Nature lovers in the state have something to cheer about – some of them will be issued green passports! This venture will encourage conservation of forests and wildlife among wildlife enthusiasts. It was first introduced to environmental organisations and school forest clubs near the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Pathanamthitta district, by the Forest Department. Using this passport, around 40 students from 17 schools visited the reserve forest.
A green passport runs into about a hundred pages, with photos and details of the holder, do’s and don’ts during trekking and the number of visits and forests visited, etc. They can go trekking in inner forests and protected regions in Kerala, and the passport will be verified at each check post in reserve forests and protected areas.
The NGO’s and authorities of the State Forest Department involved in the vulture conservation in the Moyar Valley in the Nilgiris are a happy lot. Number of endangered species of vultures is stabilizing. Several vulture nests were found in Semmanatham, Jallikadavu and Siriyur in the Nilgiris North Forest Division, where one can find four species of vultures: Oriental White-backed, Indian, Red-headed and White Scavenger vultures.
The Sigur Plateau, where the Moyar valley and river are located, is important for its elephant and tiger wildlife corridor between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats. It borders Bandipur National Park to the northwest, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary to the west, and Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and Nilgiris East ranges to the east. The area is drained by the Moyar, Sigur, Avarahalla, Kedarhalla and Gundattihalla rivers.
Yes, isn’t that great news? The area that’s going to be made one is the Silent Valley buffer zone. It covers 148sq.km and will be named Bhavani-Kadalundi Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary will comprise the Mannarkkad Forest Division in Palakkad and the Nilambur South Forest Division in Malappuram. Two rivers that flow through the proposed sanctuary are the Bhavani River and Kotapuzha River.
The Silent Valley National Park is best visited between December and April. There are bungalows and rooms available for accommodation within the forests. The nearest railhead is at Palakkad, 55km away, and the closest airport is in Coimbatore, 100km away. It is easily reachable from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Bears don’t usually hit headlines for conservation. But this piece of news is exciting – recently 26 states drew up action plans for conservation and welfare of bears. They will be released during the 21st international conference on bear research and management in Delhi soon.
Zoo authorities, wildlife institutes, societies, welfare associations and the ministry of environment and forests were part of the meeting that discussed the national plan. It looks at topics such as bear habitats, threats, human-bear conflict, research work and conservation, and difficulties faced by the states in bear conservation. Bears are hunted for meat as well as their body parts traded in.
This is one animal found in all parts of the country. There are many varieties, too. It is interesting to note that four out of eight species of bears in the world are found in India – the Himalayan bear, the sloth bear, the Asiatic black bear and the sun bear.
The Western Ghats is an area of rich biodiversity, and several projects and ecological ventures are part of it. Recently, a photography exhibition portraying its biodiversity was inaugurated in Coimbatore. It is organised by an NGO called Siruthuli, as part of the World Wildlife Week celebrations. About 50 photos, all clicked by eminent wildlife and nature photographers, are targeted at the youth on topics such as conservation and preservation of environment.
The exhibition which was inaugurated by S Balaji, additional principal chief conservator of forests and director of Tamil Nadu Forest Academy, shows off many endemic species of animals, birds and plants.
Very soon, the wetland area of Munderikadavu and the catchment of the Kattampally river in Kannur, North Kerala, will be developed into a bird sanctuary.
There are more than 18,000 birds in the area, out of which 80 per cent are migratory birds. Some of the migratory birds visiting the sanctuary area are Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Bristled Grass Bird, Grey-necked Bunting, Red-headed Bunting, Common Greenshank, Black-headed Bunting, Spotted Red Shank, Common Sandpiper, Blyth’s Reed-warbler, Wood Sandpiper, Gadwall, Garganey, Common Teal and Eurasian Wigeon. Some of them come from as far away as Northern Europe and Siberia.
This ecosystem is one of the 24 Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Kerala. They are identified by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Birdlife International as priority sites for conservation. With the co-operation of Tourism and Forest Departments and the local bodies, reclamation of land and environmental degradation can be curbed.
Barandabhar Forest Corridor (BFC) plays a key role in the survival of Nepal’s Indian rhinos and Bengal tigers. The forest corridor links Chitwan National Park and the Mahabharat mountain range, also known as the Little Himalayas. The area is covered with forests, grasslands and wetlands. There are about 25 mammals, 96 species of birds and 223 species of flora. Also, it is home to 14 endangered species of birds and mammals, some of which are rhinos, tigers, leopards and three vulture species.
Inconsistent management policies and rampant deforestation are problems that face the proper functioning of the forest corridor. Social initiatives and involvement will help to sustain plant and animal life in the forests. Sustainable agriculture, medicinal plant and other non-timber forest product (NTFP) harvesting and wildlife tourism are tested methods that help to conserve forests and its resources.
Kerala tourism has grabbed the limelight yet again this year so far! It received the prestigious Golden Gate award at ITB Berlin, a leading global travel show. Malaysia took the Gold prize in the Print Campaign Category, and Kerala took the second spot. The campaign titled ‘Your Moment is Waiting’ was conceptualised and created by Stark Communications Pvt Ltd, the creative partner of Kerala Tourism.
This a grand boost for Kerala in the world tourism arena. Just when the country will see more than 6 crore international tourists and a fewer number of domestic ones! About 10% of India’s workforce is part of the Tourism and Hospitality industry. This will ensure a good growth in the year ahead.
With more than 8,000sq.km of protected wildlife area, Maharashtra is a big player in wildlife conservation. And to add to that is another 350sq.km, by way of four new sanctuaries. This will help to conserve tigers, although wildlife experts claim that this area isn’t enough, looking at the amount of destruction in forest cover. Conservationists agree that the areas of Kopela-Kolamarka (Gadchiroli), Umred-Karangla (Nagpur) and grassland areas in Marathwada can be declared as sanctuaries.
The areas notified are Umarzari adjoining Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary (152.81sq.km), Navegaon sanctuary around Navegaon National Park (133.88sq.km) and new Bor sanctuary around existing Bor Wildlife Sanctuary (61.1sq.km). This way, Navegaon-Nagzira will be declared a tiger reserve and Bor will become part of the famous Pench Tiger Reserve.
A joint effort at tiger surveys by India and Bhutan using the latest camera trapping has revealed 14 tigers, some spotted in both countries. It was conducted in Manas National Park in India and the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. Officials from WWF and representatives from NGO Aaranyak and ATREE, who helped with the camera trapping survey, were also present.
This is the first time such an advanced method has been used in Northeast India to spot tigers. Similar exercises were conducted in Kaziranga National Park in Assam and the 1,985sq.km Namdapha National Park in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier, surveyors used pug marks and other methods to carry out tiger surveys.
Aaranyak has successfully installed 100 cameras in the area. The image capturing will continue till March. Snow Leopards were also spotted in the survey. Namdapha was declared a National Park and a tiger reserve in 1983. Lack of good roads, electricity and manpower hamper conservation in the hills of Arunachal, especially the areas bordering Myanmar and China.
In Kaziranga National Park, the census was started last week and will go on for another month and a half. It will cover all its four forest ranges – Kohora, Bagori, Agoratoli and Burhapahar.