Tuesday, June 22, 2010
here is something about biodiversity & forests.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly !
Long back there was a hit movie of Clint Eastwood,with three characters playing the attitudes as the title of the movie!
This time after my jungle trip at two of most celebrated forests in country Kanha & Bandhavgad & spending lot of time moving around tourists as well forest staff & the support system such as guides, gypsy operator & hotels around the park,some what similar heading I feel for my tour!
Well the Good is ...
about the forest that there are Tigers yet roaming freely in the forests like Kanha & the forest staff & more important the support system which is concerned about the forest.Though many things need to improve at route level & the first is the coordination between the three key factors related to any national park. They are Forest staff, the tourists ( here I mean common tourist & not the vip's) & the link in between these two i.e the support system which includes the hotel people at such places, the guides, the forest workers & the drivers of the safaris! Surprisingly all three hate each other enough so as not to have any dialogue or trust on each others interests & feelings about the forest & all three thinks that theirs are the most genuine specie if forest is considered & other two are their either to squeeze them or to obstruct them from their purpose.
For eg there was a recent case of getting a tigress got killed in Bandhavgad park & leaving three cubs of hardly 4 months old to survive on their own! Its said that the tigress has been hit by a speeding vehicle in forest which either can be of tourists or of forest dept. As only these two types of vehicles are allowed in the forest. Now there is a fight going between forest dpt & safari vehicles & guides that whose fault it is! There are many senior officers in forest dept who thinks that the tourists should be banned in the forest as it disturbs the animal movements as well their work of patrolling & protecting animals gets hampered. Its true in a way but then tiger or forest conservation isn't just one departments job! Forests are our national treasures & we cant keep them secluded from common man. Rather the more common tourists will learn about the forests,feel them around the easier the job of forest department will be come.
As it's the tourists which generets lots of empolyment in form of various services, for the local people which other wise would have been a problem. And its this segment who would have turned to poachers if kept idel & unemployeed. Now they understand that its the forest which is making them also to survive, so if forest survives they also survives!
But for this the department has to be properly managed & infra structured.Unfortunately this factor is not given a practical thought.Result is restrictions & more restrictions on tourists movement & then the common man feels dejected from the forests. At bandhavgad what they did is they closed the half of the park & kept just the ranges open where there is literly no water so no animals. Agreed I myself have seen enough of forests & know that forest is more than the tiger yet if u don't see even few birds or smaller animals like gazelles or mungus for miles of stretches then certainly u don't make good opinion about the forest or the way its being managed. The bandhavgad park is supposed to be the best for the tigers & that means the entire system is good but is it really true! As the only one range ie Tala is having water bodies so all the concentration of the animals is there & the department closed it that too only online booking 20 vehicles are allowed for each ride. This information one gets at the gate & even if the 20 vehicles who have booked online don't turn up yet those who have traveled for thousand of miles & came to see the park have to go away as they don't have online booking!
The ranges such as Khatoli or Magadhi where u are allowed to go instead, the guide & the safari operators themselves told u that there is no animal movement! Then what a common tourist should do than cursing forest dept? Here the fault lies with both as nothing wrong about the other ranges ,they have good forest but no infrastructural works for retaining water within them thus even the birds have deserted them! Also the tour operators or guides as they haven't any dialogue or trust with forest dept they just blame them instead showing whatever better things are there in two ranges!
The silver lining is Kanha, where at least a good rapport is there between the guides, safari operators & tourists. Also the forest staff is much alert & sometimes may be over disciplined yet keeping a keen eye on the animals. Lot of efforts have been taken & they are noticeable as I have been visiting kanha over last 7 years regularly,especially the center at Kanha & the way facilities like toilets being improved is remarkable,as we get hundreds of foreign tourists & they are bound to compair with their country.The museum & interaction center is also good.But here too some lacuna's have to be covered & that is it high time to make tourists clear that Forest is not The Tiger! And for this the first thing is to be done is close the Tiger show ,which is being conducted by the forest department itself. Here the men riding elephant start early in the morning to,locate the tiger & as soon they spot it, the elephants held or corner or pin the tiger at the spot & radios the center. At center then all the tourists get coupons with 100/ per head & the gypsies went to the spot where tiger is being held by elephants & then from there the elephants carries the tourists on their back to the tiger ! Well though its the sure way to watch the Tiger but its most ridiculous way for any real forest lover! Two things happens ,one is all the focus of the tourist spins around the tiger & they forget to look for other equally beautiful things in the forest & second is the tiger himself surely gets disturbed with this pinning up by elephants. And if the forest dpt on one hand claims animals getting disturbed by the movement of tourists on one hand then they are doing themselves more disturbance by tiger show.
Now another major aspect is about the park water management which is the key reason for animals movement within the park especially for the forests in central India, which don't have nay perennial water source. The park needs to have staff with the knowledge of such planning.Also important is to have separate staff to monitor the tourists & to monitor the forest as well animals. this will take the load off the existing staff & will help in having a better dialogue between the outsiders & the forest dept.
The Bad is...
On this front we are too Bad as the forest department is very poor on having infrastructure on manpower & infrastructure power. I never understood that we don't allow any vehicle except 4 wheel drive & petrol engine in the park & the forest dept themselves have diesel driven jeeps making more noise & exhaust pollution than any vehicle! Why we cant give them battery driven or cng driven vehicles at war level for patrolling! So many such small things right from the means of communication within the park to accommodation of the guards in the forest, many things are below par for human living. Many a chowkis have to fetch the water from nearly 4-5 km distance for drinking ! Proper bore wells with water softeners can be provided at such spots &a vehicle for drinking water supply to the guards can be donated even by some private corporates also! So many things to do here as forest guards & support system like guides etc plays a very vital roale in forest conservation as they are actually there at last end.But there needs a effort in this direction.
The attitude of most of the tourists! They just think that forest is a place where they can enjoy as they wish as they have paid the charges for entry. Irritating is the attitude of so called VIP's who roam in vehicle with govt tag & god bless us that they don't order the Tiger to sit in their vehicle! Even the police gypsies are there in breaking all the driving laws & blocking not only other tourists view but even the animals,just to get better snaps for their VIP guests! Even the common tourists get frenzied when sees tiger & force the drivers to put their vehicle ahead of others & ignores guides instructions to maintenance silence & enjoy the scene. This can be avoided only if there is a continuous awareness program & stringent punishment to the tourists & not just the drivers or guides.
Ultimately to save the forest & the animals in it isn't just one departments responsibility. Its our national treasure & all must contribute for the same. The extreme steps of banning the tourists wont work ,it will only increase in ignorance of common man towards forest.Rather more & more people should visit forests & contribute for the conservation of the same & also do something at their places when they go back to their cities from the forest. Important is this shouldn't happen at the cost of peace of the forest animals,that's what we have to achieve!
( click on link above for more snaps)
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