Monday, August 23, 2010

The Role of Police in the recent attack

As the Tiger incident unfolds in Ranthambhore many effects of a system failure particularly with regard to the forest officials are coming to the forefront. The Bhuriphadi village which has generally not been hostile towards the forest in the past was already hostile in terms of an earlier incident where some money had changed hands and no receipts were provided. Under these circumstances Daulat Singh was sent to tranquilise this male Tiger that had already been suffering under heavy human disturbance. He was lucky to have had a committed Police Force with him that had little experience of Tiger control but were there to prevent any untoward incident between village and forest officials. This police force was already exhausted due to two days of Municipal election duty but still managed to be there and do the best they could. There was no officer from the Forest Department guiding the police force in any manner and they were left to be mere spectators with no instruction. However they still tried their best to control the mobs. They even tried to convince Daulat Singh to not go and try to tanquilise the Tiger the 2rd time as it was dangerous. Daulat was convinced and tried to tell his immediate superior Mr Sedu Ram Yadav that no more effort to tranquilise should be done as it was dangerous. However Sedu Ram was communicating with his superiors over the wireless and insisted that a 3rd attempt be made. It was against the back drop of this complete lack of understanding of the situation on behalf of the superior officers that Daulat took the risk to make a 3rd attempt. This situation is further compounded by the fact that as soon as Daulat was gravely injured the 1st person to leave the scene of incident was Mr Yadav and behind him disappeared most of the forest officials. It was the police that took stock of things and got Daulat out of the area and sent him to the Hospital. Not only did they do this but they kept a vigil on the Tiger keeping people away from the scene through the night and until the next day when the Tiger has left and gone back into the safety of the Park. During this entire period no forest official or staff stayed at the scene to watch the Tiger. Had the police not been there the villagers would have definitely killed the Tiger and if not that then the Tiger would have killed some of them.

ACF Sedhuram Yadav retreating after attack on Daulat Singh

Time and time again it has been seen that in crucial wildlife management crisis the top official in the Forest Department fail to provide a measured and experienced response. There is no standard operating protocol for such incidents and every action taken is a knee jerk reaction made on the spur of the moment causing needless injury to man and animal.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Tragic day in Ranthambhore.. .

Mr Daulat Singh attacked by the tiger when he went to close while trying to tranquilize him

20th august 2010 was yet another tragic day for the tiger and a brave forest ranger.

T7 (5-year-old) one of the favourite’s tiger of the tourism zone who shared his territory with his own father T2 (10 year old) unfortunately strayed out of the park due to the overgrazing of cattle by Uliana and Bhadlav villagers and entered the agricultural field of Bhuripahadi village.

The Background: At about 3 AM tiger killed one of the buffalo calves of a villager, at about 3.15 AM the villagers discovered this, threw stones on the tiger, pulled away the calf, and informed the forest department.

The forest department reached on site around 5 AM and about three canters of police also reached. By then about 1,500 villagers had gathered around in that area, the men and women of the village were creating unnecessary havoc and pressure on the officers.

Sites of attack which have taken place in the past 4 months

One of the Rangers – Mr Daulat Singh [The most able and efficient ranger of Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve] was cornered by villagers and physically abused.

This shoving created stress and strain on the forest rangers. The tiger was equally stressed due to the continuous stone throwing and other noises.

The stressed out tiger trying to find its way out of the crowd back in the forest

The ranger tried to tranquilize the tiger twice but missed the shot, third time around he tried to bend down and check if the tiger was darted but the tiger made a surprise attack.

Daulat Singh Saktawat was gravely injured on hands and face with him losing one eye.

Mr Daulat Singh rescued by the forest guards

He was rushed to the Sawai Madhopur Hospital, which had no electricity in the first place leave alone a sterilized Operation theatre. The state of the hospital was pathetic with no monitoring equipment, no oxygen, no ventilator and room was moist and filthy with fungus on the walls. Crowds of people were allowed to enter at will as if there was some magic show taking place and everyone was invited. Every possible protocol of Emergency Care was violated. Very crude patch up work was being done and that too in the light of a torch and even the torch was not immediately available and was brought by Dharmendra Khandal which was a car light used for Hyena filming. The generator was not working and everything was left to the mercy of God.

Under normal circumstances in such a small District town, the General Hospital would be the logical place to take all emergencies, but here there was an option of the best emergency care that was on the way from the site of injury, which was Ranthambhore Sevika.

The Sevika Hospital was on the way from Bhuriphadi and would save at least 30 minutes time as that is how long it would take to get to the General Hospital. Sevika Hospital is equipped with the best Doctors and equipment and yet the local officials took the unnecessary risk to take one of their brethren to the General Hospital where even electricity was not available.

