Monday, June 8, 2009


(This story is about the relocation of tigers to Sariska, the inbreeding chances in tigers of Sariska and a different perspective of one of India’s biggest Wildlife Conservation drama’s ….)

NDTV ran ''Save the Tiger'' campaign and for a talk show they invited a panel of wildlife experts and Jogi to come in an open forum, in the NDTV discussion room...

This panel consisted of a WII expert, a NTCA representative and Chief wildlife warden (CWLW) of Rajasthan along with Mr. Jogi.

The room had a long table with the 4 experts sitting on one side, the NDTV reporter sitting on a side desk and a group of audience sitting in stalls in the front where I too sat as a spectator.

The NDTV reporter directed a question towards the NTCA expert, ‘Please tell us how many tiger reserves are there in India?’

The mike was pointed at the NTCA expert but the answer came from the side, it was our Jogi replying, ‘I don’t know how many tiger reserves are there now, they keep declaring new once every day. However I do know which tiger reserves are without any tigers.’

The reporter gave a sly smile on Jogi’s reply and went on to ask the next question to the WII expert, ‘What is Inbreeding?

The WII scientist was about to answer before that the CWLW said to Jogi, ‘Now answer this Jogiji do you know about inbreeding?’

The Chief Wildlife Warden continued further, ‘I want to say this Jogi can only see construction in park, corruption in officers and the loop holes in my department. He is just a critique with no knowledge of wildlife or its conservation whatsoever.’

Jogi smiled serenely....looking at the serenity on his face the Chief Wildlife Warden’s face was turning redder and redder’

The Chief Wildlife Warden asked again, ‘Ok as the reporter sahib is asking, now answer what is inbreeding?’

Now Jogi started looking here and there, by the look on his face i could guess Jogi was brewing some wicked thoughts…

Some spectator hinted, ‘Jogiji it is the breeding in a small population’

On hearing this, Mr. Jogi started off...

‘Oh yes! Recently 2 tigresses were shifted from Ranthambhore to Sariska both were from the same mother and the same father. Mother Machali II and father Male X.

Mother - Machali II Tigress

Father - Male X

Machali II's Litter - The last three litter fathered by Male X

A little about Machali - Machali is a beautiful tigress she was named so because of the 'fish' like marking on her face. The real Machali suddenly vanished one day and from that day onwards a group of film makers filming her started calling a tigress Machali, we call her Machali II here.

Machali II is an equally beautiful tigress. But this tigress doesn't posses the fish-like markings. Machali II is about 13 - 14 year old today. The above are her litter's. Machali II is the most photographed and filmed tigress possibly in history! As per TOFT( ) she is the most revenue earning tigress forRanthambhore National Park!

More than economical significance her ecological significance is far greater, due to her two offspring’s Sariska is alive again! Machali has given birth to 9 tigers till date. Out of 9, three died. Of the 6 living today 2 tigresses are shifted to Sariska and 4 are in Ranthambhore.

Babli Tigress AKA T1 - Shifted to Sariska

T18 Tigress (Shifted to Sariska) with Mother Machali II

One of the spectators, a teenager sitting in the studio stall stood up and said. ‘Arrrey Jogi baba it’s not like that!’

Jogi looked at him and winked, he said, ‘the CWLW and WII experts know all theories of inbreeding but I am sure they are not aware about the practical’s’

Jogi said to the child, ‘Beta please give some bookish gyan to explain to all.’

What is Inbreeding?

In general, an organism with two parents has two versions of every gene – one maternal and one paternal. These different flavors of a gene are called alleles. (A,a)

If the maternal and paternal alleles differ, one of them usually dominates, conferring all of its qualities to the offspring. The other, silenced allele is called “recessive.”

Inbreeding depression is thought to be a result of harmful pattern of inherited genes.

Inbreeding depression is thought to be caused primarily by the collection of a multitude of harmful mutations, few in themselves fatal, but all diminishing fitness.

Normally, in an outbreeding population these alleles would be selected against, hidden, or corrected by the presence of good alleles (versions of genes) in the population.

