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Satpuda Landscape Tiger Programme (SLTP)

Status of the Tigers and co-predators in the central Indian landscape

 

Maharashtra

Tigers were distributed in three major populations, namely a) Melghat comprising a part of the Satpura Landscape, having a recorded tiger presence in 1,828 km2, supporting a population of 30 (± 1 se range 21-39) tigers. The tiger distribution in Melghat is contigious with the population in Madhya Pradesh forming a meta population with the Satpuda Tiger Reserve as the other source population. b) Pench (Maharashtra) being contigious with the forest patch of Pench Tiger Reserve in MP forming a part of the Maikal landscape, has a recorded tiger presence in 424 km2 and supports a population of 19 (± 1 se range 16-23) tigers, some of which it shares with MP. c) Tadoba-Andhari landscape of 2000 km2 has a tiger occupancy in 775 km2 and supports 34 (± 1 se range 27-41) tigers. This landscape has potential to serve as a source for the Navegaon-Indravati Landscape through the Northern forest patches in the Districts of Chandrapur, Garhchiroli and Bhandara. In the south stepping stone forest patches exist in the Tehsils of Gond Pipri and Sirpur. Sporadic tiger presence of about 12-27 (± 1 se range) tigers is recorded in the forests of Bhrampuri, Garhchiroli, Nagbir, Chimur, and Ahiri tehsils. This possibly indicates habitat connectivity to populations in Indravati Tiger Reserve in Chattisgarh and the Northern forests of Anhdra Pradesh.

Population Size: Total tiger population in the State of Maharashtra was estimated to be 103 with a standard error range of 76-131 tigers.

Tiger source populations of Melghat, Tadoba, and Pench need to be consolidated through enhanced protection and habitat management especially in forest areas surrounding these tiger reserves. This would increase the survival of dispersing tigers thereby increasing the tiger population and its effective source value. Interstate cooperation for management of Melghat and Pench is vital for the long term survival of the Satpura and Maikal Landscape tiger populations. Habitat connectivities of the Tadoba-Andhari population towards the north and south need protection and restorative management to maintain and enhance the value of this source for the larger landscape.

BNHS Mobile Education Unit and SLTP

In 2005, BNHS with support from Born Free Foundation stared Mobile Education Unit (MEU) as a part of SLTP. Since 2005, MEU is working in the villages surrounding three protected areas namely Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), Pench National Park in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Table no. 1 provide the details about the school activities. Besides these, training of youth groups, tour guides, teachers, forest officers and rangers, local communities, women self help groups etc were also regular feature of MEU.

Table 1. Summary of the attendance for school-based outreach programmes

Year

TATR

Pench (MS)

Pench (MP)

Total

 

Programmes

Students

Programmes

Students

Programmes

Students

Programmes

Students

2005/06

43

1952

25

1364

5

700

73

4016

2006/07

89

8757

50

5750

12

847

151

15354

2007/08

95

4717

56

3183

62

3321

213

11212

2008/09

104

3978

62

2476

35

3108

201

9562

Total

331

19404

193

12773

114

7976

638

40144

Year wise activities of Education Mobile Education Unit

Activities

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

Youth Camps

 

 

3 - Pench

4 -TATR

 

4 - Pench

8 - TATR

 

5 - Pench

6 -TATR

 

5 - Pench

8  - TATR

 

5- Pench

7- TATR

Women Camps

2 - Pench

3- TATR

6 - Pench

7 - TATR

8 - Pench

7 -TATR

9 - Pench

10 -TATR

5 - Pench

9 -TATR

Guide or Field staff training

 

---

3 - Pench

2 -TATR

 

3 - Pench

3 - TATR

2 - Nagzira

2 - Bor WLS

3 - Pench

3 -TATR

1 - Melghat

2 - Bor Ws

3 - Pench

3 - TATR

 

Why engage community: First, conservation must be linked with development. Protected areas cannot be separated from their social, economic and political contexts, and they cannot survive indefinitely in a sea of human need. Second, when communities derive economic benefits from a resource, they become predisposed to participate in protection of that resource.

