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Tiger Reserve Service Directory
 
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Introduction  


Panna is situated in the Vindhyan Range and spreads over Panna and Chhatarpur districts in the northern part of the Madhya Pradesh (M.P.) State of India.

One of the most significant ecological aspects of the Reserve is that the district Panna makes the northern most boundary of natural distribution of teak and the eastern limits of teak-kardhai mixed forests.

The Ken river, which flows through the Reserve from south to north, is the home for long snouted crocodile (gharial) and Marsh Crocodile (maggar) and other aquatic fauna. It is one of the sixteen perennial rivers of M.P. and is truly the life-line of the Reserve. It offers some of the most spectacular scenery while it meanders for about 55 km. through the Reserve.

The terrain of the Reserve is characterised by extensive plateaus and gorges. The topography in the Panna district part of the Reserve can broadly be divided into three distinct tablelands - the upper Talgaon Plateau, the middle Hinouta Plateau and the Ken valley while there are series of undulating hills and plateaus on the other side of Ken river in the Chhatarpur district.

The Reserve's most undisturbed habitat of about 70-80 sq. km. lies on the Hinouta plateau. This is due to relocation of three villages from this area in 1980s. Dry and short grass habitat with open woodland is quite extensive. It supports Blue Bull (nilgai) and chinkara. The areas with tall grasses associated with woodland, support good densities of sambar and chital. Mesic areas are distributed along the major seasonal streams and in the Ken river valley. Steep slopes of plateaus are drier and are dominated by Acacia catachu. Distribution of these habitats creates a heterogeneous landscape, where ecological conditions vary seasonally.

Panna Tiger Reserve is most important PA in the north-central highlands of India, as it links the eastern and western populations of wild animals through the NE-SW running Vindhyan ranges.

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Conservation History

Panna National Reserve was created in 1981. It was declared a Project Tiger Reserve in 1994, 22nd in the country and fifth in the state. The National Reserve consists of areas from the former Gangau Wildlife Sanctuary created in 1975. This sanctuary comprised of territorial forests of the present North Panna Forest Division to which a portion of the adjoining Chhatarpur Forest Division was added later. The reserved forests of the Reserve in Panna district and some protected forests on Chhatarpur district were the hunting preserves of the erstwhile rulers of Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijawar princely states.

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Census      

Wildlife population estimations

           
Animal
1993
1995
1996
1997
1998
 
  Tiger
  23
  22-27
  23-28
  22-24
  21
  Leopard
  13
  25-27
  28-30
  31
  32
  Nilgai
  985
  1314
  1507
  1925
  1961
  Chinkara
  650
  400
  661
  831
  751
  Chousinga
  106
  101
  139
  144
  147
  Chital
  467
  410
  522
  842
  669
  Sambhar
  544
  892
  962
  892
  1084
  Rhesus macaque
  --
  --
  --
  --
  418
  Langur
  --
  --
  --
  --
  3408
  Wild boar
  --
  --
  --
  --
  70

 

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Archeology     

The Reserve is dotted with ancient rock paintings, which are believed to be around two thousand years old. Old relics of Gondwana period (rule of the tribal people of Central India) are scattered all over the Reserve.

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Forest Types  

Southern tropical dry deciduous dry teak ,Northern tropical dry deciduous mixed forest ,Dry deciduous scrub forest ,Boswellia forest ,Dry bamboo brakes , Anogeissus pendula forest .

Major Flora

Main Species

Tree:

Tectona grandis, Diospyrous melanoxylon, Madhuca indica, Buchanania tanzan, Anogeissus latifolia, Anogeissus pendula, Lannea coromandalica, Boswellia serrata, Acacia catechu, Zizyphus spp., Aegle marmelos, Butea monosperma and Gardenia spp.

Major Fauna

Main Species

Mammlas:

Tiger, Jungle Cat, Leopard, Hyena, Wild Dog, Wolf, Sloth Bear, Sambhar, Chital, Nilgai, Chinkara, Chausinga, Porcupine, Jungle Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Hare, Ratel and Tree Shrew .

Reptile :

Long snouted crocodile (gharial) and Marsh Crocodile (mugger) are found in the Ken river.

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Management  

Practices, Achievements and Shortfalls

1.
The Reserve has a wireless network for about ten years now. It has proved useful in taking quick action in case of forest offences.
2.
Two veterinary dispensaries have been built during the past two years in two peripheral villages and a third one is under construction in another outside village. Cattle immunisation is done every year in enclaved and border villages through the local Veterinary Department.
3.
Survey and demarcation of the Reserve boundary and construction of cattle proof trench (CPT) and cattle proof wall (CPW) has been done over major areas to control grazing and encroachments.
4.
Overgrazing results in invasion of weeds. Weed removal programme is carried subjected to availability of funds and as per ground requirements.
5.
Development of water sources is being done through the construction of check dams and contour trenching so that water is available in the lean period. Creation and deepening of water holes is also done in suitable areas on year to year basis.
6.
Fire protection works like controlled burning, fire line maintenance are carried out every year.
7.
Protection of fauna and flora of the Reserve.

