A JOURNAL OF THE JIM CORBETT FOUNDATION
Established in 1994 and registered as a non profit organization in Canada
1306- 39 St, Edmonton, Alberta, T6L 2M7, Canada
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VOL.16 Number 63 March 2010 Editor:JERRY A. JALEEL F.R.G.S.
TIGER DEATHS IN CORBETT NATIONAL PARK: Several bodies of dead tigers were found inside the Corbett park in the last three months. Some were said to be poisoned by villagers, and others were presumed killed during territorial fights by rival tigers. The bodies with no cuts or signs of mutilations were labeled as death by poison administered by villagers in carcasses. In recent weeks a tiger killed two women who were collecting firewood inside the park. The authorities were trying to trap the killer tiger in the hope of relocating it to a zoo, but the angry villagers wanted the cat killed, and this anger might have caused the death of several tigers that roams the Corbett park.
Ironically, no other parks in India is losing tigers at this rate. According to officials, Corbett park has a population of 50 tigers or more. Sightings of several cubs with mothers were reported there in recent months. Many thinks that the area is over crowded. Even so, the park is not lack of prey. It is teemed with thousands of spotted deer as well as a healthy population of sambur, chinkara, hog deer, musk deer and other mammals. A mother with young cubs are very cautious and protective, and resentful to intruders. Any one walking into their playground would be taking a great risk. In many parks in India, collecting fodder and firewood is very common. In the case of the women killed by tigers, they were not eaten.
It is also not uncommon for male tigers to kill young cubs to get the mother tigress ready for mating. There are several instances where the tigress defend her cubs by fighting with the intruder, and as a result receiving life threatening injuries and even death. The aggressive male tigers are also known to attack and kill other weak male tigers or young male tigers to establish their own territory.
The sad part in the death of the tigers in Corbett park is that the authorities are unable to establish the cause of death, or doing anything to prevent such happenings. According to three reliable sources who works in the Corbett park tells me that there is a huge cover up by the authorities and the operators who depends on income from tourists. Any naturalist who is concerned with the issue would be banned from the park and be labeled as a threat to the park and its administration. It happened in many other parks before, and every time when some researchers sounded alarm, they were promptly expelled from the park. This is politics at its worst. It was deeply rooted in the Indian history, even during Corbett’s time, almost seventy years ago when he pleaded for the conservation of tigers and asked the public to rally behind the tigers to ensure their protection, adding that ‘tigers have no votes’.
It is unfortunate that the conflict between tigers and men is on the rise. The number of tigers has been dwindled from 3000 to 800 or less in recent years, having the majority being killed to supply organs and bones to satisfy the demands of ancient and primitive medical practices. Those who are guarding the tigers in India are still without proper outfits to combat the demanding job. Most of the money raised to ‘SAVE THE TIGER’ ends up towards administrative fees. Some of the ‘tiger experts’ are promoting themselves with their books and videos and pocketing the money. In the meantime, the tiger in India is under humungous pressure by an ever increasing population, an uneducated bunch of politicians and gutless forest officials who tap dance with the politicians instead of executing and following their job description. It is time India set up a central body for tiger conservation by recruiting able members from professional ranks who are immune to political pressure and corruption.
BILLY ARJAN SINGH: A TRIBUTE TO A GREAT NATURALIST & CONSERVATIONIST
Hailed as India’s most staunch tiger conservationist, author of several books on tigers and leopards and creator of Dudhwa national Park, Kunwar (Billy) Arjan Singh died at the age of 92 in India on the New Years day 2010.
Billy (means cat in Hindi) was born on 15 August 1917 in Gorakhpur in a prominent royal family. As a youth he spent most of his leisure time with a rifle, shooting wild animals and birds including a tiger. But soon he regretted his passion for hunting, and decided to give back to the wild whatever he could, especially towards the protection of tigers which were decreasing in numbers at an alarming speed. He supported the then prime minister Indira Gandhi with her Project Tiger concept in the early 1970s. With her permission, Billy acquired a young tigress from Twycross zoo in England. He named her Tara and successfully hand raised the tigress, at his home in Tiger Haven and eventually released her into the wild. This area later became part of Dudhwa national park created after years of hard work and appeal by Billy Arjan Singh.
He also raised a leopard named Prince and released her into the wild as well to prove that it was possible to raise endangered animals privately and they could be successfully released in the wild. When UK based Survival Anglia film company heard of this, they sent a crew to Tiger haven and produced an excellent one hour documentary titled Leopard of the Wild, narrated by David Niven. I was impressed with the film when I first saw it in 1981, and soon purchased his book, Tiger Haven published in 1971. Soon his second book came out, Tara in 1981 followed by The Prince of Cats (1982) and Tiger! Tiger! in 1984. In this book Billy recalled his childhood in Naini Tal and his association with Jim Corbett. He was thrilled when Corbett agreed to talk with young Billy every Sunday if he could get to the Gurney House where Corbett lived with his sister Maggie and stepsister Mary. His next book Eelie & the Big cats was published in 1987, and A Tiger’s Story in 1999.A biography of Billy titled Honorary Tiger by Duff Hart Davis was published in 2005 and was reviewed in the TIGER-TRAILS at the time.
