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Friday, November 30, 2012

Elephant census in Assam

Enumeration of wild elephants has been carrying out in the state like the enumeration of rhinos and tigers. But enumeration of wild elephant is different from that of rhinos and tigers. Rhinos or tigers live in a specific location like Kaziranga NP, Manas NP or Orang NP. But wild elephants move in various districts or states even they cross international boundaries like India-Bhutan or India-Nepal etc. So it is easy to understand the difficulties in counting wild elephants. Hundred percent accuracy is never achieved,but forest officials engaged in enumeration try best to find reasonable figures. Project Elephant,under Ministry of Environment and Forest issued a few guide lines in 2005 for eneumeration of wild elephants in all 5 Elephant Reserves in the country recognised by Project Elephant. The objective of wild elephant enumeration aims -to learn about trends in elephant population; to set up accurate base line for elephant reserves; to gain information about the status of tuskers in the Ers and to provide exposure to the field staff. The methodology followed in this regard is done by the combination of any two of the following methods: 1.Traditional Method (Total Count) 2.Sampling Method (Block Sampling with Direct Count and 3.Sampling Method (Line Transact-Dung Count). Elephant population structure is also known by Fixed Point Count (from watch towers; hides at water holes;salt licks etc.) Experienced and trained observers collect data from watch towers,water hides or hides from 6 am to 6 pm for a fort night prior to actual enumeration. Total Count or Block-Sampling with direct count is being carried out on same dates in all the ER s within the same elephant range so as to minimize double count. On the other hand Sampling with Live Transacts-Dung Count is done in the same season. The following informations are collected during an elephant enumeration: total numbers of elephants during a particular season; numbers of elephants in various ages (adult,sub-adult,juvenile and calf etc); numbers according to sex groups (bulls and cows) and numbers of tuskers. Wild elephants are also classified according to their heights of shoulder. Accordingly, calves up to 4 feet (120 cm) height; juvenile up to 5 feet (150 cm); sub-adult (Bulls) up to 8 feet (240 cm); sub-adult (cows) up to 7 feet (210 cm). Above 8 feet (240 cm) in case of bulls and above 7 feet (210 cm) in case of cows are counted as adults. Bulls indicate both Tuskers and Makhnas.( Tusk less bulls are called Makhna while tusker with a single tusk is called a Ganesh.) Suitable scientific institutions/universities/colleges may be involved for training,planning,field work. analysis etc.More over service of the reputed NGOs are also involved provided they have been exposed suitably to the methodology. The followings are a few major techniques taken for Total Count and Block Sampling Counts: Identification of individual elephants and herds; estimation of heights of elephants; distinguishing Makhna from cow elephants; tips of avoiding double count; stratification of census zone; use of maps,GPS,compass,camera; precaution against wild elephants; care of domesticated elephants; first aids etc. For Dung-Count technique the following main aspects are taken into consideration beside a few already mentioned above: Calculation of dung decay rate; selection of dung sample; distinguishing between old and fresh dung; dung present from dung absent; dealing with obstacles during transacts; distinguishing dung of one elephant from another etc. As per Principal Chief Conservator of Forests,Wildlife,Assam order Dated 25.10.2010 all conservators and DFOs were asked estimate wild elephants of Assam after 2010.It needs mention that earlier elephant enumeration was restricted to enumeration of elephants in the Elephant Reserves only.But as per the new order estimation of the elephants was to be done in the entire Assam covering all geographical area. A training session was held at the Herbarium Hall of Guwahati zoo on 11.11.2011 and instructions were given to forest officials to be engaged in Elephant Census 2011.The census was to be carried out within a week. Now let us see the schedule of the activities of the week long elephant enumeration during 2010-11. Day 1:Briefing of the estimating teams and positioning of the ET at the starting point. Day 2-4:Locating elephant herd by direct sighting,following trail,dung,foot prints and marking of the sighting locations on the map. Day 5:Detection of the elephant herd following their Dandi in accordance with the movement pattern and recording of the population. Day 6: Trial counting for the actual estimation. The stratification into high,medium and low strata are to be finalized as per the movement pattern and next days position of the herd in the block. Day 7: Actual final counting by traversing from the opposite direction of the previous days movement route and pattern in the respective blocks with GPS recording. On completion of the week long activity debriefing is done. Zonal Estimation: For smooth and systematic estimation the Conservators of Forests act as the Zonal Coordinator and DFOs are the Zonal Officers. So accordingly,elephant enumerations have been done in Assam. Its really a thrilling experience for all the forest officials in the state where such enumerations are done. According to the latest census there are approximately 5620 wild elephants in Assam (google data) in 20 Wildlife Sanctuaries and two National Parks,including Kaziranga and Manas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Win & loss part of life: Thaneswar Malakar,DC,Udalguri

