Prabhu and Thanga – and recovered a pair of ivory tusks from them. Kalanidhi said it was a joint operation.
Conservationists, requesting anonymity, told TOI that organised poaching gangs were roaming deep inside the Theni forest division, and that there was rampant poaching.

Unlike neighbouring Kerala, where the forest intelligence wing keeps track of wildlife poachers, Tamil Nadu does not have such a mechanism, resulting in wildlife poaching going unreported and unabated, the conservationists said. 

They claimed that the two recent arrests in Theni too happened only due to the efforts and initiatives of intelligence wing officials from the Kerala forest department. Only a fair probe into the elephant deaths in Theni district, effective anti-poaching surveillance and prosecution would deter poachers, they said.

Another conservationist said according to wildlife officials in Theni, high tension power lines passing through the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary were responsible for the deaths. After the issue was taken up by Madurai bench of the Madras HC as suomotu PIL proceedings, supply on the line in the Venniyar area was disconnected. “If that is the case, how did another wild elephant die ‘due to electrocution’,” he said.

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Watch: Elephant rescued from bottom of Indian well


Forest department officials in India said it took about five hours to use heavy machinery to rescue a baby elephant that fell into a well. 

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Elephant tusk seized, six persons arrested by police


Bhubaneswar, Dec 11 (PTI) Odisha Police has seized elephant tusk and arrested six persons for their alleged involvement in wildlife trafficking in Mayurbhanj district, a police officer said Tuesday.

A team of Special Task Force of Crime Branch led by DSP Tejraj Patel raided several hideouts and arrested six accused identified as Agnisar Nayak, Chaianya Nayak, Pratap Nayak, Kesab Dehuri, Gopinath Nayak and Nakula Dehuri Monday night.

The six arrested persons hail from Ambadiha Colony under Udala police limits in Mayurbhanj district.

“During search, a piece of trophy of elephant tusk weighing 500 gm was recovered form the house of Agnisar Nayak,” Patel said.

The STF had earlier arrested four persons after recovering two live pangolins which they were planning to sell off at Ambadhia colony.

Stating that they suspect involvement of an international racket behind the smuggling of wildlife in the state, Patel said the STF would soon identify other accused engaged in the illegal trade.

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A Tusker hit by a train died near Sakleshpur


Hassan, Dec 11(UNI) A 20 year-old Tusker was killed after it was hit by a train at Kakanamane
near Bage in Sakleshpur taluk on late Monday Forest officials said on Tuesday that this is the second such incident in the last seven months.

Two baby elephants died near Yedakumari on June 3.

Locals of Kakanamane near Bage in Sakleshpur taluk spotted the elephant lying near the railway
track. “The tusker was hit on its back. It had suffered internal hemorrhage, leading to its death,”
said DCF Sivaram Babu.

The veterinarians conducted the post-mortem and later the carcass was burnt.

More than 40 elephants, separated in three-four herds, have been roaming in Alur and
Sakleshpur taluks. Recently, villagers of both the taluks staged a seven-day dharna demanding a
permanent solution to end elephant menace. The farmers are worried about damage caused to
their crop by the herds, besides threat to human life.

The Forest Department has decided to book an accident case under the Code of Criminal
Procedure against the loco-pilot after finding out the train which caused the accident and one
more case under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. In the previous case too, the department had
filed the case against the loco-pilot. “The case is ongoing. We will book another case this time,”
the DCF added.

After two baby elephants were killed in June, the Forest Department had talks with Railway
officials on how to avoid such incidents. “We suggested Railway officials to ensure trains move at
low speed when crossing elephant area. Besides this, we have been sharing the information on
the location of elephant herd movement with station masters of the Railway Department,” Mr.
Babu said.
UNI BSP MSP TS1703

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Translocate wild elephants or we will shoot them down: Farmers


Coimbatore: Take measures to curtail the wild elephant menace or we will shoot the animals down, a group of farmers told government officials in no uncertain terms on Monday.

“We want the elephants out of the area. If they can’t be translocated, they should be put down,” a group of farmers, who turned up at the collectorate to attend the grievance meet, said.

“If the forest department can not do it, farmers are willing to shoot the elephants and go to jail,” district secretary of the Tamil Nadu Vivaisagal Sangam P Kandasamy said.

The farmers took the aggressive stance regarding the two wild elephants — Chinna Thambi and Vinayaka — who are raiding farms in the Thadagam Valley. It is the responsibility of the collectorate and the forest department to remove the elephants from the valley, they said.

“It has been two weeks since the forest department promised to translocate the two elephants. They requested us to be patient, stating that they were waiting for a clearance from the principal chief conservator of forests and WWF consultant Ajay Desai’s report. Desai and the principal conservator analysed the situation last week. We want Desai’s report to be released by the forest department, so that we can take the next step,” the union leader said.

The kumki (tamed) elephants deployed at Thadagam to ward off wild elephants have been unsuccessful so far, the protesters said. “Even with the kumkis in their midst, the wild elephants entered the villages. Due to the delay in taking a decision, they will continue to enter the villages and injure, scare or kill someone or destroy something,” Kandasamy said. “A forest department official reportedly threatened to kill the protesting farmers. We are willing to face that threat also."


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Farmer trampled to death


A farmer has been trampled to death by elephants in Ramgarh district, a senior Forest department official said on Tuesday. Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Vijay Shankar Dubey said that a herd of three elephants entered Kulhi village on Monday night and trampled 45-year-old Manilal Mahto. Mahto was sleeping in a hut in his agriculture field to guard tomatoes from theft when the elephants attacked him. As per government provision Rs 30,000 was given to the family members of the deceased, the DFO said. (PTI)

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Raj Mangal, oldest elephant at Chhatbir Zoo, dies at 70


A pall of gloom descended on Chhatbir Zoo following the death of its famous Asiatic elephant, Raj Mangal, here yesterday.

Raj Mangal was 70 years old and the oldest elephant at the zoo. It was brought to Chhatbir Zoo in 1997 and was around 50 years old at that time, said zoo officials.

The officials said Raj Mangal was the only tusker at Chhatbir zoo, bred with Hema, a female elephant, and had two baby elephants, named Seema and Rajveer. They said it was doing fine till two years ago, but due to unpredictable behaviour and health issues, it was kept off display since then and was continuously under veterinary care.

The elephant was suffering from orthopaedic disorders in the hind limbs. Due to weakness, the elephant was not able to stand on its own and a hydraulic crane was being used to give suitable support to the pachyderm for standing and feeding purposes, the officials said. The officials said the elephant’s breathing slowed down at 2.15 am. Even after medical intervention, no improvement was observed in its condition and Raj Mangal was pronounced dead around 9.30 am on Monday.

A panel of three veterinary officers was invited to conduct the postmortem.

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Rescued elephant reunites with herd in Jharkhand


Ramgarh (Jharkhand), Dec 10 (PTI) An elephant, which fell into a 20-feet well at Gosi village in Ramgarh district, was rescued on Monday, a forest officer said.

The pachyderm fell into the well on Sunday night when a herd of elephants raided Gosi village, about 40 km away from Ramgarh district headquarters, the officer said, adding, the elephant also joined its herd once it was rescued.

The rescue operation which started in the morning, ended around noon and an earth-mover machine was used in the exercise, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Vijay Shankar Dubey said.

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Translocate wild elephants or we will shoot them down: Farmers


Coimbatore: Take measures to curtail the wild elephant menace or we will shoot the animals down, a group of farmers told government officials in no uncertain terms on Monday.

