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Introduction 

The Palamau Tiger Reserve lies in the western part of the Chhotanagpur plateau in Bihar state of India. The forest stretches from the edge of the Netarhat hill range in the south to the Auranga river in the north and from the Latehar-Sarju road in the east to Madhya Pradesh border in the west. The forest of Palamau is the catchment of the river North Koel.

Palamau is the land of Palas and Mahua (and represents the biological riches of the dry and moist deciduous eastern peninsular forests with an interesting association of Sal and Bamboo.

The verdant landscape of the Reserve is clothed with stately Sal in the valleys and lower slopes, and with dry deciduous forests on the upper slopes and on the mound caps in the northern part. Copious bamboo and scattered open grassy patches are common. Almost pure patches of Bel (Aegle marmelos) are unique vegetation types mostly found in the northern part of the reserve.

The track is undulating and the important hills are Murhu, Netarhat, Huluk and Gulgul. Gulgul is the highest hill. Hill slops are steep in southern part and gentle in the northern part of the Reserve.

There are many water falls. A few of them - Mirchaia Water Fall near Garu, Suga Bandh Water Fall near Baresand and Lodh Fall, which is the highest water fall in the Bihar State - are major tourist attraction. There is a hot water spring, Tataha Pani, near Barwadih.

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Conservation History  

Palamau Tiger Reserve was created at the time when Project Tiger was in India in 1973.

The present area of the Reserve got duly constituted either as Protected Forest or Reserved Forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 way back in 1947.

Prior to the creation of Palamau Tiger Reserve, the management of these forests was highly commercial. There were some cattle camps and the area was open to grazing. The entire forest area used to be ravaged by fires every year. Poaching too was rampant.

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Census 

Wildlife population estimations

           
Animal
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
 
  Tiger
  44
  49
  50
  41
  44
  Leopard
  60
  60
  61
  60
  64
  Cheetal
  15232
  15318
  15859
  13014
  --
  Sambar
  2758
  3029
  1881
  2158
  --
  Bison
  721
  740
  593
  517
  --
  Wild Boar
  7741
  6890
  6943
  8598
  --
  Elephant
  119
  140
  155
  158
  --
  Nilgai
  138
  52
  59
  73
  --
  Wild Dog
  435
  646
  409
  186
  --
  Hyena
  39
  41
  --
  120
  --
  Peafowl
  4131
  4705
  --
  4196
  --
  Hare
  937
  1346
  1260
  1259
  --
  Barking Deer
  2092
  1834
  1861
  1841
  --
  Chausinga
  6
  6
  --
  --
  --
  Monkey
  35098
  38035
  37983
  42438
  --
  Langur
  31079
  28894
  42563
  28788
  --
  Sloth Bear
  118
  369
  310
  200
  --
  Wolf
  259
  290
  204
  306
  --

 



Archeology   

Palamau Fort of the great tribal king of Palamau, Sri Medini Roy, is situated inside the Reserve in the Betla area. There are ruins of two forts situated at New Qila on a hillock and Old Qila on the bank of the river Oranga.

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Forest Types 

Moist Peninsular Sal, Dry peninsular Sal,Dry Bamboo Brakes,Northern dry mixed deciduous,Moist peninsular low level Sal,Northern secondary moist deciduous,Aegle Forests

Major Flora

Main Species

Shorea robusta, Acacia catechu, Butea monosperma, Madhuca indica, Terminalia tomentosa, Pterocarpus marsupium, Adina cardifolia, Anogeisus latifolia, Indigofera pulchela, Moghania spp, Mallotus phillipinensis, Holarrhena antidysentrica, Bothriochloa montana, Apluda mutica, Chrtsopogan montanus,, Themeda spp., Chloris spp, Heteropogon contortus, Albizzia lebbek, Bauhinia spp., Chloroxylon swietnia, Lagerstroemia parviflora, Diospyros melanoxylon, Buchhanania lanzan, Bridelia retusa, Bombax ceiba, Mitragyna parviflora, Lannea coromandlica, Holoptelia integrifolia, Imperata arudinacea, Dendrocalamus strictus

Major Fauna

Main Species

Mammals:

Tiger, Leopard, Cheetal, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wolf, Wild Dog, Elephant, Mouse Deer, Pangolin, Fourhorned Antelope and Indian Ratel.

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Management  

Practices, Achievements and Shortfalls

The management takes up ameliorative actions and compensatory developments. The northern part of the buffer zone of the Reserve there is heavy Lantana infestation.

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Special Projects 

New Initiatives

Eco-development

Eco-development, a tool for conservation of natural resources has been initiated under India Eco-development Project.

Village Forest Protection Committees

A few Forest Committees were constituted in Daltonganj South Forest Division about five years ago but they have become inactive.

Protection Squads / Patrolling

Joint patrolling by field staff and police is done and raids are organised as and when required.

Nature Interpretation Centre at Betla, has been built for environmental education and awareness.

Education and Awareness

Nature Interpretation Centre at Betla, has been built for environmental education and awareness.

Constraints  

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Funds

The release of fund is generally delayed. Due to late release of funds, activities like habitat improvement, fire protection, road repair, payment of compensation to villagers and maintenance and improvement of waterholes, which are crucial for wildlife management are not carried out properly. Since the area is already under stress due to excessive cattle grazing and bad law and order problem, the delay in release of funds complicate the whole situation further.