'Wins and losses are necessary parts human life.Opponents are not enemies but like good friends,who show us our faults'. So said noted writer Thaneswar Malakar,DC,Udalguri on the concluding day of “Parivesh Trophy and Dhuli Boro football tournament for children played at Kalaigaon College play ground on November 24.Attending the awards giving ceremony as the chief guest Malakar said that people of Udalguri district had been specially unique in two respects. He specially appreciated skilled woman weavers of the district who had successfully demonstrated their expertise both in national and international level. He urged BTC authority utilize the potentials of women of Udalguri. He was also in big praise for young sports loving children of the district. He remarked that what had been seen at Tangla or Udalguri town that young players practicing regularly could not be seen in other districts. According to him the superfluous energy in children if not utilized in the form of physical exercise could well be utilized by anti social elements. He thanked organizers specially Krishna Boro for arranging events for village children. Several distinguished people namely -Mukunda Ram Choudhury,MLA,Kalaigaon; Jagadish Sarkar, MCLA,BTC;Dr.Susen Thakuria,former HOD,Surgery, GMCH; DN Hazarika, Circle Officer,Harisinga Revenue Circle,Tangla; Madhab Sarma, Principal, JNV, Kalaigaon and social workers -Kami Ram Saharia,Mahendra Saikia,Kamal Prasad Sarma etc also attended the prize giving ceremony. Bananguri MES defeated Kacharitol MES by 1-0 in the final match of Parivesh Trophy while UN Academy,Kalaigaon defeated Kacharitol Bishnu Rabha HS by 2-1 in the final match of Dhuli Boro Trophy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

One more wild elephant found dead in Udalguri (Assam)

The recovery of a dead female wild elephant at Paneri in Udalguri district has caused serious concern among nature loving people. The 8 years old female wild elephant was seen in a tea garden drain of Paneri TE in the morning hours of November 23. Forest officials could not determine the cause of the unnatural death of the elephant and post-mortem report is waited.It needs mention that so far 7 wild elephants and 6 people have lost lives in Udalguri district during 2012 only. According to post-mortem reports most of the wild elephants died because of electrocution and poisoning. Environmental NGOs namely- Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society and Green Society,Udalguri have expressed concern at the regular unnatural deaths of 7 wild elephants and 6 people within just a few months in this year. Members of the NGO and nature loving people requested forest department of Assam and BTC immediately to take necessary steps to create awareness among villagers so as to minimize so called “Man-elephant Conflict” in the district as well as in the state.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Assam Environmental NGO Forum urges govt to stop encroachment and killing of wild animals and birds