Sexual reproduction and the shuffling of alleles of genes occur when two unrelated individuals mate.

When that shuffling can't happen because both parents already have mostly the same alleles, the result will be inbreeding depression, if not in a given litter, then in a few more generations of such breeding.

Genes associated with inbreeding depression could be grouped into three broad categories of function: those involved in metabolism, stress, and defense.

Result of inbreeding:

o Elevated incidence of recessive genetic diseases

o Reduced fertility both in litter size and in sperm viability

o Increased congenital defects such as cryptorchidism, heart defects, and cleft palates.

o Fluctuating asymmetry (such as crooked faces, or uneven eye placement and size).

o Lower birth weight

o Higher neonatal mortality

o Slower growth rate

o Smaller adult size, and

o Loss of immune system function.

Animal biology professor Ken Paige who has conducted extensive study on Inbreeding Depression said, the best approach is to try to preserve and maintain genetic diversity in natural populations well before they begin their slide into an “extinction vortex.”

After this explaination Jogi said, ‘But I still feel that inbreeding must be good for keeping pure genes, as the selection of tigers for translocation to Sariska was all done in the direction of our dear Chief Wildlife Warden Sahib and with affirmation from the WII expert who is responsible for the selection of tigers from Ranthambhore national Park. ’

Now the CWLW didn’t know where to look!

After all the tigers being wiped out from Sariska Tiger Reserve (Read more Rajasthan Forest Department shifted three tigers from Ranthambhore National Park to Sariska Tiger Reserve. A young male tiger T10 and female tigresses T1 aka Babli and T18. The two females were from the same mother Machali II with father Male X and possibly T10 also had the same father. Some guards from Dhundarmal ka Darra and Ananthpura reported that that Male X resided in the territory of T10's mother.

2 major population decline reports have been reported in Ranthambhore in the past 15 years. The latest population decline happened between 2002 and 2005. In 2005, ultimately just two males had survived Male X and Jhumroo. Jhumroo is son of tigress Machali II and male X is father of Babli and T18 and possibly of the T10 male as well because T10 shared the same territory as male X.

Male X has been filmed along with Bunti and Babli and T17, T18 and T19, only a father of cubs would do this act and not any outside male.

Chief Wildlife Warden intervened and said ‘this is not an authentic report.’

Jogi replied, ‘Sahib you have proved many times how authentic and learned you are. Your tiger relocation plan loopholes are out here. You have sent siblings to Sariska.

You expect that there will be gene diversity in the next generation of tigers in Sariska? And you are questioning me about Inbreeding? If you understood so much then you could have tried sending tigers of different parentage and not kins.’

Please also be reminded of the letter sent to you by NTCA Ref: No. PS- MS (NTCA)/2008– Miscle. Dated 3rd November 2008. Which said, ‘Under no circumstances tigresses residing within the RanthambhoreNational Park area should be translocated to Sariska, since this is bound to disturb the existing land tenure/ sociology of resident tigers. However, there may be no risk in translocating non-encumbered tigresses dispersing to prey deficient areas of keladevi or Mansingh sanctuaries, as established by field observations.

Followed by this letter on the 4th November 2008 again a letter was addressed to you by the NTCA, Letter Ref: No. PS- MS (NTCA)/ 2008 – Miscle. which said, Further to the correspondence cited above, please ensure that no chemical immobilization of tigers for translocating to Sariska, should be done within the boundary of RNP. The officers and field staff may please be directed for strictly adhering to this advisory.

'Also Mr. Chief Wildlife Warden, you picked the third tigress from Gudha area of the forest which is part of Ranthambhore National Park. While, since a year a tigress has strayed in Keladevi Sanctuary killing cattle’s and is possibly in the bad eyes of the villagers who can poison her anytime with the inadequate monitoring that your department is providing for her protection.’

Jogi snapped, 'The WII scientist are equally responsible for all this as they have not given the required time for searching the tigers.'