“We want the elephants out of the area. If they can’t be translocated, they should be put down,” a group of farmers, who turned up at the collectorate to attend the grievance meet, said.

“If the forest department can not do it, farmers are willing to shoot the elephants and go to jail,” district secretary of the Tamil Nadu Vivaisagal Sangam P Kandasamy said.

The farmers took the aggressive stance regarding the two wild elephants — Chinna Thambi and Vinayaka — who are raiding farms in the Thadagam Valley. It is the responsibility of the collectorate and the forest department to remove the elephants from the valley, they said.

“It has been two weeks since the forest department promised to translocate the two elephants. They requested us to be patient, stating that they were waiting for a clearance from the principal chief conservator of forests and WWF consultant Ajay Desai’s report. Desai and the principal conservator analysed the situation last week. We want Desai’s report to be released by the forest department, so that we can take the next step,” the union leader said.

The kumki (tamed) elephants deployed at Thadagam to ward off wild elephants have been unsuccessful so far, the protesters said. “Even with the kumkis in their midst, the wild elephants entered the villages. Due to the delay in taking a decision, they will continue to enter the villages and injure, scare or kill someone or destroy something,” Kandasamy said. “A forest department official reportedly threatened to kill the protesting farmers. We are willing to face that threat also.”

The farmers took the aggressive stance following media reports of Desai recommending use of kumki elephants and anti poaching watchers to deter Vinayaka and Chinna Thambi rather than translocating them. Both the measures have been on trial for the last one month, but to no avail.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Woman trampled to death by Tusker


Dhenkanal,Dec 10 (UNI) A 43-year old woman was trampled to death today by a tusker in
Kandarsingha village in Dhenkanal district.

In the last two months the tusker had killed two persons and injured one creating panic among
the residents in the area.

On November 16 last the tusker killed one Bauri Sahu of Palasahi and severely injured
Ramakanta Sahu of Damal on November 27.

A herd of elephants, more particularly a lone tusker have created havoc in Mahabiroad forest
range for last several months.The forest department has failed to drive the herd away from
human habitation.

Nirupama BIswal was trampled to death by the tusker while she was returning home after easing
herself.

.At that time of the tragic incident there was no power in the village and the women could not
see the animal in the darkness, the villagers said.

The irate villagers demanding proper protection from the herd blocked the road at near
Bhalumunda chhack .

On receiving the report the Range officer of Mahiroad range Haramohan Pattnaik went to the
spot, pacified the irate villagers and sent the body for post mortem.

He also paid Rs.40000 towards funeral expenses of the deceased and promised to pay another
Rs four lakh as compensation to the victim’s family.
UNI XC- BD KK

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Elephant falls in well in Ramgarh, forest department rescues after five hours long operation


Ramgarh, Dec 10 (UNI) An elephant, who had accidentally fallen inside a well located at Ghosi
village under Ghato Police Station area of this district, was rescued after five hours long efforts
of the forest department here today.

Officials of the forest department said, the elephant had fallen into the 30-feet deep well
yesterday night itself and it was the villagers who alerted the forest department after which
today in the morning a JCB machine was pressed into service through which the staff of the
forest department dug up the ground to create additional space which enabled the animal to
come out who later sped towards the forest.

The villagers said, last night a group of 13 elephants had entered into the area. As they tried to
scare the animals with torch light the elephants attacked them and reached into a potato field
during which one of the elephants fell into the well which had been dough up in the field for
irrigation.
UNI XC-AK AKM

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Human elephant conflict: After trenches and walls fail, 'disco lights' keep jumbos at bay


Bengaluru, Dec 10: At a time when hundreds of kilometres of solar fencing and trenches around the sanctuary area have failed to prevent elephants from raiding human habitations, unique methods like use of disco, LED lights with siren and bio-acoustics are being used by the forest department
to keep elephants at bay.

Farmers and residents have been using a simple device with LED strip lights and AC/DC converter to scare away wild animals such as wild boar, bison, and elephant that attack during night.

LED lights are being utilised to prevent rampaging elephants from destroying farmers crops. The method which was used in Kapilash Range of Dhenkanal Forest Division in 2016 has shown promising results. A total crop area of around 45 acres was covered in which lights were put up at intervals of 60 metres each on bamboo poles at a height of about 8 feet. The lights were placed at the eye level of elephants so that they can see them from a long distance.

Aso Read | Rising jumbo death sets alarm bell ringing in Odisha

Elephants did come to the field where paddy followed by cauliflowers, brinjals, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, and bananas were grown. The big mammals kept waiting at a distance from lights, but did not invade the crop field. Similarly, lights were put up during the mango season from April to June 2016 at an orchard spread over 12 acres at Ganjara village near Hindol Forest Range and 20-acre orchard at Patusahi Kateni village in Dhenkanal district. In line with Odisha, the Kerala forest department has deployed 360-degree rotating party lights in forest fringes to scare off wild elephants from human habitations, and they have clicked. Lights had been successful in keeping successful in keeping stray jumbos at bay in the human-wildlife conflict.

Here are some of other tactics used to tackle elephants Chilli

Elephants don't like chillis. Capsaicin, the chemical in chillis that makes them hot, is an irritant, causing elephants to cough, sneeze and eventually turn away. In 2017, University of Stirling, had carried out the first study assessing the effectiveness of burning exclusively chilli-briquettes - made from dung and chillies - in altering elephant behaviour.

Also Read | Elephant Death: Karnataka mulls shifting jumbo camps from forests

The study found discovered that burning briquettes during the night triggered a change in elephant movement trajectories - turning them from predominantly nocturnal creatures to diurnal.

 Noise 

It is common practice to use loud noise to scare away intrusive elephants. Noisemakers include firecrackers, pipe cannons, vehicle horns, shouts, and rifle-shots. Elephants do grow used to such sounds, especially when the sounds are generated automatically. But loud noise is an effective short-term deterrent against naïve elephants, especially when combined with confrontation by a large group of guards.

Smoke, Fire 

In some areas people burn elephant dung or any other material that will smoulder and create heavy acrid smoke. (Sometimes even tires, but that's not encouraged.) Both the fire and the scent of smoke work as repellents, but wind and weather are a factor, and, as mentioned above, elephants are known to put out small fires.

Guns 

The scare-away gun is nothing but a big look alike of an old artillery gun kept at forts along with a gas cylinder. In 45 seconds it will fire one shot making a deafening sound of enough decibel to scare away the elephants.

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Assam government mulls GPS collars on elephants as early warning system


The government in Assam is considering a proposal to use GPS-tted collars on elephants to study the pattern of their movement, officials said, as the number of casualties in the human-tusker conflict has been rising in the state.

“GPS-tted collars would help map the migration route and locate herds. It will serve as an early warning system,” the state’s principal chief conservator of forests and head of forest force SK Srivastava said.

If all the approvals come through, the Assam forest department will start with a pilot project in Nagaon forest division.

“The idea is to t the collars on ve to six animals and then study the response,” said Suvasish Das, Nagaon’s district forest officer.

Srivastava pointed out that more than 70 humans and 55 elephants have lost their lives so far this year.

Last week, an elephant which had strayed from the herd killed four people including a child in Kheroni in West Karbi Anglong district. On the same day, another man was trampled to death in Udalguri part of the Bodo Territorial Administrative Districts.

Elephants, too, are bearing the brunt as they are often poisoned or die after coming in contact with the
electric fences which have been put by people who are now mostly living in spaces which were earlier elephant habitats or corridors for their movement.

