Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wildlife Legal Procedure workshop -2011

Organized By: Project Tiger, Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve,

Forest Department, Rajasthan.

Co-organized by : Tiger Watch

Ranthambhore has been always seen as the conservation temple, from time to time the forest department has joined hands with experts from various fields to work out fresh training models and refresh existing system to educate forest staff to protect wildlife of the region.

One such interesting step was the Wildlife Legal Procedure Workshop held on 21st December at Ranthambhore. The objective of the workshop was to get on a single platform members from the legal fraternity be - public prosecutor fighting for the forest department, crime advocate fighting in favor of the lawbreakers and the judge besides other dignitaries.

The target audiences for this workshop were the forest officials (forest guards, foresters and rangers) who might be working hard to protect the forest but have not been sensitized enough on all the nitty gritties of managing the legal aspects once the criminal is arrested. Sometimes these people working for the forest become victim of the lawbreakers accusing them for unnecessary arrests. The workshop was carefully designed keeping in mind all the varied issues a forest official should look into before, in course of and after an arrest.

When Tiger Watch initiated the plan to conduct the workshop DFO Ranthambhore core – Mr YK Sahu stepped into action mentioning that it was the need of the hour and such an initiative would encourage all his staff to be more aware and enthusiastic about legal procedures which they need to follow in the day to day operations.

Mr. Sahu designed the workshop and emphasized that the speakers should be from the field. He emphasized that the talks should cover legal procedures involved with varied forest issues encountered by his team. Adv. Ms. Padmini Rathore and forester Mr. Omprkash Shaikywar designed the course material for sharing amongst the participants while Fateh public School provided the venue. Total 44 forest guards, forester and range officer have been participated in the workshop.

All the forest officials took immense interest in the workshop.

Workshop Session

1. 1. Mr. YK Sahu, DFO: The start of this session was though a welcome and introductory note by DFO Ranthambhore core – Mr YK Sahu. In his note he emphasized that all those present should carefully understand the new amendments to the laws as also the gaps the department personnel unfortunately leave while doing the paper work for the cases. He also encouraged Tiger Watch to organize such awareness sessions and finally thanked all the present honorable speakers who graced the occasion open heartedly for the open sessions of discussions which would help them to open their apprehensions and mental blocks.

DFO-Core Mr. Y K Sahu designed and organized the workshop

2. 2.. Hon. Mr. Ashok Kumar Agrawal, Chief Judicial Magistrate: key note speaker Mr. Agrawal spoke about the importance of protocols before and after an arrest and making of critical notes during the time of arrest. He also mentioned that any case should have proper paper work from the side of the department.

Chief judicial Magistrate Mr. Ashok Kumar Agrawal lighting the lamp

Mr. Asrar Ahmed, public prosecutor – Sawai Madhopur spoke about the important points while making case diary and charge sheets. He mentioned that issues like making of area maps and taking signature of the eye witnesses at time of arrests would be of great help in keeping confusions away. A case diary is accessed by the judges and should ideally contain details of all the relevant events in the case.

Public prosecutor Asrar Ahmed

4. Mr. Giriraj Tehria, Senior criminal Advocate: This session was one of the most interesting of all where spoke about how ambiguities in various procedures makes the case of the opponents stronger and the governments weaker. He also explained that there any many hearing when no one from the forest department comes for the hearing, which is equally important because of the opposition is not present the judge would only know one side of the story. Mr Tehria said that he too gets hurt when he hears of an animal poached or a tree being cut in the forest but this is his profession and he is supposed to defend his clients as much as a doctor defends his patients. He also mentioned that all the cases should have proper documents attached and more than anything else he emphasized that that department should have photographs of the events during the time of arrest especially when they are planned arrests an official can have a camera to take photographs which would lead to a very strong evidence in front of the judge and court.

Adv. Giriraj Tehria, senior criminal advocate

5. Dr. Bhagwan Singh Rathore, ACF: a much respected forest officials who did his LLB and later masters in law further completing his doctorate in law staying with in the forest services spoke at length about the wildlife protection act.

DCF Mr. Bhagwan Singh Nathawat delivered a very informative talk on Wildlife protection act

6. Advocvate Ms Padmini Rathore: who was coordinating on the dais gave a briefing session of all the speakers and also took a test of the attendees.