These were the mistakes made due to the ego and protocol issues by the forest department, however there were some mistakes made on the site of the catastrophe:

No basic emergency equipment was available to combat the situation in such case with mob around; a kit should be available with the foresters, which would contain a loudspeaker to pacify the crowd, safety wear for the team such as helmets, and thick jackets (Which could have prevented this incident due to which Mr Daulat Singh ji lost one of his eye).

The eye lid was stitched with the cheek in the Sawai Madhopur hospital pretty badly and it will take a lot of work and expertise of the plastic surgeon to correct it.

Mr Daulat might not be able to see with one of his eye in the future but the eyes above all of us is looking at the people who let it happen due to their ego's and impassivity.

After the darkness of the night the tiger returned back in the jungle...

In the night the tiger went back to the forest...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Two Tigers Down . ..

Where.. . Why.. . How?

Today 2 Sub adult tigers found dead due to poisoning in Talda Khet village which is in corridor of Ranthambhore National Park (RNP) and Keladevi Sanctuary (KDS)

The carcass of tiger 1 - sub adult cub

Forest Department inspecting the dead bodies of one of the 2 tigers dead

Ranthambhore - 7th of March 2010

Place – Village Taldakhet (In corridor area between Ranthambhore National Park and Keladevi Sanctuary, 1/2 Km away from RNP)

2 tigers were found dead in Village Talda khet, which comprises of just 5 Gujjar families. The age of tigers was about 2 year old.

Carcass of Tiger 1 found at some distance from its brother

Carcass of the sub adult Tiger - 2

The carcass was 2-3 days old. The tigers had killed 2 goats, one goat was tied to a tree which was probably poisoned by the villagers, while the other goat was lying on the ground nearby. The reason was that these tigers had been killing villagers livestock!­

No external injury was found on the tigers, and the bodies were in almost decomposed state.

Almost decomposed body found after 2 - 3 days - shows the lack of monitoring?!

Satellite map of the village where the 2 sub adult cubs were found dead due to poisoning.

This is exactly the same place where a few days back a road was being constructed between Keladevi Sanctuary and Ranthambhore National Park, this village is just at the fringe of this corridor.

Since 3 months, these cubs were going with their mother and used to halt in the area... These tigers were frequently visiting this Ravenous area.. . One side is Vindhya range and other side is a river flowing..

Forest Department has accepted that it is a poisoning case.

Map of the corridor area between Ranthambhore National Park and Keladevi Sanctuary showing Talda Khet Village

Fateh Singh Rathore’s Questions to the authority –

1) The two sub adult tigers were visiting that area since 1 ½ months did they improve monitoring?

In my understanding – Lakshmi Pandit, forest guard - was the only one monitoring that area.

2) Did they have dialogue with the resident villagers?

3) Did they leave a monitoring vehicle in that area?

In my understanding – All the monitoring vehicles are busy in tourism or getting vegetables in the houses of the officials.

4) Why was this small but significant village not on their relocation priority, when they are spending 30 crore rupees on a lesser significant village – Hindwad,

In my understanding – they have no ground plan as to how they have to shape Ranthambhore’s future.

5) There is tremendous construction inside the Ranthambhore National Park and the tigers are disturbed and forced to move out, has the department understood this and done something about it?

6) If they were going in an area which does not have a prey base - there are no spotted deer and no sāmbhar deer’s, how many domestic animals did they kill and how many of the villagers got a cattle compensation?

If they do not answer the first 5 questions – but answer, just the last question that I ask - the truth will reveal...

The unacceptable thing in this incident is that the people who are appointed for the monitoring of tigers are busy with tourism and other jobs.. .

Who are the culprit - The village has 5 brothers - Hari Gujjar, Ramcharan Gujjar, Mangilal Gujjar, Kedar Gujjar and Surjan Gujjar. Ramcharan has been arrested. The goats belonged to Mangilal Gujjar and Surjan Gujjar while 2 sons of Surjan are arrested.

Photo courtesy: Giriraj Sharma (ETV)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thickets of Thorn - Prosopis juliflora

Thickets of Thorn - Prosopis juliflora

The Thorns are creating trouble for the soft padded Tiger

(A plant species from Mexico - which has invaded and grown cancerously in and around Ranthambhore is an unseen threat to the tiger. If not treated in time, it will become a invincible. .. A discussion with Jogi on Prosopis juliflora... )

After taking a holy bath from Kumbh mela Jogi returned a cleansed and recharged soul.

He took a safari with Ranthambhore’s crazy people to enlighten them, although people were apprehensive to go along with him but who could have refused our Jogi.