“Electrocution, train hits and poisoning are big reasons,” said Srivastava, adding the number of elephant deaths included those who died of natural causes, too.

Officials of the state forest department said the project will be carried out in consultation with the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and Wildlife Institute of India.

Assam’s forest cover is under severe pressure from the rising population. A study by Indian Institute of Remote Sensing titled Forest Cover Monitoring and Prediction in a Lesser Himalayan Elephant Landscape, published in Current Science in August said 9,007.14 square kilometres of forest may face depletion by 2028 in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The study which monitored forest cover depletion in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh over an area of 42,375 square kilometres of elephant landscape showed continuous high loss of forest cover.

“The total loss in forest cover was estimated to be about 7,590 sq km from 1924 to 2009,” the study said adding that an increasing human population and subsequent demand on the land for cultivation were the major reasons for forest cover depletion.

“It is such a scenario now that both the elephants and the humans are victims,” Assam’s principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) DP Bankhwal said.

“GPS collars will help gather crucial data. Unavailability of data is a problem,” he said adding that it is merely a means and part of the many technological interventions which are being considered but the problem needs to be tackled on the ground.

The forest department is also considering raising an in-house team of mahouts to train elephants which would be used to drive away rogue elephants.

“Mahouts from Assam have been engaged by other states but we do not have a sufficient number ourselves,” said Das.

The 2017 census put the population of elephants in the northeast at 10,139 of which 5,719 are found in Assam.

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Panic as elephant herd raids Somayampalayam village


Coimbatore: While they are struggling to keep two wild elephants off the villages on the Thadagam Valley, a herd of elephants that raided Somayampalayam on Saturday is posing a new challenge to the forest department.

Somayampalayam residents had spotted the herd, consisting of 12 elephants, among the thorny bushes of the village boundary on Friday night. They immediately informed the forest department. A team consisting of anti-poaching watchers (APWs) and rapid response team (RRT) reached the spot, but decided not to disturb the animals as it was too late.

The team began to chase the herd away from the village to the reserve forest on Saturday morning by bursting crackers. But instead of running to the forest, the herd entered the agricultural fields, as villagers from Somayampalayam and surrounding areas watched in disbelief.

The team, led by range officer Suresh, managed to drive the elephants back to the forest around 7pm. “We spent the entire day to chase away the elephants to the reserve forest,” he told TOI.
The department has deployed a team at Somayampalayam to monitor the movement of wild elephants. It has requested the villagers not to venture out of their houses at night.

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Baby elephant rescued from 30-feet deep well in eastern India after straying from herd


A baby elephant that strayed from its herd and fell into a 30-feet deep well in Ramgarh, located in the eastern state of Jharkhand, was rescued after a five-hour long operation.

According to forest department officials, the elephant calf was part of a 13-member herd of elephants. It tumbled into the well the night before when villagers were chasing the herd away with fire torches.

Officials deployed a JCB machine to dig out the well and create a pathway for the baby elephant to make its escape. After being rescued, the baby elephant ran in the direction of the herd inside a nearby forest.

The rescue took place on December 9.

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Tribal man trampled to death by wild elephant


Kannur, Dec 8 (UNI) A tribal man was trampled to death by a wild elephant at Aralam farm near
Iritty on Satruday.

According to Aralam police, the deceased was identified as M Krishnan (48) an Adivasi residing
in the tenth block of Aralam farm, the lone tribal rehabilitation Centre in the State.

The incident occurred around 1400 hrs while he was returning to work place after having lunch.
He died on the spot.
The agitating tribals prevented the police and forest officials from shifting the body demanding
the visit of District Collector or District Forest Officer (DFO) to the spot as this was the second
wild elephant attack at Aralam farm with in a short span of time.

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Panic as elephant herd raids Somayampalayam village


Saturday, December 8 - 1:55 PM India Times Coimbatore: While they are struggling to keep two wild
elephants off the villages on the Thadagam Valley, a herd of elephants that raided Somayampalay

To read the full article, click on the story title.

Big cats changing old routes to avoid human contact


NAINITAL: A new study has found that tigers, leopards and elephants may be changing their traditional corridors within forests to avoid man-animal conflict.
The study by the state forest department funded by the Union ministry of environment and forests found primary evidence that animals may have taken to two new probable passages/corridors near the Corbett tiger reserve (CTR). GS Karki, additional conservator of forests, told TOI, “We have launched the study in 12 corridors in and around CTR. The study is on and there are a few findings in the primary stage, but conclusions can be drawn only after the study is complete.” The study is being conducted in corridors passing through or connecting parts of forest in five forest divisions of western circle of Kumaon, Corbett tiger reserve, Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary and Pilibhit tiger reserve.
The study is aimed at exploring the factors, including human interference in habitat of wild animals as well as various other factors affecting the movement of animals through their natural pathways which happen to be corridors. Parag Madhukar Dhakate, chief executive officer of Haldwani zoo who is heading the study, said, “The study will take at least 12 months to reach to any conclusion. We have found two passages which may or may not be full-fledged corridors yet. We will be tracking the movement of the animals in these passages and other corridors too. Other factors will include closely observing the interference of humans and related activity near these corridors through which we will be able to determine the effects.”
Vipul Maurya, biologist from Wildlife Institute of India, said, “Elephant herds are known to migrate across 350-500 sq km annually. But fragmented landscapes are driving them more frequently into human-dominated areas, giving rise to more man-animal conflicts which also forces the animals to find new routes.”

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Wasim, the giant, arrives to strengthen kumki squad


COIMBATORE: Kumki elephant Wasim from the Mudumalai Elephant Camp has reached the district to intensify the operation to drive away the two wild elephants that have been raiding human habitation on the Thadagam Valley.

The department was using kumkis Vijay and Bommi from the Mudumalai camp and Cheran and John from the Sadivayal Elephant Camp for the last one month to chase away wild elephants Vinayakan and Chinna Thambi. John was sent back to the camp as he was in musth.

Wasim, who is a huge tusker, will replace John, chief conservator of forest (CCF) Deepak Srivastava said. “Vinayakan, who weighs over 4.5tonnes, will be difficult to control. We will use negative conditioning on him. As soon as he is spotted, we will administer a mild dose of tranquillizer to control aggression. The kumkis will then be able to dominate the scene and drive him back to the forest,” he told TOI. “If our efforts fail, we will be forced to take the last option, which is translocating the tusker.”

The decision was taken based on the elephant expert’s opinion, Srivastava said. Elephant expert Ajay Desai, who had been studying the behaviour of the wild tuskers from Monday, had submitted his recommendations to the department on Thursday.

Meanwhile, district forest officer (DFO) D Venkatesh has submitted the report after analyzing the damaged caused by the tuskers in the last one month after the deployment of the kumkis. “More or less, equal amount of damage – both on property and crops – was caused by the tuskers even after the deployment of the kumkis. While the kumki operation has been carried out till the late evenings, the tuskers have been raiding the human habitations between dawn and dusk,” said Venkatesh.

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Ban animals in circuses


The Environment Ministry’s decision to prohibit animals in performances is laudable. It must not get bogged down by critics who do not want the draft rules to become law

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) has done well to issue a draft notification on November 28, 2018, banning the use of all animals in circuses across the country. The draft notification reads, “In the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, under rule 13, the following shall be added — 13A — prohibition on exhibiting and training of animals for specified performances. No animal shall be used for any performances or exhibition at any circus or mobile entertainment facility.” Not only that, it has defined circus as “a large public entertainment, typically presented in one or more very large tents or in an outdoor or indoor arena, featuring exhibitions of pageantry, feats of skill and daring, performing animals, among others.”