Adv. Ms. Padmini Rathore took a test of the workshop participates

Later ACF Mr. Sudarshan Sharma distributed certificates to participants and finally to conclude the session RFO, Mr Dinesh Gupta thanked all the people present – the team members who attended the session the speakers for their valuable time for his coordination and support in the Mr Sahu who full heartedly supported the program.

ACF Mr. Sudarshan Sharma distributing certificates to participates
ACF, Mr. Sudarshan Sharma distributing certificates
participants and faculty of the workshop

all pics by : Mr. Hans Dalal

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Refinishing the Relocation

Now the Villagers of Padra have no reason to sing ‘why this kollavari di?’ link below (Kollavari means ‘why did you do this to me?’) because they have now been given fair chance to live life just like the rest of their villager men and women, who were relocated in 2007.

If this village, which is located in the core of Ranthambhore forest, is moved out the forest department would be able to make space for 4-5 tigers in a secure protected zone otherwise these tigers would be forced to stray out to look for their territory.

These 23 families stayed back because they could not settle with the land they were offered, they were left with dented infrastructure as the rest villagers were gone besides these the remaining families were hindering the tigers from flourishing in the area.

Village Padra - A hurdle now in process of getting cleared for the inviolate landscape

The Chief Secretary of Rajasthan - the top most bureaucrat of the state, arrived in Jogi Mahal a few days ago and organized a meeting with all the concerned department officials. Instead of setting up just a meeting, the man of action set a morning aside to visit the villages himself along with the team consisting of the HoF, CWLW, DM, SP, CF, DFO, ACF, RO’s, AD and other officials to handover the cheques to the villagers.

A discussion of all local officers, senior officials and villagers

Mr S Ahmed sitting for further discussions with the villagers

Mr S. Ahmed discussing possibilities of better prospects after the villagers settle in the new land

DFO Mr YK Sahoo with HoF singing the cheques for distribution

This time the district of Sawai Madhopur has been blessed with genuine officers not one or two but most of the team members are proactive. With all the personal interactions, I have had with them the commissioner is a learned and strategic person; while the SP – an academician from Cambridge is a calm and controlled person.

The CF and DFO are not just managing regular duty but are actually following the wall construction around the park, but also rigorous monitoring of the tigress with cubs and legitimately concerned about their safety as some of them are living at the edge of the park and are in danger of villagers anger.

The three musketeers - CF Mr Gupta, SP Mr Bhomia and Collector Mr Kushwaha

Calling the water works engineers to make arrangements for boring water in the relocation site

Women looking forward to a better future for their children waiting outside the park

Mr S Ahmed calling amma to remove pardah and look at future - the elderly lady blessed him for the gift given by the government at the last stages of her life

A close up view of Village Padra inside the Ranthambhore national park

Padra village from inside

Chottu Gurjar - was attacked by a tiger few years ago bears the marks on his face and heart but today is happy to move out of the forest

Laughing laddoo.. but everybody else smiling too!

The team combined has covered most aspects of this village relocation. There is an important message which would pass on to the remaining villagers who are waiting to see if this village would move or now and once it does happen the rest would be motivated to follow. There are three more villages left to be moved outside the park 12 villages were relocated by late Shri Fateh Singh Rathore.

Tigress T11 with one of her three cubs - she lives in the same area; a few years ago the same tigress had lost her cubs to poisoning by villagers from the area

Jogi watching over the relocation process

Jogi is hopeful about the process of relocation rolling which would benefit the tiger and the locals both alike... one man has set an example and we hope remaining three villages will be relocated too...

So now no more Kollavadi di !!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reformed poacher Jugraj Mogya

This story is of a poacher, who has killed three tigers in Ranthambhore National Park but since 1 ½ years he is working in the forest department office as a gardener.

Ex poacher Jugraj Mogya now working as a gardener in DFO office

Jugraj Mogya is facing trial in high court for killing three tigers from Ranthambhore national park. He was operating from the Uliyana village. In 2006, Jugraj surrendered his illegal weapon to late Shri Fateh Singh Rathore and his retired friend ex-DGP Rajasthan late Mr. Shantanu Singh. Add. SP -Mr. Samir Singhji lead team of CB –CID had listed him for poaching three tigers and selling to a trader.