Finally the safari began, seated in gypsy were - Fateh Singhji, Balendu Singhji, Dicky, Dharmendra, myself while Raees was our driver.

However, the gypsy got punctured near the Guda chowki! And had no Stepney in it. Fathji said, “If Shameem’s vehicles had Stepney in them the world would have been a different place”.

Raees’s devil’s advocate Dharmendra said, this is due to the juliflora thorns, what’s his fault?

Fathji said, “Yaar vehicle getting punctured is okay, but he should keep Stepney at least?!”

Balendu Singhji was the wisest and he took the opportunity to mould the discussion towards a meaningful direction in order to pass the time . ..

Balendu Singhji asked, “How did it invade the state of Rajasthan?”

Raees in the meanwhile went to the chowki to get some aid.

Jogi said, “I shall tell you about juliflora – juliflora’s story is Romantic.”

All of us looked amused as Jogi speaking romance was new to our ears!

Jogi looked at Fathji and asked, “Can there be a relation between a shrub and romance Fathji?” Fathji looked at Jogi but it felt as if he was just looking through him and had actually gone in his distant past.. .

Jogi shrugged Fathjis shoulder but then without waiting he started speaking himself...

He said, Jodhpurs darbar (Ruler)Maharaja Hanmant Singh was an handsome man.. strong in built and soft at heart.

He was ambitious and always had a special interest in bringing out new technologies. In the 40’s and 50’s he had an aircraft, which he piloted himself.

He was peoples person and a very liked ruler of his time.. . there came a time when he fell in love with someone. Her name was Zubeida. He would take utmost care of Zubeida.. .

In the summers he would take Zubeida from the hot desert area of Jodhpur to Rajasthan’s highest peak area – Mount Abu.

Blinded in love Hanumant Singh wanted to do something extraordinary for his love, at the same time Zubeida would keep testing his love for her.. .

While in Mt. Abu, some Maharajas from Gujarat state were with them, as the royal guests, the Maharaj of Gujarat talked about how in the Kutch and the Dang jilla (region) Prosopis juliflora was been forested.

At that time Zubeida told Hanumant Singhji, that the area they would fly between Mt. Abu and Jodhpur was very dry and barren and some greenification should be done there too.

On this, Hanumant Singhji started the plantation work and the love struck Raja wanted to please his lover very soon; for this he did aerial spraying of the P. juliflora seeds for which he did back and forth rides in the area several times.. .

In 10-15 years this place was green and a thicket developed in that area.. the Jodhpur darbar went on to declare juliflora as a wonder tree and it was banned from being cut, burnt or removed.

This was the first exotic species invasion in the state of Rajasthan which got uplift from a very big ruler...

I said, “then this is very good, a dry state like Rajasthan getting green!”

Jogi nodded his head and said, “Yes, all is green but just green is of what use? Its leaves are filled with poison which makes it inedible for any animal, stems have huge nail like thorns making it impossible to walk through it for any animal or human alike, the roots have the power to suck extra nutrients and water from the soil making other trees impossible to grow where it stays.”

Dicky asked Jogi, “How did this pest invade Ranthambhore?”

Jogi said, “it was restricted to just Marwar in times of Hanumant Singhji – but it was spread by the Forest Department of Rajasthan – in their Greenifation of Aravalli scheme. For this they got funds from the Japan Government – crores of rupees were given by Japan governemnt for ecology restoration and since Rajasthan is a dry state juliflora was chosen for fast and successful plantation. The Forest department made a new department and new buildings were erected too and this plantation drive was started as the Aravalli project”

Jogi said, if you want to know more about the juliflora here is more information...

About the plant : Prosopis juliflora (Swartz)

Family: Leguminosae

A large shrub or a small, evergreen, armed tree, branches long, with thorns. Pods linear, compressed, straight or often falcate, indehiscent, 0.8-1cm, Seeds 20-25, compressed, ovoid.

Flo.and Fr.: Almost throughout the year.

Favorable Climatic condition: A hot dry climate, mild winter, low rainfall and clear atmosphere are said to suit it best.

Incidentally the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve provides the mesquite with all these favorable conditions.

- Prosopis juliflora is weed that degrades the natural ecosystem of the park.

- A notorious plant species that crosses the physical boundary of the park and enters into the prime habitat of the Tiger.

- P. juliflora covers more then 60 Sq.Km. of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve .

- Prime Tiger Habitat is then converted into dense impenetrable thickets of the mesquite.


Its a Native plant of Mexico. In 1879 its seeds were bought from Kew, England and introduced in the Sholapur district of Maharashtra.