Achievements

Density of vegetation has improved over the years. Grasses have become more and more palatable. Fruit bearing trees and shrubs have also grown adequately.

Herbivores are sighted easily both in the interior as also on the periphery of the Reserve.

Water regime is also showing signs of improvement as water stays longer in waterholes.

In spite of very dry climatic conditions and high temperatures during summers, the average annual fire affected area is not more than 10-12 per cent of the total area.

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Special Projects  

1.
Study of tiger ecology, is being done by Mr. Neel Gogate, Researcher, under the supervision of Dr. R.S. Chundawat (Wildlife Institute of India) since December, 1995.
2.
Study of sloth bear ecology is being done by Mr. T.R.K. Yoganang, Researcher, under the supervision of Mr. A.J.T. Johnsingh (WII) and Dr. Cliff J. Rice of USFWS, since January, 1996.
3.
A joint collaborative project called "Planning and Developing Interpretive Facilities for Panna National Park" has been started in 1998-99. The participating constituents are WII, USFWS and MPFD.
.

New Initiatives

Eco-development

A short term consultancy project has been taken up by WII on "Assessment of Impact Zone around Panna National Park" in 1998-99. This Project will also give on-the-spot training to the front line staff of the Reserve on ecodevelopment issues and will develop a manual of ecodevelopment planning (in Hindi) for range level staff.

Village Forest Protection Committees

Already 13 Forest Committees have been formed around the Reserve. Of these, 9 committees have taken up ecodevelopment activities under the MP Forestry Project.

Protection Squads / Patrolling

During monsoon special protection squads carry out foot patrolling, to curb hunting of sambar and wild boar by local people. Similar squads are established during summer, for fire protection works.

Infrastructure and Facilities

Absence of a regular patrolling squad has been a handicap. At present one squad is in place for about a year under a forest ranger. Patrolling, on regular basis, is also done by the regular beat guards and game supervisors. One mini truck and one Gypsy are at the disposal of patrolling groups.

Education and Awareness

School children and college students are involved in nature awareness programmes during the annual wildlife week celebrations and also on other occasions. However, looking at the importance of this activity, initiative has been taken to start a nature club at Panna.

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Constraints

Natural limiting factors

The Reserve is open from all sides and villages with high human and cattle populations are situated right on the periphery.

Poor soil conditions, shallow soil depth, low water holding capacity of the soil due to highly layered and fractured sub-strata of the Vindhyan formations, very little or no winter rains, short monsoon period are some of the other limiting factors.

Human population

The population has grown many fold in the surrounding areas, including towns like Panna, Amanganj, Bamitha, etc., bringing additional demand for cultivable land, grazing area, water and forest produce. Unemployment is high and level of education is low.

Enclaved Villages (In all 15 revenue villages)

DISTRICT
Population
 
1971
1981
1991
       
Panna (8 villages)
1862
2094
1070
Chhatarpur (7 villages)
2114
2243
3042
Grand Total
3976
4337
4112

Villages within the radius of 5 km. from the Reserve (in all 46 revenue villages)

DISTRICT
Population
 
1971
1981
1991
       
Panna (30 villages)
13694
17118
23160
Chhatarpur (16 villages)
6616
9622
13945
Grand Total
20310
26740
37105

Livestock population

The cattle population of enclaved villages is 8,658 and that of surrounding villages (5 km. radius) 28,897. It may be pointed out that people of many villages in far-off places do send their cattle during some part of the year to the forests adjoining the Reserve. This enhances the actual biological pressure on the Reserve to at least twice the above size.

Weeds

There is gregarious spread of Lantana camara and Hyptis sauveolens. Lantana is found in almost all valleys and village surroundings, where constant grazing takes place. However it is absent on slopes. Lantana and Hyptis have spread to roughly 30 per cent and 20 per cent of the area respectively.

Encroachment

None in the core area.

Grazing

The Reserve has always been subjected to severe grazing pressure. The cattle population (generally unproductive) in this part of the state is exceptionally high; there is almost an absence of stall feeding practice and the cattle is left loose to graze in forests.

Cattle camps of the National Reserve area have been removed from the Reserve. However, more such camps are still located and new ones keep coming close to the Reserve boundaries. Therefore, in easily accessible border areas the habitat is still degraded. Most of the energy and time of field staff is spent in checking this menace.

Fire

Forest fires are very common in this dry deciduous forest. Plenty of grasses and ample leaf litter get favourable high temperatures, from March to June, to provide conditions for fire, which are all man made.