The WII scientist panicked and came to his defence, ‘What were we suppose to do when the helicopter was standing on our head and we were supposed to send a tiger within that time! What came in front of us we just picked it up…!’

'However this is an isolated population and nearest tiger population is 700- 800 Km away from here. Inbreeding is going to occur in such a place, so Jogi why are you pointing all the knives and guns at us and getting so emotional about things? Ranthambhore is a TCU level III conservation unit...and according to scientific data there are no chances of tigers surviving here anyway.'

In year 1999, Wikramanayake E. D et al. created a framework for identifying the High-priority areas for the conservation of tigers in the wild in the future.

Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) is an ecology based method for defining priorities for tiger conservation. It is to facilitate the best use of limited conservation resources. Based on several parameters they formulated the TCU levels I, II and III. Some of them are: Tiger habitat size, Habitat degradation degree, Fragmentation, Connectivity to other tiger habitat, Poaching, and Tiger population status.

TCU level I receiving the maximum priority and III with minimum priority.

Ranthambhore is Level III Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU), The nearest tiger reserves are Corbett, Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Panna all of which are about 700- 800 km away from Ranthambhore. Hence new genes arrival chances are very bleak.

NDTV spokesman asked if this is TCU level III conservation unit...then should the conservation work be stopped over here? If there are no chances of tigers surviving here.

Jogi said, ‘Beta, this TCU research in terms of ecological factors is correct but in tiger conservation many other factors play a role.In a nation like India, politics is the major factor. One example is Simlipal, which is put as level I tiger conservation unit but that is in hands of naxalites and the local tribal’s have activities like 'Akhand shikar'.. .

Jogi said, 'I shall tell you few things about Ranthambhore after which you can decide in which level TCU should Ranthambhore be placed.'

  1. Hope for the Aravali landscape: there was a time when many areas of Aravali was populated with tigers. Today tiger habitat has shriveled and confided to Ranthambhore. Four other protected area’s future is connected with Ranthambhore National Park. Viz. Sariska Tiger Reserve, Ramgarh Bishdhari Sanctuary, Keladevi Sanctuary and of course Sawai Mansingh Sanctuary because other areas do not have tigers but are connected to Ranthambhore from where the tigers move in and out to these areas, Sariska is not connected but the tigers shifted to Sariska were Ranthambhore residents
  2. Ecologically significant area: If there is Siberian tiger living in minus 45° Celsius there is Royal Bengal tiger living in Ranthambhore’s 45° Celsius. Similarly, on one end if there is Naam Dapha which is a rain forest on other end there is Ranthambhore like dry deciduous forest where the tiger survives. Tiger is getting wiped out from the dry regions of India but it still exists in dry region of Ranthambhore. It may be ecologically difficult to save but it sure is an ecologically significant tiger habitat.
  3. Tiger and tiger behavior monitoring: Tourists come here to see tigers but they get much more in their visits, an opportunity to see tiger behavior like mating, hunting, cubs raising, and relationship with other tigers, territorial fights. All because this is a dry deciduous open forest. In other areas tiger are elusive creatures and difficult to spot forget observing their behavioral patterns. Ranthambhore has limited water sources and since no animal can live without water and so the tiger, we do see it near water holes. Also, due to dry sand on the road pug marks can be spotted easily for tracking it. Tourists definitely have taken advantage of this and so the tourism industry has benefited and yes, few writers and film makers too. But the trained scientist who could have used this opportunity for understanding tiger’s undisclosed behavior did not use this it to the optimum level.
  4. Important for other cat species: Tiger is found in other places but species like caracal is found in very few places and Ranthambhore is one of them. Ranthambhore is an important habitat for the caracal, rusty spotted cat is also found here.
  5. Ranthambhore as a Conservation Temple: Many models of conservation were kicked off from here and many till date are working. Several other parks have adopted the models used in Ranthambhore. Many well known scientist and tiger experts have got the learning’s from Ranthambhore. Ranthambhore tigers are the most photographed and filmed tigers, interest in the big cat among the common man is due to these photographs and films of tigers.