In 1894, Large-scale plantations were carried out in the Pabbi Hills in Gujarat – this was the first trial of Forest Department.

In 1913-14 it was introduced in Jodhpur as a part of highly successful afforestation scheme.

And in 1976-78, it was introduced in Ranthambhore Tiger reserve, Plantation Scheme known as Rawara Plantation.

How does it disperse ?

Biotic agents, especially ungulates are the principal agents for the seed dispersal in the park.Dropping analysis of the different animals shows that following animals are the primary agents………

1.Antelopes (Blue bull & Chinkara).

2. Porcupine

3.Grazing cattle of outskirts.

These animals are fond of the P.juliflora pods. By eating the pods and excreting its seed helps to spread the plant further in the park.

Ungulates are the natures agent in spreading the juliflora seeds in the area

Survival Strategy of juliflora –

Leaves of the mesquite are not edible due to the presence of strong alkaloid's. However the pods are full of sugar, attracting ungulates and other animals to consume them, thereby causing their dispersal.

The sweet tasting pods attract the ungulates and other animals and they disperse the seeds through their droppings.. .

Impact on Native Flora

Grows very fast in comparison with the native flora. It crowds out the local plant species.

Chemicals of fallen leaves prohibits growth of any other plant species, especially fodder grasses for ungulates.

Well developed root system, absorbs extra nutrients, other plants in the vicinity cannot compete and grow.

Soft padded animals like the Tigers are easy victims of juliflora thorns...

Impact on Fauna

1. Highly susceptible thorns. The Mesquite infested area is inaccessible for the Tiger and other animals. Many birds have not yet learnt to tackle these alien thorns. Generally, they never nest in this tree.

2. Leaves of P.juliflora upsets the digestive system of ungulates.(because of the presence of strong alkaloids in leaves). Pods of the mesquite, which the ungulates relish, dislocate their jaw, thus reducing grazing efficiency.

3. This plant has been encroaching on the foraging grounds of the crane in areas such as Gilai Sagar and Mansagar lake.

4. Lewis and Elwin Lewis (1977) reported that ingestion over a period of time results in death of cattle.

5. Kingsbury (1964) Mesquite poisoning may induce a permanent impairment of the ability to digest cellulose.

6. Lewis and Elwin Lewis (1977) reported that pollen grains may cause allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma, and hypersensitivity.

These thorns are as nasty as iron nails.. .

Uses of the Mesquite

1. P.juliflora is a chief source of fuel wood for the rural areas around the park. Use of the mesquite as a fuel wood, is the only known use. Some times it is also used for charcoal production.

2. Wood of the mesquite cannot be stored for a long time without chemical treatment unlike other species, so it has low furniture wood value.

3. Few people claim that it’s a great source of honey, gum, flour, fodder and wood but these are not yet popular. On the other hand it is detrimental to the native flora and fauna, thus making it very expensive in the overall picture.

The red clusters show the spread of juliflora in and around Ranthambhore

Magnitude of P. juliflora in the park

A. Monoculture of P. juliflora

1. BherawandaKhurd to Khandar to Sanwata. (1.5 x 30 km. long strip) = 45 sq.kms

2. Other areas (Amershwar, Sherpur, Bhadlav et. ) = 15 Sq.Km.

B. Individual scattered Plant - approx 1,50,000 trees

Management of juliflora

Their are two safe methods of eradication of the P.juliflora:

1. Monoculture stage can be eradicated mechanically.

(Excavator machine= JCB).

2. Single plant and sapling stage can be removed manually.

Caution :

- it is very important that root system or root part should not remain.

- Regeneration of eradicated plant should be regularly monitored in the operated area.

”Balendu Singhji said, “scientists and ecologists have strong negative opinions on invasive species and we understand your point Jogiji, but what next?”

If Hanumant Singhji was aware of this problem he would have also made the efforts to eradicate the juliflora even if it was the source of happiness for his lover Zubeida as he was a tough headed man , but the forest officials who ARE aware of this sprouting issue keep their eyes conveniently closed...

Jogi replied, “The government should use schemes like Mahatma Gandhi Rojgar Gaurantee Yojana and people like Fathji should be made the governing body as he has the experience and knowledge, about it all. In fact there was a water hyacinth problem in Bharatput years ago when Fathji was the Field Director there and all birds had stopped coming. He successfully eradicated the pest weeds from the water...

Similar efforts and dedication is needed in Ranthambhore...

And there came Raees bhai panting, rolling a spare tyre he got from somewhere... A tough jungle man - he said, these nasty thorns can pierce into tough radial tyres imagine, what distress they cause to the tigers soft paws - He too can understand the simple logic but not the forest department perhaps.. .