Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jogi Comes....
On a pleasant evening, we were sitting at Gurjar ki thaddi [a Gurjar community man’s tea stall], Sherpur tiraya, sitting near us was a man whom I can best describe having moustaches like FSR, a huge but firm belly like that of Kala Sahib, as tall as DK, piercing eyes like Collin’s, he spoke non-stop, enchantingly; with people listening to every word like drops of sacred knowledge.. . Just like GSR’s talks and he had a jovial manner reminding me of Dicky singh.
He wore a Sadhu’s chola [Hermit dress], he came towards us, we thought he was a needy and offered him some money, but he refused and instead introduced himself ‘Hello dear friend, I am Jogi of the Jogi Mahal of Ranthambhore National Park’, I do not need any money, I come to you because I want you to make the recent incidences of the park reach to the people’. He said ‘I take people’s help as I, directly cannot reach the masses’.
And so today, I am here writing on behalf of Jogi...
The blog is not intended to offend any person or department. As you will go through it you will realise this blog is a concoction of fiction, reality and author’s personal thoughts. 

Jogi’s Home: Jogi Mahal, a monument in Ranthambhore National Park
Sad end of the glorious Berda Tigress
Jogi started with the Berda tigress’s tale, he described the Berda tigress as the real wild ferocious tigress of Ranthambhore National Park [RNP], with a beautiful glowing coat and her mesmerising grace would leave you in awe, the youthful tigress aged 5+ years had just delivered her first litter.

Berda Tigress
She and her two beautiful cubs were settled in zone 4 of the park. In her motherly care & supervision her 19 month old cubs had grown even bigger then her, she was very fearlessly bringing them up. 

The male cub of Berda female
Jogi asked me to visualize the incident and the story enfolding in front of me…
One day she was spotted injured by a tourist guide Nafis and the Forest Department [FD] were informed about the injured tigress. The DFO sprang into action, he asked to arrange for three things first.. .
1) A pada [young buffalo calf], 2) a canter filled with fire wood, 3) a team; comprising of a WII person, a doctor, the ranger of that range and some forest guards.
Suddenly somebody meekly voiced ‘Sir, we don’t have a veterinary doctor in the department’, the DFO said ‘Oh! But we need a doctor anyhow, as we have to complete the quorum’, seeing his resolute one guard suggested him with a goat and cattle treating doctor living in his neighbourhood. And there they called the Doctor who was inexperienced in wildlife medicine...
This doctor is a simple man; he received the phone call from the DFO asking ‘Doctor sahib, do you have any Tiger experience?’ the Doctor answered ‘Yes, I have done post-mortem of 2 dead cattle who were killed by a tiger!’ on this, the DFO said ‘Oh! You are so well qualified doctor! Come over we have to treat a Tiger now!’
The moment he heard this, the poor veterinary doctor thought he had given the most erroneous answer of his life and he should not have said this at all. Just then he received another phone call, this was from the district collector’s office ‘Doctor Sahib, you have to go to treat the tiger...’ In a small place nobody declines the District Collector’s order.
The DFO’s honking vehicle forced the doctor to leave the house with a heavy heart.
In moments, the DFO flew his vehicle in jet speed and arrived in Bakola, where the injured tigress laid. After reaching the site the DFO remembered ‘Oops! Nobody is here from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII)...Find out where is Peter.’ [Peter is a genuine Wildlife Researcher]
Peter was on field and hence was out of range on his cell phone. He then said to find the whereabouts of the WII guy researching on wild boars; one of the perplexed ranger asked ‘Sir, how will wild boar researcher help for tiger’s treatment?’ the DFO said, ‘As a rule we need a WII person’. Sadly even he was not available... Now, with no other WII personnel left to fill the spot the rule follower DFO ordered somebody to get the WII vehicle and the WII driver to be present on the spot where the tiger was being treated.
Jogi asked me to imagine the scenario. It was deep jungle, one side rested the injured but conscious tigress, other side the Doctor sitting in the DFO’s vehicle chanting prayers, WII vehicle parked with the WII driver standing near it, the ranger of Kundera and next to him was the ranger of Sawai Madhopur Range. Both arguing in hush hush voices that the tigress was not from either’s range...
The DFO taking the attendance; DFO in loud voice, ‘Ranger of Kundera?’, answer ‘Yes sir!’
DFO calling out in louder voice ‘Ranger Sawai Madhopur’, the Ranger in sharp attentive voice ‘Yes sir’.
DFO said ‘WII’... the WII vehicle driver said ‘Yes sir and present with the WII gypsy ’.
Now the DFO asked, ‘Veterinary Doctor’. There was no answer. One of the forest guards close to the doctor held his hand and raised it in the air shouting in ear-splitting voice ‘Present sir!’
DFO now satisfied; said, ‘quorum complete’ Start the treatment... there was no movement, no action...
DFO commanded ‘Doctor, start the treatment’. From his thick glasses one could clearly see the doctor’s tiny eyes looking huge and swollen with fear.. .sweating profusely he asked ‘ME???’
DFO said, ‘Yes, Do not worry, I am with you; now start off’ the surprised doctor said ‘Sir, I have not even seen a tiger in real life in spite of visiting park, how do I treat it?’
DFO said ‘I see, we shall make you and your family see many tigers next time you visit the park, now start the treatment. I will help you with the procedure’, he asked the doctor ‘Doctor, what experience do you have in large mammals’ the doctor replied, ‘I know how to give medicines to cattle’ the DFO said ‘Ah! Fine, then get that pada [buffalo calf] I had ordered and let the doctor give the medicine to it, the tiger will kill and eat it, and get cured’. The doctor happy that he would not have to treat the tiger directly; without any arguments gave a huge injection to the buffalo calf and the guards of the forest tied the calf near a tree and returned to the forest office.
DFO on return to office asked the doctor what injection did he give to the calf? The doctor self contained and happy to be alive answered ‘I have injected steroids, a little extra dose so that the loss of transfer from bait to tiger is covered.’
The wildlife trained ranger of Sawai Madhopur range asked ‘Doctor Sahib, Why did you give steroids to the cattle... will it not get charged and injure the tiger? The slightly baffled doctor replied that he carried just one injection with him and didn’t know any other medicine to give to tiger, the steroid will give push to the injured animal and it should help.
 The next day they found the tigress dead in the woods....with no sight of the buffalo calf around!
One ranger commented ‘Hope that the buffalo calf didn’t get extra strength and ended up injuring the tigress?
The DFO in grim tone said ‘I knew this would happen, anyway we did our best…’ and immediately he called upon the canter filled with fire woods that he had got arranged along with the doctors arrangements the previous day. They set the cremation ceremony inside the park, after the formality of a post mortem. That day the sun set upon the beautiful Berda Tigress.