The draft notification comes in the wake of a number of developments, including recommendations from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and Central Zoo Authority of India (CZA), which have been entrusted by the MOEF&CC to discharge, on its behalf, important regulatory functions regarding the use of animals in circuses. Besides, under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, the AWBI is the designated authority for registering performing animals throughout the country.

Reports by inspection teams visiting circuses on behalf of the AWBI have, without exception, detailed the horrific treatment that animals undergo during training for life-threatening acts like jumping through rings of fire. They are — sometimes even during performances — beaten with sticks, whipped, poked with sharp metal rods (sometimes rusted). Bull hooks — heavy batons with sharp metal hooks at one end — are used on elephants despite being banned. According to the reports, many of the injuries/deformities reported in animals were attributable to cruelty during training as well as performances. Animals had shown, even after being rescued, the effects of physical and psychological trauma they had undergone during training.

The AWBI has further pointed out that circuses, that rarely communicate their whereabouts to it in time, were extremely hard to track. They repeatedly changed their stock of animals without informing it. Also, animals did not receive basic vaccinations, had no opportunity to exercise, did not receive veterinary treatment and were used for illegal breeding. There have also been reports of animals dying as a result of practices like the use of unsafe methods by their handlers, illegal trading in elephants and tusks — to name a few.

The AWBI has also conveyed to the MOEF&CC that several circuses were operating entirely in violation of rules. At the time of its writing in June 2017, 11 of them were performing without its mandatory permission. These routinely trained and performed with more animals than the numbers registered, used bull-hooks to control and train elephants and make animals perform unnatural tricks that could injure or maim them for life. Citing Article 51A (g) of the Constitution — which lists “compassion for living creature” as a “duty of every citizen of India” — and the law as laid down in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, it stated that the time had come for the Government to stop the use of animals in circuses and make appropriate legislative amendments preventing their use in circuses for all time to come.

The proposed ban comes in the wake of three important steps towards ending the torment inflicted on animals in circuses. The CZA de-registered all circuses using wild animals earlier this year and recommended a complete ban on all animals in circuses. Earlier, in 2013, the use of elephants in circuses had been banned and, in 1998, the Central Government had banned the use of lions, tigers, panthers, monkeys, bears and bulls in circuses.

These steps have come in the midst — and to a significant extent because — of a sustained campaign by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and bodies like People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), People for Animals (PFA) and Asia for Animals coalition. The FIAPO has been particularly active for the past four years through its End Circus Suffering campaign, which has been endorsed by organisations like the Born Free Foundation, Four Paws, Animal Concern, Asia for Animals and more than 200 national organisations.

All these organisations have outlined in detail the circus industry’s horrific treatment of animals. AS PETA points out in “10 Reasons Not to Attend an Animal Circus”, many of them are “bred in captivity and will spend their entire lives in close contact with humans in an unnatural, stressful environment.” The process of training is savage, animals are kept chained and caged, with barely room to even take a step in any direction. While not being trained, they suffer horribly when they are transported from one place to another over days. As PETA’s document cited points out, the tractor trailers in which they are carried are generally cramped, filthy, sweltering and poorly ventilated.

Animals in circuses become despondent and depressed, most develop abnormal behaviour patterns and, denied everything that gives their lives meaning, sometimes run berserk, attacking humans and destroying property and crops. The result is human deaths and, invariably, the death of the animal concerned.

The vested interests, that will be adversely affected by the notification, will try to flood the Ministry with protests during the 30 days which has been prescribed for comments from the stakeholders. The Ministry must not be deterred by such an engineered effort and make the draft a part of the rules. The basic message inherent in the use of animals in circuses is that humankind can capture, enslave, imprison and savagely torture them for their own entertainment, which is unpardonable. Besides, it is not just a question of the treatment of animals. In Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, Charles Patterson writes, “once animal exploitation was institutionalised and accepted as part of the natural order of things, it opened the door to similar ways of treating other human beings, thus paving the way for such atrocities as human slavery and the Holocaust.”

Patterson cites Elizabeth Fisher as holding in Women’s Creation: Sexual Evolution and the Shaping of Society that the violence involved in the subjugation and exploitation of animals paved the way for men’s sexual domination of women. To make the torture and killing of Jews acceptable to the perpetrators, Hitler and Nazis projected them as animals and vermin. This is clearly what explains Theodor Adorno’s profoundly insightful statement, “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”

(The writer is Consultant Editor, The Pioneer, and an author)

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Man-elephant conflict deaths outnumber natural disaster deaths this year


GUWAHATI: Human-elephant conflict has claimed more lives in the state this year than natural disasters or insurgency-linked violence. According to the city-based biodiversity conservation organization Aaranyak, 64 humans and 53 elephants were killed in various parts of the state this year. On the other hand, 53 people died due to drowning and landslides in the three waves of flood that ravaged the state between June and September this year.

“The casualty data of humans and elephants have been collated from each and every incident of conflict that has occurred in different parts of the state. Most of the figures are collated from news reports from the information sourced from the spot of conflict,” Aaranyak secretary general Bibhab Talukdar said.

Talukdar, who is also the chairman of the Asian Rhino Specialist Group and the Asia coordinator of International Rhino Foundation, said the casualty data is a “grim indicator” that things are not going in the right direction. “This is very serious. Sixty four people and 53 elephants killed in less than a year. The casualty figure is more than the loss of life due to natural disaster or any other calamity. It seems that a proactive mitigation system for long-term and short-term conservation is not working,” Talukdar said.

Conceding that human-elephant conflict is taking a serious turn in the state, forest minister Parimal Suklyabaidya has instructed the forest department to identify conflict-prone areas and set up control rooms equipped with adequate manpower and equipment to come to rescue of humans and jumbos at short notice.

“There is a need for a long-term solution by taking measures so that elephants do not come out of their habitats and enter human settlements in search of food. For the short-term, we have to ensure that our personnel respond promptly to such conflict situations. That is why I have asked for well-equipped control rooms in conflict-prone areas,” Suklabaidya said.

Forest department officials said control rooms with rapid response teams will be set up at twelve divisions with immediate effect. Every control room shall have an advisory committee with representatives of local organisations. The gap of manpower in human-elephant conflict-affected districts will be filled up immediately by transferring staff from other divisions. The office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forestry Force (PCCF & HoFF) will look into the matter, they said.

Elephant conservationists said destruction of corridors used by elephants and their habitats because of various developmental activities has aggravated the conflict. In the last one-and-half years, at least 15 elephants were killed in collisions with moving trains in different parts of the state. It has been found that the majority of the casualties happened outside the identified corridors used by elephants to cross the railway tracks, a stark indication that jumbos are not following the paths they used to earlier.

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Bruised, starved and sick: The sorry state of captive elephants in India


Many years ago, we got a report that Lakshmi, a temple elephant in Davanagere (Karnataka), had suddenly died. We went to conduct a post-mortem,” says Manoj Kumar, a senior official at the Karnataka Forest Department who oversaw the Project Elephant program in the state till July 2018. “It was tragic to find out that Lakshmi died due to constipation. It was festival season and they had fed her only coconuts and bananas.”

Lakshmi’s death is only one among many such elephant deaths in India. While concerted efforts are made to protect India’s wild elephants, little is done to oversee the well-being of captive elephants who routinely die of tuberculosis, foot abscess, malnutrition, and countless other preventable illnesses. In May 2018, UK-based Action for Elephants described Kerala as ‘ground zero for elephant torture’.

