Saturday, June 5

Who is responsible for the vanishing of Panna Genes from the face of the earth?

Mr. Jairam Ramesh
Minister of State (Independent Charge)
Ministry of Environment and Forests

Sub- Dr H.S Pabla appointment in Madhya Pradesh as the Principal Chief Conservator (Wildlife) Madhya Pradesh.

Dear Sir,

5th June 2010 will always be remembered as a black day in the history of India. The Person who has been named as the offender in the Panna Committee report headed by Mr. P K Sen is being promoted, supported and guarded in Madhya Pradesh. He is responsible for the vanishing of Panna genes in the world!

I would like to take you back to the year 2001.

From 2001 April to March 2009 different Field Directors have given priority to different things forgetting the basics of management of tiger reserve that security was the most important item as Panna Tiger Reserve is surrounded by large number of villages indulging in poaching.

Rampant poaching and total “denial for the past eight years” have led to the extinction of tigers in Panna .”Central investigation has revealed”. The state government Headed by Dr H S Pabla denied any crisis even as tigers were regularly being poached for eight years between 2002 and 2009, an extensive report prepared by a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests also found out.

The SIT was constituted to investigate the extinction of tigers from Panna which till 2007 held at least 24 tigers.

The SERIES of warnings by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), independent scientists , activists and NGOs were deliberately ignored between 2002 and 2008 as Madhya Pradesh concentrated on ‘tourism and welfare’ and senior officials looked the other way, says the report.

It was Dr HS Pabla who sent a letter for making Hunting as legal!

A string of warnings, given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), independent scientists and NGOs were ignored between 2002 and 2008 as Madhya Pradesh concentrated on ‘tourism and welfare’ and senior officials looked the other way, says the report.

The report says that the team felt that Panna was a very special case because the management received so many cautions and warning letters from different agencies. It has been observed by the team that Government of Madhya Pradesh was always in a denial mode that there was crisis in Panna. Dr H S Pabla having vested interests never agreed to what experst said about the shrinking population of the tigers in Panna..

“The advisories/guidelines and red alerts on protection and monitoring protocols issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), time and again, were not followed in action and spirit. Even newspaper warnings were ignored,” it says. The Indian Express had reported in March this year that there were no tigers left in Panna, which the MP Forest Department denied.

You will be surprised to know that the team said that ‘intelligence-gathering was never important’ for Panna tiger reserve and the failure was from the highest level. For the investigation, field directors between 2002 and 2009 were questioned and MP police poaching records were accessed. For the same period, the report says, “Senior officers of the rank of PCCF and Chief Wildlife Warden and Additional PCCF Wildlife visited the reserve number of times. Nowhere in their tour report has it been mentioned that the reserve was facing problems which could be a cause of disappearance of tiger. The Principal Secretary Forest was least concerned about tigers in the reserve. The entire department in Bhopal was busy corresponding with scientists, individuals, NGOs and even members of the CEC denying facts even without verification. Mr. Avni Vaisha, Dr H S Pabla and Mr. Bandopadhya today are enjoying the patronage of the Government on the expense of tax payers money.

This is a situation much worse than Sariska,” P K Sen, former Director, Project Tiger and a member of the team mentioned to media. In Sariska, the tigers were lost mostly over one year. The Panna crisis is unprecedented as the negligence went on for eight whole years. In 2001, tiger scientist Raghu Chundawat said that a tiger he had collared was suddenly gone. His plea was dismissed by the state. Infact the whole administration went campaigning against him and his founding although the truth is out now. MP has perfected the art of denial since a decade. If the state could not handle the reserve, the department should have acknowledged this. The way forward is simple. Unless you admit there is a problem, you can’t find the solution. Bu the insensinsitive babuls were not bothered and the Politicians knew the Tigers do not vote.

The other members of the team were: Qamar Qureshi, Scientist, Wildlife Institute of India, Chaturbhuja Behera, Regional Deputy Director, Jabalupur, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, and S. P. Yadav, DIG, National Tiger Conservation Authority (Member Convener).

Its is National shame and disgrace ! It is worst than Sariska Episode. It is tragic and painful to read everyday negative stories about world's largest cats tigers in Indian forests. Tigers are not safe in So-called protected areas. Hang all the corrupted forest officials and Poachers. They are anti-nationals. They are killing Indian tigers for Chinese medicine. Hang them all !

The sorry state of shrinking numbers of tigers in India shows apathy of Indian government which cannot protect citizens leave alone tigers.If we want to protect our tigers let's give all the remaining tigers to poor African countries or Iran who, though are poor have the means and will to protect this magnificent and handsome species. Also don't forget to cancel name of tiger as the national animal of India as we are shamefully and disgustingly incapable of protecting the sanctity of their habitat.