Jogi concluded, 'Even after this if one feels that Ranthambhore is not an important Tiger conservation Unit then one must open his eyes and see other forests like Simlipal, Panna, Manas, other forests of North east, Chhattisgarh; even there the tiger population is facing great threat and difficulties for survival. Some are facing problems of poaching and deforestation by locals, some have problem of non-resolvable political instability like terrorist, naxalites.'

Hearing all this all were in a stunned state of enlightment, the NDTV journalist took over and said, ‘We shall end this discussion here today, but we do have a lot to go back and think!

Saving the tigers cannot be achieved by firing one magic bullet! One way out that we understood today is: Breaking down the larger issues in to smaller focused bits which should have technically practical and politically feasible solutions.'

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Unwanted construction in the core areas of the park.. ...

Today during my morning walk in Ranthambhore City Park, I saw a glimpse of somebody known. Moving a little forward to check him I was surprised to see it was Jogi! Jogi was walking gloomily lost in his world... I stopped him and asked ‘Suprabhat (Good morning) Jogiji! What are you doing here in the city park...Leaving the National park...? You too are a city man now, haan?’ on this Jogi asked me ‘When was the last time you visited the park?’ I was about to answer but before that, Jogi in a scolding tone continued ‘When you leave this Orkut and Facebook world and come to the park you will know what is happening inside the park.’

I felt silent, the moment he saw a frown on my face he said, ‘Alright alright, forget what you’ll are doing and not doing, I will have to tell you what’s happening in the park.

He said ‘Yaar heart aches now a days; these people have ruined important places for the tigers like Berda, Bakola, Chandawli’. I interrupted him, ‘Why what happened in these pristine areas of the National Park, these are important water holes?!’

A serene spot in the forest enjoyed by a group of monkeys...

Jogi said, ‘Dear these are not just water holes but also important breeding ground for the tigers’ these places now have big chowki’s which are causing great disturbance to the park animals.’

Not only chowki’s they have constructed five star toilets, new roads, anicuts, talai’s (artificial water bodies).

Do you think Rajbag is an important area?

I replied, yes it is beautiful with lots of water and ample prey base for the tiger.’ Jogi said, ‘Dear, tiger can find water and prey in many places of the park but it also needs a solitary secluded place for delivering cubs and most importantly for raising them in isolation for first 2- 3 months.’ Now the FD has spoiled such areas.

I said chowki’s are going to be constructed....after all they are required to stop unwanted human intrusion.

Jogi asked, ‘What kind of human intrusion?’ i said, ‘cattle grazers and poachers’.

Jogi replied ‘Do you think these Talibani Gujjar’s will drop through choppers with their buffalo’s, shouldn’t they be stopped at the periphery of the park?’

Devi Singh admitted that he had shot tiger right below the Kachida Chowki near water hole.

I asked ‘Okay Jogi Saheb but what about the poachers?’ Jogi snapped ‘Instead of using forest vehicles for patrolling they use it for VIP tourism and taking forest officials visitors and VIP's for free rides in the park, why don’t they use patrolling vehicles for monitoring,?’

This vehicle is donated by Mark Hillery of Tudor Corporation; you can clearly see children and women sitting in it. VIP tourism in patrolling vehicle is a regular feature of RNP!

Forest guard engaged in taking VIP tourists for park safari

This is a gypsy donated by Rufford Foundation, women sitting behind for park ride.

VIP tourism in Government vehicle

VIP tourists in red light, red strip vehicles and the subsequent pressure on the park!

In a disheartened tone jogi continued, ‘Dear all the forest department patrolling vehicles are engaged in touring VIP’s all day and the officers are stationed for cutting park entry tickets. They have got stuck in the mundane job and have no time or inclination for monitoring’.

I told jogi, ‘Jogi please stop these sarcastic taunting and show me some facts and figures to help me understand better’.