Infrastructure

Inadequate. There are four trucks, 4 jeeps and a medical van in running condition. Other vehicles are not serviceable. At least 4 more jeeps are required. There is also need of additional 24 wireless hand sets.

Livestock Population

There is a pressure of about 70,000 cattle heads form the villages in and around the Reserve. An additional 15,000 number of cattle come from villages situated at 30 to 40 km. distance from the Reserve.

Human population

The population has grown many fold in the surrounding areasThere are three tribal villages, Ramandag, Latoo and Kujrum, in the core. The human and cattle populations in these villages are 549 and 643 respectively. These people belong to Oraon, Kherwar, Korwa, Munda and Birjia tribes. There are 72 village in the buffer zone of the Reserve and an additional 113 around it within the radius of 5 km. The total human population in these villages has been projected at over 1,16,549 out of which 39,000 people are living within the Reserve boundary.

Grazing

The villagers graze cattle all over the Reserve. They are traditionally allowed grazing in the buffer zone only.

Fire

Fires are often man made. On an average 5.3 percent of the Reserve is affected every year by fire, resulting in degradation of natural forests and hampering regeneration.

Poaching of fauna and flora

The reserve is affected by illicit felling of Khair (Acacia catachu) and Teak (Tectona grandis) trees. More often than not, the offenders undertake illegal activities in large groups and are often armed with lethal weapons, including guns. Lack of trained protection/police force is a major managerial constraint in controlling the menace of illicit katha (a product of heart wood of Acacia catachu) manufacture. There are cases of poaching of animals through muzzle loaded local guns, poisoning and noose

Poaching of fauna and flora



   
   
   
   
   
     
     
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Year
Poaching
Animal
Number
1995
  Tiger
Leopard
Python
  1
3
1
1996
  Cheetal
  1
1997
  Elephant
Barking Deer
Cheetal
Bison
  2
1
2
1
1998
  Elephant
  2
 
     
  Table of offence cases during last five years  
     
 
Year
Total No. of cases
  1994
  3
  1995
  71
  1996
  90
  1997
  161
  1998
  230
 
     
  Criminals and Extremists  
     
 
Armed extremists are present in the Reserve. This has affected the administration, particularly at the level of forester and forest guard. These functionaries are not in a position to enforce the law and regulations on their own. In fact, they have given in writing that they will not go on raids without the help of the police. The District Administration is also not in a position to provide proper police support to the reserve due to paucity of the force in the district.
 
     
  Highways  
     
 
The Daltonganj-Ranchi State highway passes through the northern fringe of the Reserve.
 
     
  Diseases  
     
  Sometimes FMD and Anthrax affect wild animals.  
     
  Encroachment  
     
  The project area is by and large free from encroachment.  
     
  Mining  
     
  There is a proposal to start underground coal mining near Horilong about 1.6 km. from the Reserve boundary. This proposal is under consideration of the Central Government.  
     
  Dam  
     
 
The Kutku Dam of the North Koel Multipurpose Hydroelectric Project, which would flood 15 villages (of which 5 are within the Reserve) can indirectly threaten Palamau Tiger Reserve. If the dam is made operational, the people living in the submergence zone may encroach upon the forest area of the Reserve because the Water Resources Department has not yet complied with the stipulation laid down by the Government of India under the Forest Conservation Act 1980, regarding rehabilitation of villagers. It is therefore necessary that the people affected due to the submergence are relocated suitably.
 
     
  Draught  
     
  Severe drought occurs almost every five years.  
     
  Control of the Buffer  
     
 
The Buffer zone is under the control of the management of the tiger Reserve except for about 15 sq. km. of forest area, which is under dual control. The transfer of this area to the Reserve has already been notified by the Government of Bihar.
 
     
     
  Conflicts      Top  
     
  Man-Animal  
     
 
Farmers resent crop and livestock losses due to wild animals.
 
     
     
  Action Points      Top  
     
 
   
Posting of Quality Staff:
Post quality staff in Reserve. If it is not possible to post young forest guards, it would be advisable to keep the posts of forest guard vacant till suitable persons are found. The field staff need to be compulsorily trained in wildlife management. Short duration staff training may be organised at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun or any other regional or State Wildlife Training institutions.
2.
Posting of Armed Police:
Keeping in view the bad law and order situation due to extremist activity in the Reserve area, Government of Bihar has directed the DGP, Bihar to post 4 X 16 Bihar Military Police force exclusively for the protection of the Tiger Reserve. Necessary follow-up steps to be taken up for immediate compliance of this order. This will go a long way in containing the activities of anti-social elements in the Reserve.
3.
Funds:
A Central core fund should be created for direct funding to the Field Director to address critical management issues viz.,

Payment of compensation to villagers for cattle kills and crop damage.

Fire protection; maintenance of water holes during pinch period; maintenance of grasslands (habitat improvement works); payment of wages to temporary staff engaged in anti-poaching activities; and maintenance of vehicles.

The entire establishment under the Project Tiger should be declared permanent by the State Government and borne on Non-plan budget of the State.

4.
Crop Damage Compensation:
Allocation of crop compensation should be enhanced and procedure for payment of compensation should be simplified. Assessment of crop damage and payment of crop compensation should be done by the Gram Sabha through its executive. A proposal of this effect has already been submitted to the Government.
 
     
   

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