The Thousand Tigers Website

This site provides information and links about an area of Eastern India containing a significant proportion of the world's remaining wild tigers. This ecosystem is stressed but still functioning, but the vital forest corridors connecting core habitat areas are under threat. One of the major threats is from coal mining, which was originally funded in part by the World Bank, who were directly financing 25 mines for the first stage of the project. These mines were to be examples of sound environmental practice, but completely failed to consider the effects on forest corridors. The World Bank's loan was cancelled in July 2000 following intense international pressure, but mining still continues, threatening connecting habitat.

The "Thousand Tigers" name is a translation of the Hindi name "Hazaribagh", which is a town near to the North Karanpura Valley in Jharkhand State. An article, "Land of a Thousand Tigers" , was published in Sanctuary Asia magazine 1997 which details how the mining will affect connecting tiger habitats in four Indian States - Bihar (now divided into Bihar State and Jharkhand State), Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Click here to see a map of directly funded World Bank mines.


NEWS UPDATES

Recent news is below - for past news please view the Updates Archive.


June 2002

More elephant conflicts reported.

Human-elephant conflicts  continue to be reported, such as the following. These are frequently due to habitat destruction from mining activities.

Tusker menace in Dumka (from The Hindustan Times, Ranchi Edn., 10 June 2002)

“ Minister for food & civil supplies Devidhan Besra, on Monday, was held hostage for around   six hours in Durgapur under Gopikandore Block in Dumka district by irate villagers who were demanding immediate compensation for the losses they have suffered due to the tusker menace in the area… The immediate provocation was the damages in Chirudi, Mugaldabar, and Madhuban villages in the block. A herd of 12 elephants ran over the villages leaving behind a trail of destruction including 18 damaged houses in Chirudi, 20 in Mugaldabar and 17 in Madhuban. The villagers blocked the Dumka-Amrapada road from 5 am as no officials from the administration came to their rescue. … The protesters demanded immediate payment of Rs.25,000 for every family hit by the elephant menace, a house each and other compensation. They have also demanded the immediate reinforcement of trained forest personnel to save them from the ordeal.”

Town and Roadside Trees Under Threat in Jharkhand by World Bank funded Project

A campaign is now being coordinated at the Sanskriti Centre , against indiscrimate cutting of trees in the region. The World Bank is again involved, as is confirmed in the following letter received by the Sanskriti Centre. Highways in the region are being upgraded to handle the heavy increase in coal truck traffic.


To:Mr.Bulu Imam
INTACH,
Hazaribagh                                    May 27th 2002

Dear Mr.Imam,

Sub: Your letter of April 26,2002, to Mr.Wolfensohn regarding tree felling in Jharkhand.

Thank you for the above mentioned letter highlighting your concern which we also share. In this context we would like to mention that Bank funded projects, in general, are implemented on the basis of Environmental Management Plans which are satisfactory to the Bank as well as to the relevant environmental authorities at the state and central governmental levels.

The Bank is supporting the strengthening and widening to four lanes of National Highways #2 under the Third National Highway and Grand Trunk Road Improvements projects which are currently under implementation. Of the mentioned stretched in your letter, the Dhanbad – Giridih section falls under these projects. During design stage, efforts were made to minimize tree cutting keeping in mind other social, environmental and engineering constraints. During the project preparation process consultations with NGOs, forest department and the people from the region were carried out. All mandatory clearances related to forests and environment were obtained from central Ministry of Environment and Forests and State forest department. The National Highway Authority of India is implementing the project and compensatory tree planting will be done on the basis of a tree plantation strategy finalized after the consultation process mentioned above.

We are also copying this letter to the National Highways Authority for their reference and information.

With best wishes

Sincerely,

Guang Z.Chen
Sector Manager, Transport
South Asia Region
The World Bank,
1818 H Street N.W
Washington D.C. 20433
U.S.A.

C.C: Mr.Deepak Dasgupta
Chairman
National Highways Authority of ndia
G-5 & 6, Sector 10,Dwarka,
New Delhi-110045.