Next moment Jogi put his hand in his jhola (cloth bag) and showed some papers and old pictures... i display those papers and photographs:

A. Facts related to Forest Guard post or chowki’s:

Today RNP has a total of 42 guard posts in the small 392 sq. km area, which means each post or chowki gets less than 9- 10 sq. km area, hence forest guards have to monitor just 3 km distance. RNP at present has strength of more than 400 guard personnel’s [Forest Guard, Cattle Guard, Home Guard, and Ex- Army personnel] which implies that 10 personnel per chowki in a 3x3 km area.

In the highlighted area new chowki’s built recently in the central part of the forest.

Off late Rajasthan Forest Department (RFD) has constructed 7 forest guard posts (Chowki) in the core areas of the national park. This will put a big anthropogenic pressure in the park.

Places where they have constructed these 7 new guard posts:

1. Lakrda Chowki: This is the central point of the park, in earlier times the FD themselves had removed the chowki twice from this area and now once again a new post has been erected in Lakrda region, they cut several trees for construction of this chowki. They could have constructed it on the same place where the earlier chowki was constructed but they chose a new area which is hidden from passing tourist.

Lakarda Chowki

2. Bhakola Chowki: This is a perennial water stream; a prime area, the tiger uses as a breeding ground.

Bakola Chowki

3. Bherdha Chowki: Every alternate year a tigress gives birth to cubs at this spot. Bherdha is a relocated village area. One of the finest habitats of Ranthambhore and now FD has constructed a guard post here too. Distance between bherdha with other chowkis like Bhakola, Anantpura, and Banderwal ki Baowri is just 1-2 km.

Berda Chowki

4. Chhandawali Chowki: this chowki located in a pristine forest valley. It is very close to Lahpur main guard post. A past interruption was that few years back FD constructed a road here.

5. Takia Kui Chowki: This is very close to Kachida chowki, right over a water hole the FD gives the explanation that this is being created to stop Uliana villagers but if they really want to stop villagers they should construct a chowki on the table top of the hill.

6. High Point Chowki: This is completely undesirable chowki in the central highest point of the park, FD explanation it is to improve their communication network however if it is the reason they can build a communication tower at this junction.

7. Indala Chowki: This is the only chowki which is useful for the protection of the park.

Forest guards use the same water holes for bathing & washing their clothes; this not only disturbs the animal but also a risk to their own health.

Should i drink this detergent water???

B. Facts related to New Road constructions:

Several new road constructions in the forest they have cut many trees, RNP already has several roads, tourists using some of these roads and disturbing animals. Ranthambhore already has enough road system in the park hence there is no need to construct more roads in the park. In Ranthambhore there is huge exchange of monetary funds on road maintenance and road construction.

1. Adidant to Kachida road: Recently FD opened Lambi ka Nalla spoiling the entire area by making it assessable to tourists and for this they constructed several roads connecting to Lambi ka nalla. Now from Lambi ka nalla’s Adidant area they have constructed a road taking to Kachida. For making this road they used heavy machines like excavator chopped hundreds of trees, the work continued for many months during which many workers were there in the park. This route is not open for tourists but government vehicles use it. There was no need as from Tamakhan Bhoot khurra and Bhakola road could be used to reach this place.

2. Lambi ka nalla road – Lambi is about 5 kilometre long perennial water stream. Recently FD made a road to explore this area and later it was opened for tourists as well. Several tourist vehicles now go there. It was a completely undesirable road as it could have been monitored from the hill top.

3. Semli to Lakarda road – FD says that his is a ‘fire-line’ but VIP vehicles, forest vehicles and sometimes even tourist vehicles use this road for sighting purposes.

4. Berda tiraya to thumka road – FD cut hundreds of trees for this road which was again called ‘fire-line’ but again several tree canopies still at close proximity making it equally vulnerable for forest fires.

5. Nalghati to Mandoop Road – there was no reason to make this road, it is at a steep and hence this road will increase forest erosion.

There are several other approaching roads at the inner areas of the park some of which are made available even to tourists...

This is Nalghati to Mandoop road, one can see cut trees...