The story might be exaggerated; it might even be completely fictional however few questions still stand there, which make us ponder about the Forest Department’s draw backs in the Berda Tigress’s death. What are these questions?
Why is there no veterinary team in the Forest Department?
1)     Ranthambhore doesn’t have any Wildlife veterinary doctor. In the past two years at least 10 big cats have suffered such incidents, there is no Wildlife trained veterinary doctor in a prime tiger reserve like Ranthambhore.

Another recent example: T24, a male tiger having some mysterious injury in his leg was under treatment by the same veterinary doctor’s. The news published in a Hindi local paper as below. 

(Translation from the Hindi daily 'Rajasthan Patrika' April, 27 2009 - King of the jungle runs away from stretcher: The Chidi Kho male of Sawai Mansingh sanctuary had leg injury. The tiger was given medicine to stay sedated but was given low doses, it came to consciousness half way during the treatment and roaring loudly, escaped from the stretcher leaving the forest officials and doctor in fearsome state.)
2)     There is no facility to keep injured wild animal in captivity during treatment.
3)      When a tiger/ leopard dies, its post mortem is conducted in a hurry and in really pathetic conditions and never is any media, independent researcher or NGO called in hence there is zero transparency in the entire procedure. The forest officials’ hurry to criminate the big cat as soon as possible before it reaches the public eye just to hide the real facts?
4)     No protocols for post mortem of dead animal are being followed. 

Post mortem of a dead leopard inside the jungle, to keep away media and conservationists from asking questions.

However, after the death of Berda tigress, her voice reached National Tiger Conservation Authority [NTCA] and this Berda tigress has changed things. The post mortem procedures will be more transparent now... thanks to NTCA.

Dr. Rajesh Gopal
Member Secretary

No.PS-MS(NTCA)2009-Misces                                   Dated April 22, 2009

     Field Director
     (All Tiger Reserves)

Subject: Post-mortem protocol for ensuring transparency in cases relating to    tiger mortality

         As you are aware, a detailed advisory containing post-mortem format has already been issued from this end for carrying out post-mortem of wild animal carcasses found inside tiger reserves. It is hoped that the said advisory is being followed meticulously in the interest of tiger conservation. However, time and again, due to rapid disposal of tiger carcasses by burning, criticism is being received from several quarters.
2.       In this context the following actions are advised in addition to the earlier advisory invogue:
           (i)   All tiger carcasses should be preserved in deep freeze until an                independent team analyses the cause of death.
           (ii)  Every incident of tiger mortality should be thoroughly examined by an independent team whose composition is as below:
                 (a) an authorized representative of the NTCA
                 (b) A veterinary officer of the tiger reserve/district
                 © a non-governmental outside expert nominated by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State.
           (iii) As directed earlier, every incident of tiger mortality should be brought to the notice of the NTCA by telephone/fax, followed by a detailed post-mortem report in the prescribed format along with the report of the independent team.

Funding support for procuring a deep freeze for the body size of a tiger, its generator along with related accessories would be provided under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger based on the proposals contained in the APO
          The above additional directives would ensure minimum errors in the post-mortem process, while making it transparent.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Rajesh Gopal
IGF & Member Secretary (NTCA)

The scanned copy of NTCA letter

After the death of his mother the Berda cub looks forward with hope

The NTCA directives which have been enforced will prove to be an important decision due to which facts will now be in black and white after the death of a tiger.