Roar for Tigers

‘Was local NGO equipped to survey birds in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve?’

‘Was local NGO equipped to survey birds in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve?’

Dec 8, 2014

PILIBHIT: The report prepared by an NGO after counting the number of bird species in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) on November 28 and 29 is set to be submitted to the head office of the PTR soon. There are, however, questions about the authenticity of the whole counting process. The NGO, Kartania Ghat Foundation (KGF), has operated on a small scale, and environmentalists are now questioning why, when more established players like World Wildlife Fund exist, this NGO was commissioned for the job. District forest officer Kailash Prakash, prior to the bird species count, had offered media persons a list of 30 names, of people that the NGO would draw on to carry out the survey. In the list were people from Bhutan, West Bengal, Manipur, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gwalior. Local environmentalist TH Khan said it was necessary to check whether those listed had indeed been part of the team. TOI asked DFO Prakash whether he knew of the experience and qualifications of those involved in the bird count. He answered that the permission to count bird species in the reserve was granted to the NGO by the principal chief conservator of forests at Lucknow, and he had not been provided any details in the matter.


Image courtesy – Shreyo Sengupta

TH Khan, however, was surprised that local officials had not been informed of the experience and qualifications of those assigned the task. “This raises questions on the authenticity of the whole exercise,” Khan said. He said the report of bird species should be cross-examined by an expert organization with established record in conducting such surveys, like the Bombay Natural History Society.  Environmentalist Parvez Hanif too said that given that there were others better equipped to conduct such surveys, it was surprising that a tiny NGO like Katarnia Ghat Foundation was given such an important assignment. Asked why the forest department could not undertake the survey of its own, the DFO said foresters count only vultures, and the department does not keep tabs of the different bird species. The DFO added that in the first phase of counting, the NGO had identified 154 bird species in PTR. The second phase of the work is scheduled for March next year. The counting will be completed in three phases. The foresters had counted 125 vultures in the Faizulla Ganj forest area of the tiger reserve. There were 51 more vultures last year.



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