Totally wastage of tax payers money, we punish, a employee, of pvt. cos., because of his inefficiency, who will punish these corrupted govt. officials, bring criminal charges against them for being a traitor, they are more dangerous than terrorists, who are like termites preying on nations resources, even their pensions should also not be paid, either govt. should privatize this, or dissolve the whole wild life projects, and stop wasting govt. funds.

What has happened has happened. There is however no mention of who were the poachers. Both the poachers and the senior officers who sem to have shielded them should be caught and brought to book. I think the centre should take this matter very seriously and use intelligence agencies to identify the network of those trading in tiger skins etc. Some big names would be involved I am sure but the Minister of Environment and Forests should be strong enough to pursue this caes to the end. Its high time now.

Details for your perusal.

Central Empowered Committee.

When the situation started getting out of hand, they scurried into action and relocated two female tigers to Panna.

The Tiger Study which says-

Panna Tiger Reserve comprises Dry Tropical Forest, which is the largest tiger habitat in India. Unfortunately it is in this habitat that tigers are most vulnerable and are disappearing at a much faster rate than in any other habitats.

The Tiger Research Project in the Panna Tiger Reserve, undertaken by Dr. R.S. Chundawat, was the only study on the ecology of tiger in a Dry Tropical Forest.
The Tiger Research Project is still the only long-term study on tigers in three decades of tiger conservation history of India.

The research in Panna Tiger Reserve was started as a Wildlife Institute of India project in October 1995 and later continued independently with Government approval and all the required permissions.

R S Chundawat

A responsive management: Early lessons

The first tiger was radio-collared in April 1996 – a female who died in the monsoon of the same year. Her dead body was recovered near a cattle kill.

This alerted management to the possibility of poisoning and they took necessary action. Since then every cattle kill was immediately investigated.

Elephants were regularly provided to the research team to locate and monitor radio collared tigers. Every kill was located and monitored with the help of the elephant. Management also assisted the research team in monitoring some of the key areas outside the park that were frequently visited by the tigers.

Early in the study (1996), a very low density of 2-3 tigers/100 km2 was estimated for the core area.

In 2002 the estimation of tiger population by using camera traps, documented one of the finest recoveries of a tiger population in recent history. It estimated a density of almost 7 tigers/100 km2. This was mainly due to good park protection and management combined with the constant monitoring of breeding females and the high survival rate of cubs.

During the period 1996 to 2001, eight litters were produced which accounted for 22 cubs; only two mortalities were recorded during this period.

This intensive monitoring continued up to 2001.

A Wealth of Information

A total of seven tigers (two males and five females) as well as five sambar and two chital were radio-collared and monitored.

Radio-tracking of these tigers amounts to over 41 tiger years of total monitoring.
If observation and monitoring of all tigers, including cubs and non radio-collared tigers are put together it amounts to an astonishing 95 tiger years of monitoring.

The team was able to observe and monitor for extended periods eight breeding females, five adult male tigers and over 14 litters (over 31 cubs) from these known breeding tigresses.
In addition to this, five sambar and two chital were also radio-collared to learn more about the tiger prey.

A detailed monitoring system for tiger and its prey was established.
An intensive and reliable prey monitoring system was established in the Tiger Reserve by the research team.

Using advance remote camera a monitoring system for tigers, common leopard and hyena populations was established in the Reserve and two censuses were conducted in 2002 and 2003.

Local research assistants were trained in conducting prey and tiger census.
People’s suggestion invited on Panna Tiger Reserve.

The Madhya Pradesh Government constituted an expert committee to go into the “dwindling number” of tigers in Panna Tiger Reserve. Till date its has not been tabled. I took out the report through RTI Act 2005 on Feb 16th 2010.

THE CULPRITS – Mr. Avni Vaisha, Dr H S Pabla and Mr. Bandopadhya are enjoying the patronage of the Government.

Sad Saga.

July 2005

Poacher is nabbed at Chhatarpur Mohd. Rais is arrested at Chhatarpur (a town close to the Panna Tiger Reserve) in July 2005. In his statement to the police he admits to trading in eight. He also said that these mostly came from Panna forests.

Supreme Court asks for fresh assessment using camera trap. Supreme Court asks the M.P. forest department to conduct another assessment using camera traps.Census was conducted in early 2006.

May 2006.

Another Tigress with two cubs dies from poisoning during the census operation. Forensic report confirms poisoning.

October 2008.

Recognising the Panna tiger population as “alarmingly low”, Tiger Conservation Authority Member Secretary requests urgent action from the Field Director to improve protection and “secure” the park; he further requests cameratraps be deployed “at the earliest” with assistance of the Wildlife Institute of India.

December 2008.

