MAN-MADE MI­GRA­TION

TRANSLO­CA­TION IS THE LAT­EST BUZZWORD FOR THE MAD­HYA PRADESH FOR­EST DEPART­MENT

India Today - - INSIDE - By Rahul Noronha

The Mad­hya Pradesh for­est depart­ment shows the way in the translo­ca­tion of wild an­i­mals such as nil­gai, baras­ingha, gaurs

It is 42 de­grees Cel­sius in the shade. This is the Bun­delk­hand re­gion of Mad­hya Pradesh, and wildlife ex­pert Kar­tikeya Singh, at the be­hest of the lo­cal MLA, is gear­ing up for a trip to Ch­hatarpur. His mis­sion: to se­lect a site for the pos­si­ble cap­ture and re­lo­ca­tion of the Nil­gai. These an­i­mals, na­tive to the area, are known to rav­age the crops of lo­cal farm­ers—crops that are es­pe­cially dear to the poverty-stricken com­mu­ni­ties of this re­gion.

Since De­cem­ber, Singh—who runs Wildlife and Forestry Ser­vices, pos­si­bly In­dia’s only pri­vate wildlife man­age­ment con­sul­tancy—has helped the MP for­est depart­ment cap­ture and re­lo­cate 27 Nil­gai from the farmed fields of Mand­saur dis­trict. The an­i­mals have been re­leased into a nearby sanc­tu­ary, un­der the depart­ment’s al­ter­na­tive plan to deal with the hu­man-an­i­mal con­flict. It is a more hu­mane op­tion than the tra­di­tional method: to re­duce the Nil­gai pop­u­la­tion by killing a cer­tain per­cent­age of the an­i­mals, a prac­tice known as culling. Many states,

such as Bi­har, cur­rently em­ploy the lat­ter method. Such re­lo­ca­tion of Nil­gai from farmed fields to pro­tected forests is just one of many translo­ca­tion op­er­a­tions un­der­taken by the MP for­est depart­ment in the last few years. This ap­proach to wildlife man­age­ment—though com­mon in coun­tries like Africa—is novel, even out-of-the-box in this coun­try. MP is the only state in the coun­try to have at­tempted it on such a large scale, mark­ing a shift from ‘pas­sive’ wildlife man­age­ment to a more ‘ac­tive’ mode. So far, hun­dreds of an­i­mals have been moved to new habi­tats.

Ini­tial at­tempts at wildlife translo­ca­tion in MP met with fail­ure. The state’s first ma­jor at­tempt—to trans­port sev­eral Baras­ingha from Kanha to the Band­hav­garh na­tional park, in 1982—turned out to be a dis­as­ter. Many of the deer died. Dis­cour­aged by the fail­ure, the state tem­po­rar­ily aban­doned this model of wildlife man­age­ment.

Al­most 27 years passed be­fore the next at­tempt. In De­cem­ber 2008, an op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self when Panna Na­tional Park was found to be bereft of tigers. In March the fol­low­ing year, the MP for­est

SHUBHRANJAN SEN

LIVE FREE Translo­cated Baras­ingha be­ing re­leased in the Sat­pura Na­tional Park

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