There is no government data on deaths of captive elephants. Suparna Ganguly of Compassion Unlimited Plus Action says that 73 captive elephants have died in Kerala since 2016; at least five died in Tamil Nadu this year.

Tortured lives

“A captive elephant faces both physical and mental abuse,” says GR Govind, founder of Gaja Raksha, an organisation that works for the well-being of captive elephants. “Their feet become septic, life-threatening sores develop on their backs and hips when they are made to carry heavy loads frequently,” he says.

An elephant is meant to walk at least 30 kms a day and hence they are constantly bobbling even when stationary. Many temples and institutions cannot afford to give the elephants a nutritious, wholesome diet. They are also highly intelligent, social animals and captive isolation takes a heavy toll on their mental health, resulting in stereotypy.

According to government data, there are about 3,500 elephants in captivity in India: in forest camps, private ownership, travel and tourism, zoos and temples. While the conditions in forest camps are in most cases good, it is in temples and in tourism that elephants suffer the most.

Complex animals

“Elephants are complex animals and have so many requirements at multiple levels that it is not possible for humans to fulfil all of them,” says Ganguly. “For example, in the forests they eat so many different kinds of food and that helps them retain their colour. But most captive elephants will have a white pigmentation on their trunks,” she adds.

Releasing all captive elephants into the wild is not an option, however. “Most captive elephants will not be able to survive in the wild after a certain age, that is why we’re trying to focus on providing them good conditions and keep them in semi-captivity,” says Subhash Malkhede, additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Karnataka forest department. “We have initiated training camps for mahouts and have issued guidelines for the proper upkeep of captive elephants.”

Individuals like GR Govind have also taken the initiative to work with captive elephants and their mahouts. “We try to do the best we can in the given conditions. I have noticed that many temple authorities are also responsive and try to create better conditions for animals,” he says. From simple measures such as sheathing the elephant’s chains with rubber, creating larger enclosures, especially during the bull elephant’s increased hormonal level , their captive conditions are improved.

Corrective measures

Apart from Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960, many state guidelines exist for the welfare of captive elephants. “The problem is with implementation and there is also a lot of collusion between owners and local politicians, who are more concerned with profiting from the animal than their proper upkeep,” says Ganguly.

In November, the Supreme Court directed the Animal Welfare Board of India to conduct a survey across the country to ascertain the number of elephants in captivity and their conditions.

More often than not, captive elephants such as Lakshmi either live a tortured life or succumb to their circumstances. As GR Govind says, “At the end of the day, we want a change in attitude. Of course, there shouldn’t be any more captives but owners must realise that what they are doing is wrong, not because I or anyone else thinks it is wrong.”

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Jaldapara National Park is Where You Can Spot The Elusive One-Horned Rhino


Jaldapara National Park is situated at the foothills of Eastern Himalayas, in a district called Alipurduar in West Bengal. It is one of the best places in the country to spot one-horned rhinos. These elusive beauties are found in few other national parks today; Kaziranga and Pobitara in Assam and in protected areas in the Terai of Nepal Jaldapara has been home to this wonderful species for a long time now – the vast grassland being ideal as the Rhino’s natural habitat.

Today, they’re listed as a vulnerable species, whereas once the large mammal ranged in large numbers through the entire stretch of the Indo-Gangetic plain. However, excessive hunting has caused them to go down in number. Today, about 3,000 rhinos live in the wild, 2,000 of which are found in the Northeast alone.

A great way to enjoy in Jaldapara National Park is by taking an elephant safari that is organised early morning from Hollong to offer the exquisite beauty of the vast grassland . The elephant ride is also the best possible way to spot rare species such as the Indian rhinos and Asiatic elephants. You can also opt for the jeep safari inside the sanctuary for a complete experience.

The forest is mainly savannah covered with tall elephant grasses, and looks gorgeous with the river Torsa flowing languidly through it. It is home to a great variety of fauna other than the rhino such as Royal Bengal Tigers, wild elephants, deers, swamp deers, hog deers, wild pigs, and bisons. Some rare species like the hispid hare and the hog-badger are also found here.

While taking leisurely strolls through the towering grass here, you can also spot some great varieties of birds. It is one of the very few places in India, where the Bengal Florican is seen. Other birds to be found here are the Crested Eagle, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, Jungle Fowl, Bengal Florican and the Pied Hornbill.

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Farmers pin hopes on forest department


The district forest department has only three more days to keep its assurance given to the farmers to translocate the wild elephants – Vinayakan and Chinna Thambi – before December 9. The department gave the assurance during a meeting held on Sunday.

With the forest department yet to take a final call on the issue, uncertainty prevails over the fate of the wild elephants even as farmers and animal activists root for their translocation.

M Mahalakshmi, a farmer, said three acres of her farmland remain idle for the past one-and-half years because of the fear of wild elephant raid.

“The elephant movement into human habitats has become frequent in the past two years and there is not a single place in Periyanaickenpalayam, especially Thadagam Valley, without the footprints of elephants. As the elephants started raiding crops daily, over 100 acres of land were left uncultivated,” Mahalakshmi said.

General secretary of Vivasaigal Sangam P Kandasamy said no longer we could bear the elephant menace and we want the officials to translocate the wild elephants before December 9.

“The forest department has tried all the possible ways to curb the elephant menace, but nothing worked out. The only option now left is to translocate the tuskers,” he said. “The department even tried driving away the wild elephants using three kumkis for the past one month,” he pointed out.

Wildlife activist Mac Mohan said, “There is no harm in translocating one problematic elephant for the welfare of the farmers. It is the responsibility of the forest department to identify whether the elephants are actually problematic or not.”

He said it is important to ensure that locals do not start hating wildlife because of the elephant menace. Without the support of locals, it is impossible to conserve the wildlife, he added President of Osai, an NGO, S Kalidasan said there are three elephants and a calf moving in the region and it is important to identify which is the problematic elephant before translocating them. It is also important to monitor the movement of elephants after they are translocated, he added. The wild elephants had been entering human habitations frequently ever since August and damaging crops. Since August, the death toll due to human-animal conflict has gone up to six in the region. As the department continuous to be cautious so as not to taste another bitter experience, the farmers are clinging on to the last piece of hope that they have on the forest department.

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Experts rule out translocating wild elephants


An expert team led Ajay Desai, a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund
and member of Asian elephants specialist group of International Union for
Conservation of Nature, has suggested against translocating wild
elephants – Vinayakan and Chinna Thambi – from the Thadagam Valley.

The team has been camping near the valley since Monday and studying
the movements of both the wild elephants.

The team has also opined that the use of kumkhi elephants to chase both
the wild elephants into forest would be ineffective. It cited the weight of
the wild elephants higher than the kumkhis brought in to chase them into
forest. The final report of the team will be submitted to the forest department on Friday.

“Translocating Vinyakan and Chinna Thambi is not a solution to solve the current problem in Thadagam Valley,” said a source in the team.

“Even if the wild elephants are translocated, other elephants who migrate to the region would continue entering human habitations. There is no study conducted in Tamil Nadu to know the success rate of translocation of elephants,” the source said.

For the past few months, Vinayakan and Chinna Thambi have been entering human habitations and raiding farmlands in Thadagam Valley. Six people, including a forest staff, had died since the conflict began.

While farmers have been demanding the forest department to translocate the wild elephants, the department has roped in Ajay Desai to recommend solution for the problem.

To solve the human-elephant conflict permanently, a detailed study should be conducted to understand what drives the elephants out of forest, the source said.