Jugraj in police custody

Late Sri Fateh singh ji and Late Sri Shantanu Kumar ji addressing the media during Jugraj's surrender

After few months in jail, Jugraj got a bail. When jugraj came back to his village Halonda, some villagers of Uliayana kidnapped him and made him a bonded labor, so that they could compensate their loan. Village Uliana is infamous for their violent people. In early 8o’s the villagers from Uliana had attacked Mr. Fateh and broken his legs and hand. They fired on policemen and provided shelter to poachers like Devi Singh.

Jugraj had taken INR 25000 loan for his daughters marriage from them. The villagers made new loan papers and included that Jugraj had taken INR 67000/- loan, actually they included interest in this sum. Now, Jugraj was asked to pay almost INR 2000 per month as interest and return the rest of the inflated money. That time DFO-Ranthambhore got news that Jugraj is in Uliyana again and can kill a tiger any time to return the loan. Once again the Forest officials contacted Tiger Watch to rescue Jugraj from Uliana.

Jugraj was rescued from Uliana by Tiger Watch team but scared Jugraj said that his family’s life could be in danger and he has no choice but to settle the loan. Fateh Singh rathore called up the villager who had lended the money to Jugraj and ACF Mr. Sudarshan Sharma to settle this case. Fatehji decided to give INR 25000 from Tiger Watch to the money lender and ACF Mr Sudharshan offered new job to Jugraj. Fateh’s German friend Mr. Dieter Gutman compensated this money to Tiger watch.

ACF Sudharshan Sharma played an important role in reform of Jugraj

ACF Mr. Sudarshan Sharma gave him job of gardener in forest office. Secure job and uniform gave Jugraj the confidence, peace of mind and dignity. To date Jugraj is working with forest department. Gratitude’s from Tiger Watch to Mr. Sudarshan Sharma for his positive contribution towards reform of this poacher.

If the community, NGO and authority do small deeds like this they can change the face of conservation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Machali II fights T-6 for Sambar kill

Machali fights T6

Those who know Ranthambhore also know its famous lady - Machali (II). Machali has been the grandmother of Ranthambhore now and is still fighting. We all have heard of her fighting the crocodiles (when she reined the lakes), her told and untold countless fights with other tigers and her stories of grace, dominance and richness (Machali has earned about US $ 10 million per annum for the last 10 years for Ranthambhore's economy) she has been indeed a legend and an asset to Ranthambhore and its people.

On 14th June we were fortunate to see the ageless lady again fighting for her food. And yes she is not scared she means business.

Read on:

Our first sighting was of T-6 but it was at a distance ... at laambi ka nallah first pic below ...

T-6 at the laambi ka nalla he sat in the waters, (which is the area currently occupied by Machali) for a long time sniffing the air as if searching for something. We didnt know...

Soon we got to know that Machali is sleeping with the sambar kill on the top plateau. It was about 6 PM yet hot summer was like a furnace! Machali was sleeping about 40 feet from the kill, the sambar looked huge. She must have consumed about 10% of it, she must have been waiting for weather to get cooler before she would eat also, due to the loss of canines she must be waiting for the meat to decompose which would be easier to chew.

Machali and the sambar kill

Within 10 minutes of us coming up came the male T-6 sniffing the kill he must have walked more than a kilometer distance.

Machali went alert even before most of us and we could easily see her apprehension and her gauging the situation.

The young male walking towards the kill

As soon as the male came closer Machali steped back and sat at some 50 feet distance

The male started to eat the kill

T-6 giving some interesting looks

In a moment he left the kill and rushed towards Machali

Machali stood on two feet, claws open and pounced on T-6 before he could attack

We see Machali facing the camera

Cat wrestling there

T-6 soon got the control

His paws striking Machali on face

Machali falling on the ground

Machali hitting the male on the eyes with claws out

Male turning back
One last warning
Big roars before T-6 pulls back

T-6 back at Machali's kill - stealing the steal

Pictures © Divya and Dharmendra Khandal.