Assam Environmental NGO Forum (AENF)general meeting was held recently at Swahid Bhawan,Nagaon on November 18.The forum urgently discussed a few conservation related burning issues of Assam and NE and requested government to act fast to save the remaining natural resources of the state. Representatives of 23 environmental NGOs of Assam namely- Aranyak, Aranya Xurakhya Xamiti, Nature's Bekon, Early Birds, Grass Hopper,Green Earth, Green Guard,Nature's Foster, Kaziranga Wildlife Society, Dolphin Foundation, Manas Maozigendri Eco-Tourism Society, Green Society Udalguri etc attended the central body meeting to express their views on a few ecology related burning issues of the state like – Man-elephant conflict,unabated killing of rhinos and tigers, encroachment on wetlands and reserve forests, government allotment of lands on wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests etc. Moloy Barua of Early Birds presided over the state level meet. In her welcome speech,Green Reporter Mubina Akhtar,who is also the coordinator of the forum explained a few important issues and said that the mission of the forum would be to ensure environmental security and long term sustenance of biodiversity in the whole NE with special reference to Assam. A nine member central core committee of the forum was formed at the meeting with the followings-Mubina Akhtar (Kaziranga Wildlife Society),Moloy Baruah (Early Birds), Bibhab Talukdar (Aranyak). Nitul Nath(Aranya Xurakhya Xamiti),Raj Phukan (Green Guard),Pranabjyoti Das(Manas Maozigendri Eco-Tourism Society),Jayanta Kumar Das(Green Society,Udalguri), and representatives of Nature's Bekon and Wildlife Conservation Society, Dibru Saikhoa NP.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jayanta Kumar Das

Mubina Akhtar,Green Reporter and Chief coordinator,Assam Environmental NGO Forum addressing representatives of Environmental NGOs of Assam at Swahid Bhawan,Nagaon on November 18. Malay Barua of 'Early Bird' was the presiding officer

Udalguri SP suggests use of 303 rifles by villagers to counter terrorism

“At least 45 thousands of 303 series rifles and nearly 10 lakhs rounds of its bullets are lying idle in various police armors in the state with the modernization of Assam police with AK series assault rifles. These arms are no use to army and paramilitary forces will automatically be damaged within short time and would have to be burned”. So said Debojit Deuri,Superintendent of police, Udalguri at Golondi Army Camp of the district recently. Talking to this correspondent on the occasion of 31st Raising Day of 159 Field Regiment, SP Deuri said that police alone can never control increasing numbers of extremist activities or anti-social elements including poachers equipped with grenades, automatic pistols,assault rifles etc. had been operating in the state posing serious challenge before police and security forces. Police cannot always guard all the people. According to him citizens must play a vital role to maintain law and order in the society. But challenging extremist or anti social elements with bare hands was impossible. He suggested that raising of new village protection forces in the line of VDP with proper training would very much help in maintaining peace in the society as well as would act as a successful counter to terrorism. He suggested that unused 303 rifles numbering more than 45 thousand could be given to these protection forces by changing existing concept of VDP. Young and trained people only be engaged after proper training in the villages in the line of Home Guards. He said that nearly 40 thousand licensed guns,which had been deposited in various police stations in Assam too would be damaged shortly.Owners would like to preserve them as mementos. SP Deuri remarked that the concept has successfully been used in Jammu & Kashmir to counter terrorism. Speaking on the use of tear gas shells ,SP remarked that tear gas must be replaced by laughing gas,as tear gas produced more anger.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wild elephants kill 4 near Indo-Bhutan border in Udalguri district

Man -elephant conflict has taken a serious turn in Udalguri district with the recent killing of four young persons at a time by wild elephants at Nonaokhuti village near Khalingduar Reserve Forest. In a very tragic incident four young people namely- Ankit Newar (15),Ranjit Hajda (32),Panchu Orang (20) and Bhutung Lama (30) have been killed by wild elephants at around 8 PM on November 16..According to information all the four persons had been trying to chase away a herd of wild elephants damaging their paddy.The killed persons never noticed another two or more wild elephants standing at a close distance.And all the four had been attacked and killed instantly unaware. The incidence has created sensation in the district.Forest officials rushed to the spot. NGOs like Green Valley Forest and Wildlife Protection Society,Udalguri; Green Society, Udalguri and Tangla Press Club have expressed serious concern at the tragic incident.They also condoled the deaths of four young people at Nonaikhuti village and requested people to keep away from wild elephants and not to venture out to chase away wild elephants during night time. People urge forest,WWF,Aranyak etc immediately to visit affected villages and people so as to control the situation to minimize causalities on both sides. It needs mention that so far 6 wild elephants and 5 people have lost their lived in the district during 2012.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Block level science based competition held at Tangla

