Madhya Pradesh Forest Department

Text Box: WILDLIFE WING

Special Conservation Initiatives

Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project in Kuno-Palpur Sanctuary

 

The last of the Asiatic lions are now confined in only one protected area, the Gir National Park in Gujarat. The concern regarding the risk of losing the only population to an epidemic or some natural calamities, led to a search for a second home for lions in the early 1990s. The Wildlife Institute of India carried out a survey in 1993-94 and finally recommended the Kuno - Palpur Sanctuary and its adjoining forests in Sheopur district as the best possible second home for lions. It would be interesting to note that the last lion in Central India was shot in a forest belt near Kuno in 1873. A lion reintroduction project is now on in the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary, supported by funds from the Central Government. The Project was originally planned for Twenty years, but inevitable delays have already affected the project life.

The work started in1996-97. The Government of India has funded this project under three Centrally Sponsored Schemes- Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries, Ecodevelopment around Protected Areas and the Beneficiary Oriented Scheme for Tribal Development, operating earlier. All 24 villages situated in the sanctuary have been resettled outside. The total number of families covered under the relocation plan is 1545. While the Government of India provided the funds for the resettlement of the people in new locations, the state provided two hectares of arable land, and a housing plot to each adult, in addition to paying compensation for the immovable properties of the people in their native villages.

†Management actions for minimizing biotic pressures, restoration of habitat, water conservation, enhancement of prey base and strict protection have already been initiated. The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun has conducted the prey base assessment in January-February, 2005.  The site has been adjudged as ready to receive lions.  The Government of Madhya Pradesh has urged the Central Government to expedite transfer of a pride of lions from Gujarat at the earliest. However, the government of Gujarat is somehow not inclined to provide the founder animals for starting the lion population in Kuno. Although the Government of India is now seriously considering the option of using zoo bred animals of certified Asiatic lineage to start the new lion population, a public interest litigation (PIL) is also pending in the Supreme Court to direct Gujarat to provide the founder stock for this venture. Government of MP is very keen to have the lions at the earliest as the state has done everything expected from it, including the relocation of 1545 poor families, to help conserve this national heritage. If the stalemate is not resolved expeditiously, the state may have to consider introducing tigers in the sanctuary as wasting such a prime a habitat is not in the interest of conservation of wildlife in the state.

 

Reintroduction of Gaur (Indian Bison) in Bandhavgarh National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikas Nidhi (Development Fund)

 

Government of Madhya Pradesh issued an order in 1997 enabling all National Parks and Sanctuaries to utilize the receipts from wildlife tourism for development of the Protected Areas. Now, each PA has its own development fund, which can be used for such development works for which funds are not readily available under the normal budget. A State Level Committee, chaired by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests approves the projects to be funded out of this fund. Approximately Rs. 45 crore have so far been generated through the Vikas Nidhi, in different PAs since its inception.

 

Wildlife Health Monitoring, Disease Diagnostic and Research Cell, Jabalpur.

 

To make a beginning towards creating a wild animal health care facility, the MP Forest department has established a Wildlife Health Monitoring, Disease Diagnostic and Research Cell at Veterinary College Jabalpur in collaboration with the Jawaharlal Nehru Agriculture University. Essential Equipment was provided to this cell under the MP Forestry Project in the nineties. An annual contingency grant is also provided by the department to this cell. The centre also provides forensics support to the department in criminal investigation. The forensic capabilities are being further strengthened by creating a reference museum for identification of bones and other parts of important wildlife species.

 

Tiger Cell

 

Increased incidence of poaching of wild animals, especially of highly endangered species like tiger, all over the country is attributed mainly to the high value fetched by the skin, bones and other body parts of these animals in the international market. International gangs of poachers are involved in the illicit trade in endangered wildlife. As M.P. has nearly 10% of world's tiger population as well as other vulnerable fauna and flora, the state has the responsibility to provide the best protection to tigers. In order to carry out this responsibility the Police and the Forest departments jointly constituted a " Tiger Cell " in 1994 to strengthen investigation of wildlife crimes. The joint efforts of the police and forest personnel have yielded positive results. The Tiger Cell meets regularly to take stock of the progress as well as the shortcomings in its efforts.

 

Establishment of Tiger Strike Force

 

In order to further strengthen the protection machinery, the State government had established 6 Anti-poaching Squads in highly sensitive areas-namely Bhopal, Jabalpur, Satna, Itarsi, Indore. These squads have now been integrated into a Tiger Strike Force (TSF) under a central command. The mission of this force is to collect and collate intelligence regarding wildlife crime and to help the field administration in preventing wildlife offences from happening all together. These units are headed by officers of the rank of Assistant Conservators of Forests (ACFs). These units are equipped with the needed mobility and equipment to discharge their functions.

 

Special Tiger Protection Force

 

The NTCA has offered to support the constitution of a Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) in Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench Tiger Reserves of the State. The force will consist of a company strength (110) of personnel. The force will be trained on the lines of the India Reserve Battalions and will be responsible for assisting the tiger reserve management against poaching of tiger and other wildlife. The force shall be equipped with the necessary mobility and weapons needed to register a strong deterrent presence in the area. The force is likely to be operational soon, as the recruitment of staff and procurement issues are taken care of.

 

Sniffer Dog Squads

 

In yet another effort to strengthen its antipoaching capabilities, the State, with support from TRAFFIC-India has trained two dogs to trace tiger and leopard skins, bones and other parts. The dogs will be attached to the Tiger Strike Force units stationed at Hoshangabad and Jabalpur. The training of the dogs and their handlers will be complete by the end of July 2010. The dogs will regularly check railway stations and bus stands for any suspicious materials and will also participate in raids based on informersí inputs.

Bandhavgarh National Park had a small population (20-30 animals) of Gaur until about 1995, which mysteriously disappeared from the park, except one male that lingered there for a few more years. The department has initiated the process of reintroducing this species back into the national park, through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project. As a part of the project approximately 20 animals shall be translocated from Kanha to Bandhavgarh in the fall of 2010. The project is being executed with the technical collaboration from Taj Safaris and Conservation Corporation of Africa (CC Africa). CC Africa, which is now called &Beyond, has trained 3 forest officers and two veterinarians in capture and transport of large animals in South Africa,while Taj Safaris have donated two specially modified large vehicles for transporting the animals. The actual capture of

animals shall be done under the supervision of African experts who have experience in translocating thousands of animals in Africa and other countries. Enclosures for housing the captured gaurs have already been constructed. It is hoped that the project, in addition to bringing gaur back to Bandhavgarh, will also train and equip the forest department, and WII, with the ability to undertake translocation of wild animals in large numbers, to repopulate depleted areas.

Reintroduction of Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus

Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, instituted a study in collaboration with Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Wildlife Trust of India, New Delhi to assess the potential of reintroduction of the Cheetah, in India, which extirpated from the country soon after Independence. The study identified two potential sites in the State apart from other sites elsewhere. Palpur-Kuno area in Sheopur district which is already a site for reintroduction of Asiatic Lion and Nauradehi sanctuary in Sagar, Damoh and Narsinghpur districts of the State. A task force has been constituted which will detail the programme of reintroduction.