Apr. 2002

DECREASE IN TIGER NUMBERS IN PALAMAU TIGER RESERVE

The following report was received from the environmental NGO Wild Orissa (e-mail: wildorissa@HOTMAIL.COM)

The Palamau Tiger Reserve in Jharkhand state has witnessed a decrease in the number of tigers as per the last tiger census conducted there during this winter. As per this the current figure stands at 32, as compared to 40 conducetd in May 2001. This time the census was done during winters for the first time, and the local authorities claim that this was one of the reasons as to why the exact numbers could not be obtained. The methodology of pugmark census was adopted in this tiger reserve. Wild Orissa feels that with the ongoing war against naxalism has perhaps contributed to the downfall of the tigers. A figure of 32 for a reserve of the size of Palamau does not augur well for the future of the tigers in Jharkhand. The tiger reserve was divided into 132 sub-beats, out of which the census could not be carried out in 10! areas due to extremist threats.

Compounding the problems are the factors of almost complete disappearance of tigers from the once famous Hazaribagh National Park (this as ascertained by the members of Wild Orissa on visits to Hazaribagh in recent times), and severage of tiger corridors in the tribal districts of Jharkhand. As per Wild Orissa, on many visits to the famous Saranda forests in Jharkhand by it’s members, the picture is bad, as for many years now the evidences of the presence of tigers are becoming more and more difficult to come across. Huge patches of forests are being felled for being brought under agriculture. Tiger sightings here has become nonexistent for about 3-4 years now, which goes to show that the major tiger habitat of Saranda, which forms a contiguos belt of tiger movement in the states of Jharkhand and Orissa was in real danger of being relegated to history. Wild Orissa is undertaking an important study of the presnce of tigers! in the forest belts of Saranda, Koira, Calta, Tensa, etc., t! o ascertain as to whether there was any future for the tigers in this belt. It is a very important fact the movement of tigers was possible from Palamau to Saranda, and if this movement could be sustained then a major tiger habitat could be saved. The census in the Palamau Reserve showed up a slight rise in leopards from 53 to 58, elephants from 174 to 188, cheetal from 12,006 to 13,305 and sambras from 2,512 to 2,620.


Illegal Mining Still a Problem

"Hazaribagh, Jharia and Dhanbad together contribute almost two-third of the national coal produce. The produce in illegal mining here is in fact double. The abandoned CCL mines are still frequented to churn out the black gold, whatever is left of it. Every day two to three hundred trucks of coal from one mining area push off to destinations in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They are never stopped midway because they are armed with faxed sales tax numbers, forged permits and fictitious company names. The police are aware of the goings-on." (from a news item in the Hindustan Times, Ranchi, April 6)

In the event of the coal expansion programme in the Upper Damodar valley and the new railway being built from Koderma to Barkakana to haul coal, it is expected that the same will happen in the new mines planned in the upper Damodar in the North Karanpura valley where huge losses to the environment will result from the mining. If half of all the coal raised is stolen, then what is the sense of raising it?


Mar. 2002

New Elephant reserve in Jharkhand State.

The proposed reserve is in the Singhbum region of Jhrakhand, according to Jharkhand government notification # Wildlife/33/2000-3640 dated 26th September 2001:

Total geographical area: 13440.00 sq. km
Non forest area           :   8910.10 sq. km
Forest area                 :   4529.90 sq. km

Sources in the area indicate that the area is threatened by iron ore mining and encroachment. The project appears significant for the support from both State and Central governments, and is widely spread across the state (not just the Singhbum area) with regard to bamboo plantations and water reserves. Man-elephant conflict has been an increasing problem due to habitat destruction from mining activity, and this may indicate greater official recognition of the importance of conserving contiguous habitat outside of reserves.

Excerpts from related newspaper articles are given below.



First Elephant Reserve in Jharkhand

The Jharkhand Govt. has announced the creation of an Elephant Reserve, the proposal for which has been accepted by the central Government.

Rs. 6.25 Crores have been sanctioned by the Centre for work to be undertaken in Ranchi, Singhbhum, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Chatra, Latehar and Daltonganj. The State has proposed to use the money for large scale bamboo plantation and for the construction of huge reservoirs for water for the elephants.

Source: Abhijit Sen, "Country's first elephant reserve in Jharkhand".
The Times of India, 10/10/2001



An interesting tender for capture and training of wild elephants from the Jharkhand government appeared in the Kolkata edition of "The Statesman" newspaper on 13 March 2002.