When the tigers started disappearing in Dudhwa park, Billy took some drastic measures to protect them. This didn’t go well with the local politicians and they banned Billy from entering the park again. When he was allowed back into the park, Billy was accompanied by Ian Love, a JCF member from Britain. Ian stated that his visits with the great tiger wallah and the chats with him would remain in his memory for a long time.
Billy’s contributions to the wildlife have been recognized world wide. He was awarded the Padma Shri medal in 1995, the J.Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation award was given to him in 2004 and the prestigious Padma Bhushan medal was awarded in 2006 when he was 88. Billy Arjan Singh had a wonderful and long life. He defended the tigers and the reputation of Jim Corbett when arrogant people like Kailash Sankhala took cheap shots at him. Billy’s departure will be greatly missed by the remaining tigers in India.
Epilogue: TARA,the young tigress Billy obtained in 1976 from the Twycross zoo in Britain happened to be a hybrid - a cross between a Siberian tiger and a Bengal tiger. Its true identity was not known until 1990 when observing some of the Dudhwa tigers, it was noticed that they showed signs of their Siberian cousin: pale fur and white complexion instead of the traditional orange coat, and large head and wide body stripes. With the help of modern science, a series of DNA tests were conducted and it was proved that the Siberian tiger genes have polluted the pure Indian (Bengal) tiger gene pool of Dudhwa national park. The Twycross zoo was irresponsible for not keeping any breeding records. However, most of the Dudhwa tigers were killed by poachers, and up to two years ago, it was believed that all the tigers in Dudhwa were wiped out by poachers. However, it is reported that a few tigers from the neighboring area have taken up residence in Dudhwa. This would certainly delight old Billy. (JJ)
OF WHALES, DOLPHINS & JAPANESE FISHERMEN
The world population of whales and dolphins is sharply on the decline in the past two decades. Many countries participate in the killing of these noble marine mammals. Chilean fishermen kill thousands of commerson’s dolphins and use their meat as crab bait. Hector’s dolphin, a native of New Zealand waters is now listed as an endangered species. Its numbers are vastly shrunk due to heavy pollution and trawling. Norway is killing Beluga whales left and right in the pretense that they are depleting the cod stocks. Russia is echoing the same excuse to hunt whales. But the biggest and the worst enemy of these creatures is undoubtedly Japan.
The world fisheries is totally controlled by Japan. In their desire to dominate the industry Japan has been quite ruthless in harvesting hundreds of whales from around the world. Their specialty is slaughtering thousands of dolphins each year from September to March in a secretly guarded ocean outlet in Taiji where they drive the migratory dolphins towards the shore, trapped them with nets and kill them with spears and meat cleavers daily for seven months. Some of these creatures swim around for hours before they drown in the sea of blood. A few of them are trapped alive and shipped to various zoos and outdoor exhibits for $150,000 each. The rest of them are sold at the Tsukiji market as whale meat. Although this highly contaminated meat (with high concentration of mercury) is unfit for human consumption, it is shipped to various sushi bars and restaurants around the world. Several years after the dolphin meat was introduced as a regular school lunch in Japan, many children were born deformed. Those who made its connection with the dolphin meat were silenced. This practice continued until recently when two council members spoke out publicly to save their children.
Taiji area is forbidden to tourists. Foreigners are not welcome. The sad part is, even majority of Japanese doesn’t know what is going on in Taiji and unaware that they are eating highly contaminated and raw dolphin meat. A recent film made by the Oceanic Preservation Society, titled The Cove has done an excellent job of exposing the ruthless fishermen of Taiji and the japanese fishery officials’ elaborate scheme to cover up the slaughtering of both dolphins and whales. This documentary, made with high definition cameras and other gadgets has won an Academy Award last week. The film makers were under constant watch by secret police and Japanese elite security force. I have seen the film and it is worth watching the horrible practice that is still continuing without any obstruction.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is quite helpless in dealing with Japan. The Japanese government is keen to recruit the very poor and bankruptcy nations, such as the whole Caribbean countries by providing them with financial packages and bribes to support their whaling agenda. Whenever other nations protest Japan’s aggressive harvesting of the whales and dolphins, they are outnumbered by Japan’s above mentioned supporters. Their last excuse for the massacre of the Taiji dolphins was pest control. The japanese have successfully eliminated the entire population of dolphins in Iki years ago.
Someone recently said that if the future of whales is to be depended upon the IWC, there is no hope. Like the World Wildlife Fund and Save the Tiger organizations in India, IWC is a toothless agency. The Green Peace and their Sea Shepherd does more works to save the whales than all other agencies put together. It is sad that the government does not solve most problems when it comes to conservation; in many cases, they create them for political gain. Unfortunately, these endangered animals, Tigers, Whales and dolphins have no votes, and bound to perish in the hands of man.
~ B O O K S ~
LIVING JEWELS FROM THE INDIAN JUNGLE: Edited by Kothari & C