Aryabhatta Science Centre, Kalaigaon block under ASTEC (Assam Science Technology and Environment Council) Guwahati in association with Maharishi Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School,Tangla organized a science based competition for students on November 17 at Tangla. Rajashree Borah,Principal, MVM,Tangla hoisted the ASC flag at 10 AM while Nabin Chandra Boro, Inspector of Schools,Udalguri district inaugurated the competition at 11 AM. In his inaugural speech Inspector of Schools analyzed Vigyan,Pragyan and Gyan. He requested child scientists to study and experiment small matters found in their surrounding areas. He said that study and understanding science could very much help in removing blind believe and superstition from minds of people which in turn would check a few burning problems namely-witch hunting,dowry killing sacrifices etc DN Hazarika,Circle officer,Harisinga Revenue Circle,Tangla attended the programme as the guest of honor. On the occasion he requested students and teachers to work for the conservation of nature wild life and ecology. He expressed regret at the unabated destruction of flora and fauna in the district. Mentioning governments schools apathy for such programmes, He said it was a pity that no student from government schools participated in the science based competitions. In the science based model competition-Krishna Boro and Tejashree Deka (MVM,Tangla); Rodali Das and Diksha Devi (Arunodoi Academy,Tangla); Meenakshi Dutta and Dibyarupa Rabha (MVM,Tangla) won first three places. In the science based extempore speech competition- Deep Anand Basumatari (AA.Tangla);Suraj Roy (MVM,Tangla);Bismita Mahanta Das (MVM,Tangla) won first three places.In the science based poster drawing competition- Prastuti Parashar (LB Public School,Kalaigaon);Kalyani Rabha (MVM,Tangla) and Jinti Baruah (LB Public School,Kalaigaon) won first three places.All the winners have qualified to participate in the district level competition to be held at Udalguri next month. Anima Bhuan,HOD,Zoology,Tangla College (who also judged the competition) and Rajashree Borah,Principal,MVM,Tangla distributed prizes and certificates.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Unnatural deaths of wild elephants alarming in Udalguri district in Assam

