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International Journal of Environment & Agriculture ISSN 2395 5791


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Feb 16, 2016

Bittu Sahgal Raises Conservation Concerns With U.P. Chief Minister

On February 11, 2016, Sanctuary’s Editor Bittu Sahgal wrote to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Shri. Akhilesh Yadav requesting him to look into a number of issues that plague Uttar Pradesh’ only Tiger Reserve – Dudhwa.
This grainy image shows one of the tiger cubs stranded on a village roof, surrounded by dogs. The cub has disappeared since.
Shri Akhilesh Yadav
Hon'ble Chief Minister
5, Kalidas Marg,
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Dear Sir,
My late friend Billy Arjan Singh, the driving force behind the notification of your state's celebrated Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, loved Uttar Pradesh's forests dearly. It was through him that I too came to appreciate the wonderful wilderness of U.P. It is thus with great sorrow that I write to you on a number of concerns. Your initiatives towards wildlife conservation are well known and appreciated and I trust that you will look into and settle these matters urgently to the benefit of wild nature.
District Magistrate, Lakhimpur Kheri
Several reliable sources have written to me with concern that the DM of Lakhimpur Kheri has been entering into the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve after hours, and often with guests. The Bel Danda area in particular was of major concern as it was the territory of a tigress with four young cubs. As reported by the forest staff, their attempts to control the situation were dismissed, and the night visits stretched to the extent that the disturbed tigress was seen moving her cubs into the sugarcane fields that lie adjacent to the reserve. This placed the entire family at great risk. Tigresses are heavily invested in the success of their cubs and will do everything in their power to bring them up safely to adulthood. Unfortunately, displaced from their 'nursery' into a human-dominated landscape, this tiger family has met a horrific end. One cub was found dead on January 4, 2016. Another cub was found stranded on the terrace of a house in Tanda village surrounded by stray dogs. Though the forest staff managed to chase the dogs away and allow the young tiger to escape into the forest, the cub has vanished since. Similarly, the tigress and the remaining two cubs have disappeared. By all accounts the forest staff is highly demotivated by the actions of the DM, but still continue their search for the missing tigers.
Kindly ask the Chief Wildlife Warden and the NTCA to investigate the matter and if found true, disciplinary action needs to be taken immediately.
Unregulated and Rowdy Tourism in the Reserve
A member of the Sanctuary Asia team visited the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in the first week of January this year. Her first-hand report on the tourism at the reserve was extremely disconcerting. With no limit to the number of vehicle entries into the park, she found absolute chaos inside the park. The government licensed guides were unable to keep a check on tourist behaviour, which included urinating, littering, and screaming loudly inside the reserve.
Encroachments into the Sathiana Range
This range includes sprawling grasslands that provide breeding grounds for the critically endangered Bengal Florican. Unfortunately, my team member witnessed for herself the extreme encroachments into the range. Just metres from the RFO's checkpost, she saw villagers lopping wood. This scene repeated itself four times in a span of three hours. The encroachers seemed to have little fear of being caught or reprimanded. This easy entrance into a Protected Area raises immense concerns about the safety of wildlife in the park.
Problems in the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary
The beautiful Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary seems to be suffering from mismanagement. A large tourist complex has been built on the banks of the Girwa river in the likes of a cantonment area. The staff that operate the tourist activity from here, in this case boat rides, are inefficient and rude. Plastic bottles were observed in the sandbanks of the river near basking gharials, the boats were dilapidated and leaking diesel, and there was no communication on the biodiversity of the area from any of the staff. In addition, a captive population of gharial hatchlings is kept in this tourist complex. However, there is no caretaker present to inform the tourists about the programme, and ensure that tourists do not harass the hatchlings. Similar to the Sathiana range, blatant encroachments were noticed in the sanctuary.
Uttar Pradesh hosts some of the most spectacular tracts of the terai landscape, and is blessed with an abundance of wildlife. Your initiatives, such as the recently concluded Bird Fair and the notification of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve are proof of your deep interest and concern for the natural heritage of the state. With the correct guidance and expert management, I have no doubt that U.P. can become a model state for wildlife conservation and ecotourism practices. However, if these issues are not addressed urgently, I fear that the future of U.P's wilds will come undone.
May I request an audience with you to discuss conservation management in the state? My team and I are at your disposal to ensure that U.P emerges as a leader in the conservation realm. It will be my honour and privilege to bring a group of experts together to secure the state's natural heritage.

Yours sincerely,
Bittu Sahgal
Editor, Sanctuary Asia

Corresponding person: Cara Tejpal, Assistant Editor- Sanctuary Asia, email: cara@sanctuaryasia.com 

1 comment:

  1. very good work Sanctuary Asia, i appreciate your words... Hon. Chief Minister please check this letter and solve the problem of Dudhwa National Park.


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