(excerpt follows)

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF CONSERVATOR OF FORESTS-CUM-CHIEF WILDLIFE WARDEN JHARKHAND, “VAN BHAVAN”, P.O. HINOO, RANCHI-834002

Tender Notice

Sealed tenders are invited on plain paper from the “Kunki” elephant owners for departmental capture of wild elephants (number to be decided depending upon the need) of height 165cms. and above as will be decided by the Forests Department Officials by the method of “Mela Shikar” and subsequent training in “Assam Method” in the forests and neighboring areas of Ranchi/ Singhbhum/ Palamau/Hazaribagh/ Dumka Districts of Jharkhand.

The quotations are to be submitted, quoting the rates per elephant captured for different items as indicated bellow:
(1) Capture of wild elephant (165 cms. and above height) by Mela Shikar
 method using at least two “Kunkis”.
(2) Capture of wild elephant by tranquilization, if necessary.
(3) Training of the captured elephant up to the stage the elephant will be
 able to bring its own fodder and obeys the command.


Map of North Karanpura Valley Corridors

The following map of the threatened North Karanpura Valley corridors is provided by courtesy of CISMHE (Centre for Inter-Disciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environments, Univ. of Delhi).

For higher resolution versions of this and a map showing threatened Cultural Heritage Sites, please click on the links below:

Map 1 - North Karanpura Valley Wildlife Corridors (104kb)

Map 2 - North Karanpura Valley Cultural Heritage Sites (118kb)

There is a map of India at the Project Tiger Control Room . The North Karanpura corridor links Palamau Tiger Reserve, which is shown on the map, to the Konar watershed, which is excellent tiger habitat.


Sal Forest Corridor near the Netarhart Range of Hills

BUDDHIST HERITAGE THREATENED

Bihar is where the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni, achieved enlightenment and carried out his early ministry. The Hazaribagh region is rich in Buddhist cultural treasures, many of which are being destroyed by the North Karanpura Valley mining expansion. For more information, click on the link below:

Lord Buddha In Hazaribagh



Tribal Adivasi Villagers with Traditional Artwork

More Links

The Five Tigers Website

Run by the International Tiger Information Centre (ITIC) in conjunction with Minnesota Zoo, this is one of the most important collections of information related to tiger conservation on the Internet.

The Berne Declaration Home Page - Switzerland and Sustainable Development

The Berne Declaration is a non-profit organization which works on the problems of unconstrained lending by organizations such as the World Bank, because of Switzerland's importance as an international financial centre. Peter Bosshard has been working on the Indian Coal Sector Rehabilitation Loan from the World Bank.

The Berne Declaration - Article on the Indian Coal Sector

This powerful article details the problems, both humanitarian and environmental, associated with the Coal Sector Expansion.

From the World Bank's Web Site - India: Rehabilitation of the Coal Sector

This article gives the World Bank's justification for the Indian Coal Sector Rehabilitation Loan.

Sanctuary Asia Magazine

Sanctuary Asia, India's leading wildlife, conservation and environment magazine, was started by editor Bittu Sahgal in
1981 to raise awareness among Indians of their disappearing natural heritage. It has played an important role in fighting for habitat conservation in the face of mega-projects such as the coal sector expansion.

The Sanskriti Centre

Sanskriti Centre was brought into being by Bulu Imam and his family as a continuing process through the last decade of the
twentieth century. It was based upon the premise that people, and peoples, especially indigenous ones, had a right to celebrate
themselves and their cultures to the applause of the world. This idea started the various initiatives that the Centre is now famous
for, such as the tribal arts project. One of the compelling characteristics the Centre was designed to convey was a tribal village
atmosphere conducive to villagers, with the attributes of the outside world enabling it to act as an extension resource. It thus
became a spokesperson for the unheard and unseen. As an extension of itself the Centre reached out to post-modern
intellectuals and implemented the intellectual satyagraha against destructive development, especially coal mining, in the pristine
watershed of the river Damodar in its wide and wonderful cobra headed watershed. The documentation and research archives
of the Centre have grown to be a precious resource for research, and have led to the making of over one dozen cine and video
films over the past decade on the culture and environment of the region.The Centre has a very good Museum and Art Gallery.

Sustainable Energy & Economy Network

This a frequently updated site with excellent information on the campaign to promote more environmentally sound energy approaches. It has a great deal on the World Bank's approach to this issue in the developing world, and the ongoing rush to embrace fossil fuels.