Unnatural deaths of wild elephants in Udalguri district has posed serious threat to wild elephant population in the state. So far six wild elephants have been found dead during 2012 against deaths of two people by wild elephants in the district. The ratio is alarming considering total population of wild elephants. According to official records only 12 nos of wild elephants had been found dead during 2000 to 2007. Among them 7 were male and 5 female including 2 babies. As per post-mortem reports 3 died due to poisoning;2 due to fighting injury and 6 due to shock and haemorrhage caused by external injury.But numbers of death toll rised to 23 during 2008 – 2012 period.The post-mortem reports indicate that 6 died due to electric shock;6 due to poisoning. 4 baby elephants died from falling in the deep tea garden drains.Other 7 died natural deaths. So it is seen that most wild elephants died due to poisoning or electrocution. Significantly most incidents occurred in the tea garden area. As a results of encroachment on all the buffer zones around wildlife sanctuaries or reserve forests traditional elephant corridors have been closed forcing wild elephants to roam in the villages. Wild elephants have a very sharp memory and they follow the traditional corridors used by their forfathers. Wild elephants or other wild animals never understand or follow geographical boundaries.As a result of new constructions,tea gardens,army camps etc all the existing corridoors have been blocked which has caused the so called “Man-elephant conflict” in the state.Most of the PRF (Proposed Reserve Forests) namely-Kundarbil,Neewly, Bormukoli etc. have been totally encroached and area of Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary, Khalingduar Reserve Forest,Bhairabkunda Reserve Forest etc.have been shrinking fast. Big tea gardens too have occupied huge forest lands. When villagers have been attacked or their crops or houses damaged people try to chase away elephants by any means. Tea gardens in the district too use electric fencing causing deaths of 6 wild elephants during this year. Most seriously,taking advantage of their like for salt,a few angry villagers used to dump urea mixed with pesticides causing deaths of 6 wild elephants this year. The deep trench like drains also sometimes served as death traps for new born babies. Nature loving people,journalists,NGO members including WWF have expressed serious concern at the alarming instances of death of wild elephants. According to them forest department alone can never solve this burning problem unless local people are involved. They have suggested a few steps mentioned below for permanently solving this problem. (a)Deployment of more young forest personal equipped with sophisticated weapons. (b) Survey of the lands occupied by tea gardens so as to find out if forest lands have been encroached. (c)Tea gardens must maintain a trained staff of their own to tackle the emergency situations.(d) Tea gardens must maintain plantation free forest area inside their gardens so that herds of wild elephants could take rest undisturbed. (e) Materials like salt,urea,pesticides etc must never be dumped anywhere. (f) Construction of electric fencing by tea gardens or individuals must be stopped. (g)A few interested local NGO must be motivated to help forest department to check poaching or illegal felling of trees. For this the members of NGO must be given proper training so that they understand wild animal behaviour and can create awareness among other villagers.( h)Strict legal procedure must be taken against people found to be involved in killing of wild animals or felling of trees inside reserve forests.(i) Records showed that most human causalities have been occurred in the tea garden area particularly in the evening or night time.People of such areas be properly advised to be alert and not to venture out in the evening or night. Wild elephants in a herd usually do not attack people.But loner elephants (who have been expelled from the herd) are very dangerous.People must avoid them at any cost. (j) Mini forests in the form JFMC (Joint Forest Management Committee) must be formed on vacant lands in villages or Indo-Bhutan border where wild elephants could take temporary shelter.One such JFMC man made forest has been successfully established at Sapangaon village near Bhairabkunda. Here nearly 5000 bighas of barren sandy lands have been converted into a spectacular new forest. This JFMC has even been drawing tourists from other places of the state.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jumboo kills army jawan at Hatigarh

Nayak Subedar Manoj Kumar Das (35) of Hatigarh army camp has been killed by a wild elephant inside the army camp on November 8. According to information he was attacked by a wild elephant at 5.30 am while he had been performing morning duty along with other jawans. He had been rushed to Hatigarh Brigade Hospital where he breathed his last at 8 am. The killed army man belonged to Bidyapur village of Burdhwan in West Bengal.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kumud Chandra Deka passes away

People mourn sudden demise of Kumud Chandra Deka,a police officer known for his highest degree of integration, devotion and commitment towards the people for a long period.Kumud Chandra Deka ended his illustrious life on October 30 at his residence at Rasaraj Bi- lane at Hatigaon in Guwahati. At the age of about 69, he breathed his last following a sudden cardiac arrest. He was born on May 6 of 1943. After completing his graduation in arts with Distinction from Bajali College took admission in Gauhati University, but for a short period he joined as a subject teacher in Geography in Choukhuti High School. Later he joined the Assam Police as a Sub Inspector in 1972 and started his career in Udalguri police station. As a tough but people friendly police officer, he enjoyed a high reputation for his service in the various police stations including Panery andKalaigaon. Significantly he rendered his service in Kalaigaon police station for long period of seven years at a stretch as the officer in charge and proved his ability to tackle the situation even at the critical periods. He also served as the officer in charge of Dispur police station.He left behind his wife Minu Chowdhury two sons and a doughter. On receipt of his sudden demise, a number of admirers, relatives and well wishers from Kalaigaon Tangla and other places rushed to his residence to offer their last respect.Senior journalist of Darrang Bhargab Kumar Das, Secretary,Kalaigaon Nagarik Manch Dandi Kumar Boro etc attended his funeral at Bhutnath Crematorium in Guwahati on the Tuesday evening. Various organizations namely Kendukalai of Kalaigaon, Kalaigaon Nagarik Manch, Mangaldai Media Circle, Mangaldai Study Circle have deeply mourned his death.