Thursday, February 5, 2009

Protected Area Update - Vol XV, No. 1, February 2009, (No. 77)

News and Information from protected areas in India and South Asia

Vol. XV No. 1
February 2009 (No.77)

A departure too soon (Remembering Dr. Ravi Sankaran)


Tribals engaged to protect Kawal WLS
Study finds Pulicat under severe threat

Seismic survey in Brahmaputra riverbed opposed; impact on Gangetic dolphin feared
Winter apparel donated to Kaziranga NP staff
Militants lay siege on anti-poaching camp in Kaziranga NP
Kaziranga elephants on rampage in Kaliabor area
Over 100 rhino deaths in Kaziranga in 2008

Diesel engine steamer boats causing noise pollution in Pong Dam Bird

FD to set up 9 van thanas; forest officials to get powers to arrest
FD to lease out guesthouses, sites for tourism
Breeding projects for endangered species

Team reviews tusker safety at Dalma WLS

The Greater Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary proposal opposed

Forum for wetland protection by 2009

Two tigresses to be translocated from Bandavgarh to Panna TR
Cops allegedly involved in tiger poaching at Kanha TR
Tourists taken into Kanha NP at night to see gaur killed by tiger
NTCA opposes highway widening project at Pench TR

Gaur translocation plans stalled following NTCA opposition

RFO posts lie vacant in Tadoba-Andhari TR
Coal mining leases in vicinity of Tadoba Andhari
Govt. admits that wrong tiger was killed as man-eater in Tadoba in 2007
Sanjay Gandhi NP seeks more lions for safari

Three leopard safaris for state

Mining stopped near Balpakhram NP

Tourists flock to Satkosia
14 fishermen held for entering Gahirmatha marine sanctuary acquitted
Poachers employ minors to hunt migratory birds at Chilika

Over one lakh birds counted at Bhitarkanika this season
Poachers injure Bhitarkanika forest guard
Meeting held to discuss conservation and livelihood issues of Simlipal BR

No tigress for Sariska from Ranthambhore NP

Directory of environmentalists released
Rs Two crore for Project Tiger in TN
Huge protest against Mudumalai CTH

Confusion over wildlife reserve proposal; locals fear massive displacement

FD again sends back Army’s proposal for land to replace Raiwala depot
Elephant population in state down by 250

Efforts to protect Gangetic River dolphins
263 ghariyals to be released into the wild from Kukrail

Mobile veterinary service for North Bengal wildlife
Proposal for new rail line to avoid elephant deaths in Dooars

FD, villagers trade charges over tiger attacks in Sunderbans

Central Assistance for relocation for villages from Tiger Reserves
Sanctuary Wildlife Awards 2008
Dr. Aparajita Datta selected for the 2009 Women of Discovery Award
Dog squad to sniff out illegal wildlife trade

110 tigers dead in last six years
India Biodiversity portal launched

-Steps proposed to deal with farmer-wildlife conflict

Wangchuk Centenary Park inaugurated

International Police Group to Tackle Wildlife Trafficking Crime Syndicates

Call for proposals for conservation projects in the Western Ghats
Openings at the BNHS

National Symposium on Prosopis
International seminar on Protected Area Management



It was just as we were finalizing this issue of the PA Update, we got the shattering news that Dr. Ravi Sankaran had passed away after suffering a massive heart attack on January 17. It was difficult to believe at first, but as the news sank in, there was only a sense of huge sadness and deep loss. In his sudden demise the world of conservation has lost one of its most passionate, dedicated and innovative advocates.
His work on floricans, his studies of the Nicobari Megapode and Edible Nest Swiftlet in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and analysis of the impact of the earthquake and tsunami of December 2004 on the ecology of the islands were path breaking. He tirelessly argued to allow ranching of the nest of the Edible Nest Swiftlet in the islands as a new paradigm for conservation that ensured people’s participation and also got them economic benefits. He was working on an ambitious project in Nagaland to build up the capacities of local communities and set up institutions to protect the forests and wildlife there, and more recently he had also taken over as Director of the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Nature (SACON), the institution he was associated with for a long time and deeply committed to as well.
We all have to make our departure, but when someone leaves at the very prime of his life and career, leaves so suddenly and particularly when that man is Ravi Sankaran, there can only be a vacuum. With Ravi around there was never a dull moment. He was gregarious and full of curiosity, fun and laughter. He pushed many boundaries and his great skill and capacity lay in the fact that he encouraged and showed many others how they should and could push their own limits. His was an unique personality, one that seamlessly harmonized innumerable polarities: unbearable, yet endearing at the same time; sharply critical and yet fully understanding of the same issue; quick to notice an error and quicker to admit to one of his own; challenging and inspiring; wickedly witty and deeply deeply compassionate.
Many of us in Kalpavriksh had the chance of knowing him, working with him, of being influenced by him and hopefully, of influencing him a bit as well. Many knew him personally and others knew him in more professional contexts like when he joined a workshop on community conservation in Nagaland that we had organized three years ago. We are all rich for those experiences, and poorer now that there will be no more such occasions.
Like many others I too feel immensely privileged and fortunate that I could consider Ravi a friend. I first met him nearly a decade ago, and in the years that have followed had many priceless opportunities of spending time with him in the field, particularly in the Andaman Islands. As I write this, there is an endless string of memories and images that flash by – the aristocratic √©lan which he smoked his pipe with; that warm hug at Chennai airport when we were meeting after a long time; sharing a meal with him and his field staff in the islands; his long pony tail, those many discussions and the many disagreements…and yes, that comment about the PA Update too. It was, if I remember right, a couple of years ago when I asked him if he thought the PA Update was useful and relevant. “Hey, stop sending it to me,” he said dismissively and without batting an eyelid, “I don’t read it anyway.” He then mumbled something to the effect that it might actually be an useful thing and I must continue working on it. Provocative, challenging, irreverent, and incisively brilliant– Ravi was all this and much more. He was a master in delivering the unexpected; in leaving people dumbfounded and groping for answers. On January 17th, he did it again; the only difference this time being that we’ll be groping much longer and he won’t even be there to help us out.
Many who read this will have their own memories and thoughts of Ravi. Please share these with us and we’d like to share it with all the others in the forthcoming issues of the PA Update. It might help us all deal with an immeasurable loss. The loss that his family feels cannot, perhaps, even be fathomed and we offer them our deepest condolences.

- Pankaj Sekhsaria

Vol. XV, No. 1, February 2009 (No. 77)

Editor: Pankaj Sekhsaria
Editorial Assistance: Wrutuja Pardeshi
Illustrations: Madhuvanti Anantharajan

Produced by: Kalpavriksh
Ideas, comments, news and information may please be sent to the editorial address:

KALPAVRIKSH, Apartment 5, Shri Dutta Krupa, 908 Deccan Gymkhana, Pune 411004, Maharashtra, India. Tel/Fax: 020 – 25654239.

Production of PA Update 77 has been supported by Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), Anand.

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