There might be several reasons, including loss of elephant habitat inside the forest and encroachment on elephant corridors, for the elephants to enter human habitations.

“Physical barriers like elephant-proof trenches (EPT) and fencing should be strengthened to prevent elephants entering the human habitations,” the source added.

In the past nine years, the elephants in the region did not migrate to other locations. Over a period, they have shrunk their home range between Marudhamalai and Palamalai. “One of the reasons might be because of the easy availability of food and water throughout the year at the farmlands,” the source said. Elephants, in general, migrate based on the availability of food and water.

An official from the forest department said, “Though Chinna Thambi reacts whenever we try to chase them away with kumkhis, Vinayakan continues to ignore the kumkhis as it is bigger than them in size. Even in its musth period, Vinayakan neither searches for a partner nor mingles with herds.”

“While Chinna Thambi is over 3.8 tonnes, Vinayakan is over 4.5 tonnes. Since the kumkhis are not bigger than the tuskers, it is difficult for them to drive away. Only upon deploying jumbo kumkhis along with experienced mahouts, the tuskers could be chased into forest. This is also a temporary solution only,” an expert said.

Meanwhile, CCF of Coimbatore circle Deepak Srivastava said a final decision would be taken only after the recommendations were submitted by the expert team.

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Preparations on for temple elephant camp; farmers seek change of venue


COIMBATORE: The rejuvenation camp for temple elephants from across
the state is likely to begin on the banks of Bhavani river at Thekkampattti
in the district this month amidst protests from farmers in the area, demanding change of venue.

Over the past few days, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments
(HR&CE) department officials have been readying the area on the banks
of Bhavani river for the camp. While work on erecting cooking area and
accommodation for mahouts is underway, bathing area for elephants has already been set up.

HR&CE officials said they had received orders for getting the area ready
and were working on it. “The date for the camp is not confirmed yet. It
might be held within this month,” an officer, who didn’t want to be named, said.

Meanwhile, farmers from Thekkampatti and surrounding areas have raised concerns about the camp being held in the area.

Members of the Thekkampatti 23 Village Farmers’ Coordinating Committee said they have filed a writ petition against the camp’s location. T Pandurangan, president of the committee, said they had filed the writ on November 28.

Pandurangan said after the camp was shifted from Nilgiris to Thekkampatti in 2013, the frequency of wild elephants straying into surrounding villages has gone up. “Many people have lost their lives due to this. Also, elephant are raiding our farmlands, damaging crops,” he said.

He said the Bhavani river at Thekkampatti was the starting point of several potable water schemes to areas such as Mettupalayam, Tondamuthur, Vadavalli and Karamadai. “As the camp is conducted here, the water gets polluted due to the waste generated from the camp,” he said.

Members of the farmers’ group said the camp was likely to begin on December 14. “So, we have decided to hoist black flags in our houses from Friday. On the inaugural day of the camp, we have decided to conduct a protest in front of the camp site,” Pandurangan said.

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After days of search operation, elephant Ashoka traced deep inside forest


MYSURU: The elephant Ashoka, which went missing on November 30,
has been traced by the foresters on Wednesday night.

The jumbo was found deep inside the jungle in Kaimara forest beat range
of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. Ashoka has now been housed in Balle elephant camp.

According to forest officers, the Mathigodu camp elephant was let out in
the forest for grazing on November 30, but did not return to the camp.

After waiting for a day, a team of officers along with mahouts and kavadis
launched a search operation to trace the missing tusker deep in the jungle
based on the marks created by chains which were tied to the elephant’s legs.

As they could not trace the elephant and suspected that it might have travelled quite a distance into the forest in search of fodder, the foresters summoned Dasara elephants Abhimanyu and Krishna to trace the missing jumbo.

After searching for nearly six days, the foresters finally claimed that they managed to trace the elephant on Wednesday evening.

“The elephant was traced deep inside the Kaimara forest beat under the jurisdiction of DB Kuppe Forest Range. We have brought the elephant back to the camp,” an officer said.

Doubts raised

While foresters claim that the elephant went missing from the camp, sources in the forest department said the elephant went missing since November 26 when Ashoka and Drona ran helter-skelter after fire crackers were burst during a tiger combing operation at Penjahalli village in HD Kote, on the fringes of Nagarahole Tiger Reserve.

While foresters had claimed that they managed to trace the panicked Ashoka at Kothanahalli village near Taraka Dam and

Drona near Hirehalli A Colony, sources said the foresters could trace only Drona, while Ashoka was missing since that day.

However, foresters have heaved a sigh of relief after tracing the elephant. DB Kuppe RFO Subramanya said Ashoka has been brought to Balle camp. Senior officers will decide whether the elephant will be used for the tiger combing operation at Penjahalli village or it will be sent back to Mathigodu camp.

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Animal welfare should be protected


The Government of India has proposed prohibition on the use of animals for performances, exhibition at any circus or mobile entertainment facilities, a move hailed by animal rights activists as ‘progressive and laudable’.

The Environment Ministry, in a draft notification dated 28th November, has invited comments from various stakeholders on the issue within 30 days. The draft also defined circus as means of a large pubic entertainment, typically presented in one or more very large tents or in an outdoor or indoor arena, featuring exhibitions of pageantry, feats of skill and daring, performing animals, among others.

The deplorable condition of horses, dogs, exotic species of parrots, elephants and hippopotamus in all circuses over many years is well known to us. The Central Zoo Authority withdrew recognition for use of all elephants in circuses. No other Indian wild animal was allowed to be used anyway.

However, hippos, macaws, cockatoos, which are exotic wild species were being smuggled in for unnatural performances in circuses, despite CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - restrictions. The Animal Welfare Board of India also took note of the cruelty and de-recognised most circuses, but the implementation was a challenge in the absence of a clear cut and comprehensive order. Intelligent and sensitive animals are not ours to enslave and torment in animal-exploiting circuses for our amusement.

A ban on the use of animals in circuses would bring our country in line with other countries that have already made this move and show the world that we are a progressive, compassionate nation that does not tolerate animal abuse. (One might always ask, whether this should not be case of human beings also here!).

In their natural homes, animals spend much of their time roaming, searching for food, taking care of their young and spending time with members of their families. In the circus, they are denied all of this. Instead of being allowed to move freely, they are kept chained and caged for most of the day and night.

Their only exercise comes during training sessions and performances, when they are intimidated into doing acts that are meaningless and unnatural to them. Enough proof is available about the cruelty being meted out to them by the circus managements. There would always be people who cling to their nostalgic value citing circus as their childhood dream show.

But, let us realise that it is tantamount to cruelty and it has to go. If confining animals in crammed places, chained and training them to unnatural acts is not cruelty, then nothing is. Now, it must leave own and leave the animals alone. There are other issues too here. Whether this ban would mean no joyrides on elephants and camels in places like Rajasthan? Strong voices have been opposing elephants for temple rituals too. What happens now? How about Mysuru Dasara festival animals? Every year we witness litigation over cock fights in coastal AP and the bull race in Tamil Nadu. Will tradition be exempted? Modernism is bound to clash with such traditions once again in this country to the detriment of animal welfare. Alas!

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Individual profiling of elephants to be done


To create a database of wild elephants that frequently enter human habitations, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has recommended individual profiling of such elephants.

Apart from helping in easy identification and monitoring of an individual elephant, the profiling will help the Forest Department keep a record of its behaviour pattern and movement in a given forest area.