Fire Case

Year
No. of Cases
Area Affected
     
  1994-95
  82
  5692 ha.
  1995-96
  57
  1393 ha.
  1996-97
  71
  2180 ha.
  1997-98
  30
  572 ha.
  1998-99
  25
  1277 ha.

Poaching of fauna and flora

Fishing in the Ken river is the main poaching activity. Poaching of other animals is sporadic and uncommon.

Illegal removal of firewood, timber (mostly teak), NTFP (Mahua flowers, beedi leaves, fruits of Amla and Achar, bamboo, grasses, medicinal plants etc.) is a continuous menace and puts regular pressure on Reserve resources.

Poaching of fauna and flora

Offences
1998-99
1997-98
1996-97
1995-96
1994-95
 
Illicit felling of timber
  138
  231
  261
  236
  211
Illicit removal of fuelwood
  8
  14
  16
  10
  29
Illicit felling of bamboo
  14
  12 1
  9
  22
  10
Illicit cattle grazing
  189
  393
  498
  321
  281
Encroachment (attempted
  3
  2
  --
  --
  --
Forest fires
  25
  34
  71
  52
  87
Hunting
  16
  15
  41
  27
  11
Others
  27
  27
  10
  275
  2
TOTAL
  721
  730
  916
  693
  631

Criminals and Extremists

Sporadic offences by small groups or individual criminals have been noticed. There are no extremists in the area.

Cultivations

The Gangau dam constructed in 1911-1915 falls inside the Reserve. Every year pattas are given by revenue authorities to the local villagers for cultivation over the fertile land below FTL once the water recedes. This disturbs the wildlife in the area for nine months every year.

Diseases

Common diseases of domestic animals in the area are Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Hemorrhagic Septicemia (HS), Black Quarter (BQ), Anthrax, Rabies or Hydrophobia which are communicable to wild animals.

Mining

Mining for diamonds is being done in Kimberlite pipe at Majhagawan by the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) just outside the boundary of the Reserve, off Hinouta range. It was started before the formation of the Reserve in late 1960s. Diamond mining activity creates the following problems: (a) release of industrial waste in streams which drain in the Ken river, (b) Dumping of unusable debris in the form of huge mounds just in front of the Hinouta gate of the Reserve, (c) Noise due to blasts and heavy machinery, (d) Regular biotic pressure on Reserve for fire wood and fodder from about 1,000 workers of NMDC.

Mining both for diamond and sandstone is rampant in the areas around the reserve. Repeated efforts by the management to curb mining activities, especially in regular forest area, by approaching licensing authorities have been unsuccessful.

Control of the Buffer

The Reserve does not have a buffer. It touches three territorial forest divisions. Commercial forestry activities are on in these divisions right up to the Reserve boundaries. Land use in the peripheral areas is not consistent with the conservation objectives of the Reserve.

The small size of the Reserve, lack of corridors linking it with other Protected Areas, discontinuity from large and extended forested patches beyond Vindhyan ranges and a small population of tigers are serious limitations for long term viability of the tiger population here.

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Conflicts


Man-Animal

The most common cases are of mauling by sloth bear. Tiger or leopard attacks on human beings are rare. The major area of conflict is crop depredation in bordering villages by Nilgai, Chital, Chinkara and Wild boar.

Cases of attacks by wild animals on humans and cattle

Man-Forest

Good forested patches being reduced outside the Reserve, is a cause of conflict. Huge cattle population forces the poor owners, to stealthily send their livestock into the forbidden territory of the Reserve for grazing.

Fuel wood is another area of tension as villagers either do not have alternatives or are not willing to switch over to modern methods.

Teak being one of the most valuable timber, it lures offenders to venture in to the Reserve for illicit cutting.

Trespassing is yet another area of conflict as the short village-to-village routes pass through the Reserve. This problem gets compounded due to the enclaved villages. Similarly, a couple of religious shrines situated within the Reserve limits do raise tensions at least on a few occasions every year.

The overall human activity also leads to several man made forest fires every year in this dry deciduous tract.

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Action Points  


   
The Gangau Sanctuary should be brought under the control of the management of the Reserve.
2.
Ecodevelopment should be extended to more villages. The front-line staff should be given training to make ecodevelopment more effective. A separate team should be in place for carrying out this task.
3.
Vaccination of cattle and sterilisation of poor quality bulls and introduction of improved cattle breeds should be done in nearby villages.
4.
Relocation of remaining villages in the Reserve should be done on a war footing. The concerned revenue authorities should be compelled to finish the job in a fixed time frame.
5.
The managers of surrounding forest divisions should also focus on conservation of wildlife in their respective areas.
6.
Comprehensive survey of the fauna and flora of the Reserve needs to be taken up by research institutes.
7.
Additional posts of Rangers, Foresters and Forest Guards, Clerks, Drivers and Elephant Drivers have been sought from the State Government in view of the protection requirements. These need to be created at the earliest.

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Tiger Reserve Service Directory