Brainstorming Meeting is organized hurriedly at Khajuraho. As situation in Panna becomes desperate, with no signs of tiger in the park in Oct/Nov 2008.

January 2009.

Third assessment by WII. It is once again (for the third time) asked to assess the tiger population. Their interim report finds no camera captures of tigers in the Reserve. A larger team is sent with fifty cameras distributed extensively. The final report is yet to be submitted.

March 2009.

Two tigresses are moved to Panna. One tigress is brought at night by road from Bandhavgarh and one, midst protests, is flown from Kanha. There is no longer a male left in the Park. The State authorities have now requested permission to translocate a male too. However the Ministry of Environment and Forest has asked to explain what has happened to all the males that were claimed to be still there.

April 2009.

MoEF constitutes a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the disappearance of tigers in Panna. Their interim investigations confirm that no tigers remain in Panna and this is made public. The last tiger evidence – pugmarks of the remaining male – were seen in Panna in-mid January 2009. The tigers of Panna are no more; even the management cannot make zero equal 35. The warnings were unheeded and the predictions were fulfilled— Sariska II is with us.

Despite grave warnings, the Madhya Pradesh Forest department and its officials manning the Wildlife Management wing, found no alarming signs in Panna and failed to act in time. The Tiger Research Project concluded that there was loss of tigers at an alarming rate; widespread and increased poaching of tiger prey; felling, uprooting and burning of thousands of trees along the roads to create view line for tourists; extensive burning of forest; removal of important browse species; burning of excessively wide fire lines, reckless quarrying and removal of sandstone blocks for departmental construction work causing extensive damage to river beds in core areas of the park; damage to wildlife habitat by elephant; and death and injuries caused to wild animals by barbed wire and chain link fence near the Park boundary.

The money bungling. of the Tax payers

A whopping sum of Rs 2,774.699 lakh was spent between 2007 and 2009 for tiger conservation in Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR), but the big cat population declined and came to zero in the reserve by 2009.where was this money spent? Following reports of the Panna being zero of tiger population in 2009, the WII again carried a camera trap census. Following that, in April 2009, the special investigation team of the Centre declared that there was no tiger in the reserve. Before 2006, the tiger census were carried out by pug mark methodology annually and according to it there were 25, 28, 31, 33, 33, 34 and 35 tigers in Panna in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively.

The State Forest department and Wildlife authorities have several questions to answer. The burning question is: What action was taken regarding the violations of the Supreme Court orders and Wildlife Protection Act by the Park management in the Panna Tiger Reserve after the report submitted by the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court?

The Park management is in the dock for cutting and digging roots of thousands of trees on either side of the tourist roads, burning of large tracts of forest and in the process destroying important wildlife habitats, illegal sand stone mining by the department itself inside the National Park for use in departmental construction works, destruction of important grassland by removal of “ber” (an important browse species), creating large water bodies, construction of forest chowki in the middle of the grassland, and poaching of tigers and its prey species.

The Central Empowered Committee also found management responsible for damaging the Park’s habitat and for taking up large-scale construction activity without prior permission of the Supreme Court. It also took serious note of the “general apathy of the senior officials”. Panna is showed signs of Sariska but the insensititive authorities never paid heed to the signals, letters, research and finally the Panna lost all its Tigers.

The present Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Mr. Avni Vaish was Principal Secretary of the Forest Department Madhya Pradesh, Mr P B Gangopadhya- is on deputation in Delhi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Madhya Pradesh Dr. H.S. Pabla was removed from the post and was sent in the working plan, Dr P B Gangopadhya was sent to Delhi on deputation after the fiasco. All the three names are as culprits in the committee report.

Today the persons responsible for the fiasco are being promoted and enjoying the benefits on the public expense and at the cost of the Tigers in Madhya Pradesh. We need accountability on Panna Genocide.

We want an immediate action!

And if accurate it shows at the minimum and tremendous lack of either concern or management... or both. And that’s a "best case" evaluation. At worst... it shows actual illegal culpability.

5th june will always be remembered as a black day in the History of India.

“Considering your own duty too, you ought not to hesitate, for there is no better engagement that exists (for a Kshatriya) than fighting for righteousness” - The Bhagavat Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 31.

Do not cut down the forest with its tigers and do not banish the tigers from the forest; the tiger perishes without the forest and the forest perishes without its tigers” - Mahabharata, 400 BCE, Udyogaparva.

Who is responsible for the loss of Panna Genes form the face of the earth? What does the so called Expert committee says on the decimation of the Tigers in the Madhya Pradesh State? What does the Sit report says? Who are to be blamed? Factors behind the Tigers debacle in Panna? Panna and the story of Denial. What is Panna Conspiracy?

Shehla Masood

Udai Society

I will make sure Madhya Pradesh Remains a Tiger State.

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