“WWF has already given training to the frontline staff of the Department in four forest ranges in Coimbatore division -- Periyanaickenpalayam, Karamadai, Mettupalayam and Sirumugai. The staff are trained to record peculiar identification features of an individual elephant for the profiling. Training for the staff in other forest ranges will be held soon,” said D. Boominathan, landscape coordinator of WWF-India.

Forest guards, forest watchers, anti-poaching watchers and members of the rapid response team were trained to document individual elephants.

Profiling of an elephant will include details such as its approximate height, age, gender, shape of tusks (in case of a male elephant), shape of tail, pattern of ears and any unique identification mark.

“A sample profiling done for tusker Vinayagan has included the unique pattern of the brush of its tail which itself will help identify the individual animal. The pattern of the elephant's tusks are also unique as they are uneven. It has also got a tear in one of its ears,” said Mr. Boominathan.

The profiling in first stage will involve documenting the unique features of elephants and giving them names like 'E1' (for elephant 1) and 'M1' (for makhna 1). In the second stage, photos of the individual elephants including views from the front, sides, back and photos of the unique identification marks will be added to the profiling.

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Guidelines issued to prevent deaths of elephants


Madurai: S Kalanithi, Megamalai wildlife division’s warden and officer-in-charge of Venniyar reserve forest near Cumbum, Theni district, on Thursday, submitted a report before the Madurai bench of the Madras high court stating that efforts were under way to alter the electric lines in the forests to prevent electrocution of elephants in future. The bench had earlier taken suo motu cognizance of a newspaper report on the electrocution of five elephants at the same spot in the Vanniyar reserve forest near Cumbum range and issued directions to the authorities to change the low-lying electric wires in the reserve forest. An elephant and her calf was electrocuted on June 19 this year and on September 4, a nine-year-old elephant was electrocuted. On November 24, two elephants were found dead at the same spot and the cause of death was said to be electrocution, the report stated. On Thursday, Kalanithi submitted the report stating that they have suggested guidelines issued by the National Board of wildlife to Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation Limited (TANTRANSCO) to prevent electrocution death of elephants. According to the guidelines, the height at the lowest point of wires of power lines passing through all natural areas with known presence or movement of elephants shall be a minimum of 20 feet (6.6 meters) above ground on level terrain and a minimum of 30 feet (9.1 meter) above ground on steeper terrain. In between towers 47 and 48 crossing through Venniar reserve forest, the high voltage lines are very low lying (7-10 feet) for more than 50 meters, warden stated and submitted that an additional tower may be erected or the existing tower height shall be increased to increase the ground clearance to above 20 feet.

Until rectification of the low lying electric high tension lines, temporary discontinuation of electric supply was suggested and the same was accepted by TANTRANSCO.

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

PETA Founder Ingrid Newkirk Demands Ban on Elephant Rides


"My heart breaks into thousand pieces seeing these poor elephants being beaten and
forced to give a ride at Amber Fort," says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
(PETA) President and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk who was in Jaipur on Wednesday ahead of
Animal Rights Day, December 10. Ingrid and her two companions sat outside Jaipur's historic
monument, Albert Hall on a road show holding placards written, 'End Elephant Slavery in 2019'
and "Ban Elephant Rides". Two of them wore elephant masks, had put on chains and shackles and
painted their palms blood-red as a token of protest.

Captive elephants giving tourist rides at the Amber Fort, situated on the outskirts of the City are a usual sight but that the animals being hit, jabbed, and manhandled mostly go unnoticed. Newkirk said that last time when she visited Hathi Gaon (Elephant village) of Jaipur secretly, she saw the elephants being beaten with a stick and kept chained in a miserable condition. "The trainers torture the animals using bullhooks or ankush to make them obey–-- a way to break their spirit," she said. When the elephant caretakers came to know that she was there they tried to hide sticks in the bushes and acted as if they were taking good care of the animal, she said.

The country awakened to the plight of the elephants after Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, on behalf of PETA India, wrote an open letter to Rajasthan’s Forest and Environment Minister seeking to relocate the elephant with the registration number 44. A video shot by an American tourist, which went viral, showed eight men violently beating an elephant at Amber Fort and forcing it to give rides.

Airing her dismay with the treatment of elephants of Amber Newkirk said that government could look for other means of earning money and people could go to the fort and enjoy the architecture rather than looking forward to the elephant ride. " It is high time that the animals are sent back to sanctuaries where they can stay with their kind and live freely without chain and fear. It is time that over 100 of them, working at Amber Fort, are freed. In the name of tourist attraction and heritage, they have been made to suffer for long. They have been beaten into submission. I am trying to go to court and help elephant Number 44," Ingrid asserted.

Though a police complaint has been filed in the case of Elephant 44 and a show-cause notice has been issued to its custodian, Wasid Khan till now the pachyderm has not been tracked. It is being pointed out that with the plea of ongoing Assembly elections in Rajasthan the animal is kept hidden somewhere. On her part Ingrid, even after much effort, could not yet meet the concerned authorities or the police officials regarding this matter.

The change is inevitable says the PETA co-founder. "The largest travel site in the world including Expedia and more than a hundred travel companies and travel-book publishers ended promotions of captive-elephant attractions after seeing the eyewitness footage that went viral recently. They have stopped supporting outfits with sordid histories,” she said. "The government cannot remain blindfolded for long," she added.

Hitting on melas or animal fairs like 'Pushkar Fair', Newkirk said that she felt bad seeing such fairs being organised and government supporting them, “From the fairground, the animals are transported to far away states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and also overseas,” she noted.

Raising the momentum against the elephant ride, Newkirk recently met Union Minister of State for Tourism, K.J. Alphonse. Alphonse has reportedly issued a letter to the Tourism Secretaries of the states regarding the concerns of cruelty to elephants used in tourism destinations.

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Man out to relieve himself trampled to death by elephants in ODF Jharkhand


A 61-year-old man was trampled to death by a herd of elephants on Thursday morning when he went out of his house to relieve himself in a village declared open defecation free (ODF) in Jharkhand’s Jamtara district.

The man identified as Rustam Ansari, a farmer in Narayanpur block’s Nurgi village, was reportedly suffered from a hearing problem. The village is around 230km east of state capital Ranchi.

Forest ranger officer of Narayanpur Arun Kumar Singh said the incident took place around 6.30am when he went to relieve himself in a farm, hardly 50 meters from his home.

Singh said the herd of 18 elephants, including four calves, has come from Tundi in Dhanbad district and entered the village on Wednesday night.

“Our team drove away the herd from the village post midnight. However, they returned to the village again in the morning and killed the old man while he was relieving himself,” Singh said.

After a protest by the villagers, the forest department handed over a cheque of Rs 25,000 to Ansari’s family and assured them they will give the compensation amount of Rs 4 lakh soon.

The incident has exposed the government’s claim of making Jharkhand an open defecation free (ODF) state. Chief minister Raghubar Das on November 15 declared rural Jharkhand ODF.

The government claimed that over 33 lakh individual toilets were constructed in rural Jharkhand in the past four years. In rural Jamtara, over 96,000 toilets were built during the period to achieve the ODF tag.

Villagers said even though toilets were built in the village a majority of residents still practice open defecation.

“Toilets are there in our houses. But, we are practising open defecation for several decades. How can we change the habit immediately?” Haroon Rafique, a villager, asked.

Ruksana Biwi, another resident of the village, said the toilet was very small, which causes difficulties.

Officials termed it lack of awareness and Narayanpur’s block development officer (BDO) Maheswari Yadav said there is a “100% toilet coverage” in the village.

“We came to know some people of the village still practising open defecation due to unawareness. We will soon launch an awareness programme in the village to ensure 100% toilet usage,” Yadav said.