Mobile Education Unit is working on following four focal areas besides environmental education

1. Study of Corridors around Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR): Conservation of Tiger will not only require the management of  core and the buffer areas but it will also be the necessary to maintain connectivity to other core areas for ensuring gene flow as an ecological requirement for long term survival of the species. Therefore, it will be necessary to identify these areas of connectivity /corridors between two source populations. Infact management of these critical areas will be as important as the core areas.

In most of the cases such areas will be under traditional forestry practices and other land uses. These areas will also the under tremendous pressures due to habitations and human activities. Therefore in such areas the existing management practices will have to be modified so as to upgrade and maintain the ecological status of the connectivity/corridors. Obviously the agenda of co-existence will have to be implemented for such areas with a focus on the wildlife habitat parameters and the livelihoods/developmental needs of the local communities. Role of the local communities, government agencies and other stakeholders will be extremely important for the management of such areas.

BNHS Mobile Education Unit under Satpuda Landscape Tiger Conservation Programme (SLTP) aims to work in the forest areas beyond buffer of TATR. There are four major corridors such as i) Bramhapuri & Nagpur Division; ii) Chandrapur & Bramhapuri; iii) Bramhapuri Division & Wadsa Division; and iv) Central Chanda Division & Allapalli. These corridors are the parts of Chandrapur and Gadchiroli district, the south east part of the State of Maharashtra. The area includes part of North Chandrapur and South Chandrapur territorial circles and also parts of North and South F.D.C.M. circles (Regions).

2. Bamboo Craft as sustainable livelihood: In TATR periphery (notified buffer) bamboo is used as livelihood option in many villages. Our survey in TATR clearly reveals that all the healthy bamboo from fringe areas has completely vanished. Thus villagers ventures in the core areas of TATR which has led to serious confrontations with enforcements agencies and also issues related to man-animal conflicts. Most of the villagers used bamboo for making baskets, mats, bamboo fence etc. The bamboo is collected from core as well as buffer area of Tiger Reserve. Out of 89 villages in the buffer area 40% villages used bamboo for their livelihood option. In some village 100% families used bamboo for their livelihood. None of the families used bamboo for handicrafts.

Unless the alternatives are provided, this seems to be an ongoing issue. Thus if we could encourage locals for bamboo afforestation along the agricultural fields, this can help reduce bamboo harvesting from forest by these people. This has multiple benefits; reduced man-animal conflict; reduced management issues with enforcement agencies etc. If we could develop value added economy from bamboo waste, this will further encourage locals to support conservation. BNHS in the past tried to use bamboo waste to make greeting cards. This has tremendous potential. However, this needs product branding and marketing along with formation of self help groups.

MEU is trying to make difference through following initiatives.

a)    Establish a dialogue between respective government agencies and local community

b)    Undertake alternate bamboo plantation through community participation

c)    Training programmes for bamboo crafts to enhance economic incentives for supporting conservation

3. Training of Eco Guides and field staff: The aim of this programme is to improve the knowledge of nature & communication skills of the local guides so that they would be confident while guiding tourists around the Tiger Reserve and Sanctuaries, at the same time conveying important conservation message.

At every park it is now mandatory to have eco guide with tourists. These guides are local people from the periphery of the park. This provides us an opportunity to train them professionally in to skills useful for conservation. However, to upgrade knowledge routine training is required to them. From last four your MEU is arranging training intermittently. However, having a continuous ongoing programme will not only help up-gradation of skills, it will also allow us keep an eye on illegal activities inside PA’s.

4. Biogas revitalization: During 1998-1999 Biogas installation was done in Kolsa, Tadoba and Moharli ranges by the state govrnment. To know present situation of biogas in village, MEU conducted bio gas survey and come to conclusion that 61 % biogas plants are non-functional out of total 101 biogas plant.

Why revive Biogas? Each family uses 4 bullock cart wood i.e. (400 kg. per cart). That means 1600 kg wood/year. All the wood is collected either with in TATR or on fringe reserve forests. Thus revival of biogas will help reduce dependency of locals on wood from forests. There are other benefits of the same such as

a) Reduced man-animal conflict

b) Reduced health issues for women specially lung disorders

c) Saving valuable time of women from fire wood collection (which is mainly done by women and children). This time thus could be devoted to educating children

Since 2009 with support from Born Free and RPS Energy, MEU revived 80 biogas units.