C. Facts related to Anicuts and Artificial Water Bodies (Talai):

The FD constructed six talai’s and 10 anicuts in an area of 3 km. All the talai’s and anicuts are made on porous land, during the monsoon period for 2-3 months definitely it will hold water during which the trees in that area of the talai will be submerged and die; while for the rest part of the year the talai will dry out due to the land porosity.

Ranthambhore is a dry deciduous forest, converting habitat of a dry deciduous forest to a wet area, this altering of habitation makes many changes. During monsoons the water gets filled in these artificial Talai’s but these don’t hold water for long. Hence the forest money and resources go in waste for construction of these artificial water bodies. Besides these talai’s but it ends up changing the soil conditions and increasing ground seepage. This is a cause of habitat loss for several animals living in the burrows like field mouse, ground birds like quails, partridges, etc.

Jogi said, Anand Pendharkar rightly says, ‘Tigers are found in 30 other places but what about exclusive animals like caracals which are found only in one or two places like RNP? Their food is primarily these rodents and ground birds; hence if these small animals diminish the exclusive species like caracal will go with them!'

Shomita Mukherjee a small cat expert of India once said, alteration in habitat of Sariska put negative impact on small cat species in that forest. (Waterman Rajendra singh constructed many water bodies in and around Sariska)

Other technical faults in talai’s and water bodies:

1. Water bodies are made very close to each other.

2. In some places without catchments area around there is construction of water harvesting structures done.

3. The area selection was not right in many places, the soil in some places is porous while in others its sandy so the water holding capacity is low.

4. Places where water bodies are constructed are very good Dhonk forest area and these trees are now submerged in water, our estimate is 3000 such trees.

5. The main dam wall is low while the side walls are high. It is against the basic logistics of construction.

The illogically constructed dam

7. All this was neither mentioned in the Park Management plan nor was it passed by the Supreme Court constituted Central Empowered committee (CEC) making it unlawful as well.

8. In recent times the FD took donations from various sources and constructed many more talai’s inside the core areas of the forest too... in return they put such foundation stones in many places of the forest! For all the construction done even the rules of tender were not followed.

Foundation stone in Zone 1 of the park

Ranthambhore Tiger reserve is a very fragile park we should treat it with sensibility and seriously. some rangers are posted here since as long as 15 years and their main activity is taking care of all this construction work one can imagine, hence all this money making gimmicks should stop.



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


Field Director

(All Tiger Reserves)

Subject: Field intervention in core/critical tiger habitats.


As you aware, the core/critical tiger habitats have been notified by States under section 38V of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006. The core/critical habitats are areas of National Parks and Sanctuaries where field interventions should be very minimum, as per the directives issued by the honourable Apex Court on 25-11-2005, in 1A No.1220 (Interim Report of CEC in 1A No.548) and 1A No.994. A copy of the said order is enclosed for further reference.

2. The following are important to note vis-à-vis the directive of the Apex Court under reference:

(i) The field interventions should be as per approved Management Plan (Tiger Conservation Plan) of the Tiger Reserve.

(ii) No outside agency can undertake inside the core/critical tiger habitat without the prior permission of the Hon’ble Apex Court.

(iii) No individual donor can prescribe a field activity of his choice inside the core/critical tiger habitat.

(iv) The Tiger Conservation Plan for the tiger reserve should be as per the guidelines issued by vide NTCA Technical document 01/07, duly approved by the competent authority as prescribed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972, as amended in 2006.

(v) Since the core/critical tiger habitats are meant to be kept inviolate for tigers, artifacts like foundation stone, commemorative exhibits/signage should not be constructed in such areas at any cost.

3. The above directions may strictly be followed in compliance of the Hon’ble Apex Court’s directives under reference to ensure the sanctity of the core/critical tiger habitat.

Yours sincerely,

Dr.Rajesh Gopal

IGF and Member Secretary (NTCA)


Nature is fragile.. . Too much of intrusion will only cause disturbance which might even be irreversible.. . Also, the use of recourses wisely and efficiently can save and protect the delicate ecosystem.