There are 149 families comprising a population of 835 people in Nurgi village, according to the 2011 Census.

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Elephants kill man in Jharkhand


Ranchi: A man was trampled to death by a herd of elephants in Jharkhands Jamtara district on Thursday.

According to police, a herd of 22 elephants reached Nurgi village from Dhanbad district. The victim, Rustam Mia, had gone to answer nature’s call.

The elephants chased him and trampled him to death. The forest department officials reached the spot and took the body.

The man’s family was given a cheque of Rs 25,000 on Thursday.

The Jharkhand government gives Rs 1 lakh compensation to people killed by elephants. Of this, Rs 25,000 is handed over instantly and the rest is given after completion of official formalities.

In Jharkhand, more than 800 people have been trampled to death by elephants since 2000.

–IANS

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Wildlife board says ‘yes’ to Kanhargaon sanctuary


Nagpur: The Maharashtra State Board for Wildlife (MSBW) on Wednesday in-principle approved to declare Kanhargaon in Gondpipri tehsil of Chandrapur district a wildlife sanctuary.
The decision was taken at the 14th board meeting chaired by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, top officials and members were also present.

The issue, which was not on the agenda, was raised by members Anish Andheria of Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) and Satpuda Foundation’s Kishor Rithe during a presentation by WII’s Bilal Habib on man-animal conflict and mitigation measures in the backdrop of killing of tigress T1.

Fadnavis called for separate policy to curb man-animal conflict and asked to constitute a committee for the same. He also said to boost ecotourism in six tiger reserves, a fresh proposal should be worked out and a proposal be sent to NTCA to continue ecotourism even during monsoon. He called for separate elephant squads in tiger reserves to control conflict around the reserves.

Declaring Kanhargaon a sanctuary is a four-year-old proposal that was hanging fire owing to political differences and opposition from FDCM, which has large-scale logging operations here.

However, the move seems to have been taken considering the flared-up man-animal conflict with tigers crying for space. As per the survey conducted by WCT in 2015, there are 10 tigers and 23 leopards in Kanhargaon.

“The lush green forest of Kanhargaon forms key southern corridor for spill over tiger population moving to Kawal tiger reserve in Telangana and Indravati reserve in Chhattisgarh through Chaprala and Pranhita in Gadchiroli,” says Uday Patel, honorary wildlife warden of Gadchiroli.

Talking to TOI, PCCF (wildlife) AK Misra, who is also member-secretary of the board, said, “The 210sqkm sanctuary proposal will need technical formalities to be completed before a final notification is to be issued. The board also decided to expand Umred-Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary and Bor Tiger Reserve by relocating three villages each from these PAs. These villages themselves are keen on getting shifted.”

Earlier proposal for Kanhargaon was for over 400 sqkm. It was curtailed to 265 sqkm following opposition and now it has been brought down to 210sqkm keeping all villages, except Kanhargaon, out.

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Large-scale mining goes on unchecked in Thadagam valley


Some of the pits close to the forest boundary near Mangarai are nearly 50 ft to 60 ft deep

Large-scale mining of red earth for brick kilns in Thadagam valley remains unchecked and deep pits have formed close to forest boundaries. Some of the pits close to the forest boundary near Mangarai are nearly 50 ft to 60 ft deep.

A visit by The Hindu to Mangarai also found that red earth has been dug from the base of a hill that comes well within the boundary of the forest. The mining was on at the base of the hill though the staff of the Forest Department were at the spot, reportedly to track a wild elephant.

According to residents from the locality, brick kilns and those supplying red earth to the units shifted excavation to Mangarai on a large scale due to shortage of the raw material at other places in Thadagam valley. It was basically depletion of resource owing to rampant excavation.

Though the concentration of brick kilns is mainly at Chinnathadagam and Periyathadagam, the availability of red earth has reduced in these places. Now, red earth is excavated in large levels at Mangarai and Veerapandi and transported in large trucks to brick kilns, a villager from Chinnathadagam said. Once major areas of wild elephant movement, the forest fringes of Mangarai, Veerapandi, Chinnathadagam, Periyathadagam and Thudiyalur in the Thadagam valley are less used by the elephants now owing to the deep pits left by excavation for red earth.
“Thadagam valley is a significant portion of the Attappadi – Pooluvapatti elephant corridor. Traditionally, elephants used to enter the valley through a route that branches off from the corridor between Panapalli and Mangarai at Kandivalli. The excavation for red earth has been causing disturbance to wild elephants for a very long time. In 2011, a wild elephant that was identified for radio collaring died after it fell into one of the pits,” said B. Ramakrishnan, Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Wildlife Biology at Government Arts College in Udhagamandalam. Mr. Ramakrishnan and Kalyanasundaram Ramkumar of Wildlife Trust of India studied the elephant corridor in 2007 and 2010.

When contacted, a senior official of the Department of Geology and Mining in Coimbatore, who did not want to be named, said that “there was no specific rule on the depth of mining”.

Quarrying shall be done for an optimum depth to be specified by the District Collector so that the land shall be restored to a state fit for cultivation, said the official, citing a rule from the Tamil Nadu Minor Minerals Concession Rules. The official also refused to disclose the number of brick kilns permitted to excavate red earth in Thadagam valley.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Hundreds march to Kerala assembly complex against waste


On a 35-km march, hundreds of protesters, including tribals, reached the Assembly complex here Wednesday raising slogans against the government's proposed decision to set up a 'waste-to-electricity' plant at Peringamala in Agasthyamala, a biodiversity hotspot.

The march began on December 3 from Peringamala, which is one of the six locations in Kerala identified for waste-to-energy projects.

The project site is surrounded by forest land and also houses a tribal settlement on one side.

Peringamala, 35 km from Thiruvanathapuram, and nearby areas are part of the Western Ghats and in the foothills of Agasthyamala, which is under under UNESCO's world list of biosphere reserves.

"The proposed plant would be eco-friendly and trees will be planted around and gardens will be set up.

The plant will use modern technology to manage the solid waste as per the current rules and regulations," Minister for Town Planning and Rural Development A C Moideen told the Assembly Wednesday.

However, local residents and nature lovers, who were marching for last two days, were not ready to buy this government version.

"We have heard all sorts of explanations like this. Instead of finding some place where there are no ecological concerns, the authorities have selected Peringamala, where the adjacent areas are rich with flora and fauna," wildlife photographer Sali Pangode told PTI.

He said the government has identified the land for the waste-to-energy plant bordering the Chittar river.

"The river merges with various other small rivers before reaching the sea and in between there are around 38 drinking water projects. The waste plant is going to affect all," the photographer said.

Wildlife enthusiast Praveen Muraleedharan said the area is home to the Great Indian Hornbill, Nilgiri Tahr, tigers and elephants.

"The Agasthya hills and its valleys are itself an ecosystem. It's home to the Great Indian Hornbill which is listed as vulnerable because of its decreasing population. The area is one among the 12 biodiversity hotspots in the world," he said.

He also said the proposed plant is located at a 'Myristica swamp', which are the most endangered forest ecosystems in India.

Myristica swamps are a type of freshwater swamp forest and occur on either side of 'first order streams.' 

A field study by a team of ornithologists had earlier noted that the area is home to rare species of birds, bees and butterflies.

When contacted, State pollution control board chairman K Sajeevan said the board has received a complaint on the matter and sent notice to the people concerned for hearing next week.
The protests have been going on for around 150 days in which local residents and the tribes are agitating against the proposed plant.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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