Tuesday, June 24, 2014

EPT Survey at Javalagiri - 14/06/2014

Kenneth Anderson nature Society once again rose to the occasion with the help of enthusiastic volunteers to conduct a survey of the EPT (Elephant Proof Trench) at Javalagiri Range of CNWLS, along with the officers and staff of the Tamil Nadu Forest Dept. The survey was carried out in response to the request KANS got from the District Forest Officer of Hosur Forest Division.

The purpose of the survey was to examine the EPT and document the health (capacity to keep elephants away) of the EPT. This has been necessitated due to the alarming number of elephants venturing out of the forest into patta lands, townships, roads etc. in recent times.

Some facts:
  • Nineteen volunteers from KANS participated in the survey.
  • Eight teams were formed to cover approximately 50+ kms. of EPT.
  • Each team was accompanied by a Forest Guard or a Watcher.
  • Each team covered on an avarage 6-9 kms along the EPT.
What is an EPT?
  • Typically an EPT sits between the forest and Patta Land (agricultural land).
  • EPT is about 4 to 5 Ft. wide by about 6 to 7 ft deep.
  • Meant to prevent Elephants crossing across to the agricultural land from the forest.
  • At places where the trench cannot be dug (due to granite surface), a stone wall is erected. 
Modus operandi of EPT survey

  • Team walks along the EPT.
  • Members examine the EPT for its effectiveness in keeping the elephants on the intended side and not allow it to cross over.
  • If the EPT is found to have been compromised (reasons below), then the team does the following:
    • Take GPS coordinates of the place.
    • Take photos.
    • Write description to indicate what has gone wrong and what could be done.

Reasons for EPT losing its effectiveness
  • EPT losing its steep sides due to erosion.
  • Elephants kicking mud into it deliberately in order to get across.
  • Villagers filling portions of it in order to get their cattle across for grazing.
Participant list
  • Mr. Ulaganathan, DFO - Hosur Forest Division
  • Mr.Anand, ACF - Hosur Forest Division
  • Staff of Hosur Forest Division
  • KANS
    • Prem Kumar Aparanji
    • Rahul
    • Soundaryavalli Madhugiri
    • Brijesh
    • Tarsh Williams
    • Jyotsna
    • Sabari Giri
    • Akshay Devendra
    • Abhinandan Murthy
    • Kiran Nagendra
    • Ram
    • Rochelle
    • Girish
    • Manjunath
    • Sanjeev Kumar SR
    • Prasanna Vynatheya
    • George Tom
    • Jobin
    • Suresh
Misc Notes:
  • Food arrangement was exceptionally good, thanks to the TN Forest Dept.
  • No mosquitoes in the forest IB.
  • Slightly cloudy neither too warm nor cool.
  • Evening at the forest IB was very pleasant with each sharing their wilderness experiences.
DFO Mr. Ulaganathan with the aid of videos explained to the group the problems associated with Elephants straying into human habitations. He also mentioned that there is a large herd of elephants that have gone across from Melagiri crossing NH7 and are holed up in Andhra, and that he would need our help to drive them back to Melagiri. It seems the elephants need to be driven across 50 kms of agricultural land and human habitation and that it would be a tricky affair. Leaving the elephants there would mean death to them ultimately due to food shortage and inbreeding.

Please see the photos here: picasaweb.com/ka.naturesociety/EPTAnalysisJune2014

Prasanna Vynatheya

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Illegal Checkdams in Bettamugilalam

To,                                                                                                                                                          Date: 25/05/2014
Thiru. Lakshmi Narayan, IFS
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden,
Tamil Nadu Forest Department,
Chennai  - 600 015

Copy to:
  • District Forest Officer, Hosur Forest Division
  • District Collector, Krishnagiri
  • Sub-Collector, Hosur
  • Range Forest Officer, Denkanikottai Range, Hosur Forest Division
Sub: Illegal Checkdams affecting Cauvery North Wildlife Sanctuary
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) is a wildlife NGO registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975. We have been actively working with the Hosur Forest Division for the last 6 years on various issues pertaining to wildlife conservation and related matters.
During our visit in April 2014 to a region called Bettamugilalam, located near Denkanikottai, Krishnagiri District, we noticed that in almost all the farm plots, the farmers had dug bore wells and were drawing water using diesel motor pumps.  Upon enquiring, the farmers said that they have been doing this for the past 3-4 years.
The impact is that the streams that flow through the villages are going dry[1].
So, in order to improve the water table, they have created several checkdams along the stream by placing sacks of sand [2] and boulders[3].
We would like to bring to your notice the threat from such activities:
1.       Bettamugilalam is located in the Cauvery North Wildlife Sanctuary. It is surrounded by the Reserve Forests of Aiyur, Sameri, Marandahalli, Toluvabetta and Galligattam. The streams that originate in these forests flow from one to the other through these villages [4]and eventually flow into the Panchapalli reservoir. The Checkdams are in violation of Section 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 which states that:
“No person shall destroy, exploit or remove any wild life including forest produce from a sanctuary or destroy or damage or divert the habitat of any wild animal by any act whatsoever or divert, stop or enhance the flow of water into or outside the sanctuary, [5] except under and in accordance with a permit granted by the Chief Wild Life Warden, and no such permit shall be granted unless the State Government being satisfied in consultation with the Board that such removal of wild life from the sanctuary or the change in the flow of water into or outside the sanctuary is necessary for the improvement and better management of wild life therein, authorises the issue of such permit”
2.       With streams in the forests going dry, Elephants have been occassionally visiting the villages in search of water. If these streams are not restored to their natural state, then, in the coming days there could be an increase in the human-elephant conflict in this region.
Therefore, in the interest of both the people and forests, we request you to take appropriate steps to restore the natural flow of the water systems and maintain the hydrological balance of this fragile region by closing and preventing these illegal Checkdams.


Laxmeesha Acharya

Kenneth Anderson Nature Society

1. Bore-well next to a stream that has gone dry
2. Checkdams made using sacks of sand

3. Checkdams made using boulders

4. Map showing the streams (in blue) flowing through Bettamugilalam

5. Blocking of stream from flowing into the forest

Petition to recover encroached land along Cauvery

To,                                                                                                                                                          Date: 04/03/2014
Thiru. T.P. Rajesh, IAS
District Collector

Thiru Ulaganathan, IFS
Conservator of Forests
Dharmapuri circle

Thiru Praveen P Nair, IAS

Kenneth Anderson Nature Society (KANS) is a wildlife NGO registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975. We have been actively working with the Hosur Forest Division (Hosur FD) for the last 5 ½  years on various issues pertaining to wildlife conservation and related matters.
One such issue has been a religious congregation of thousands of people at a place called Dabguli, which is located on the banks of the Cauvery river in Urigam range. We had initially noticed a large amount of waste at this place during a bio-diversity survey that KANS was carrying out in the Hosur FD in 2009-10. We met the organisers, who had been holding this festival from around 2007-08. In 2011, we convinced them to shift from using silver-lined plates to eco-friendly leaf plates. In 2012, with active assistance from the Hosur FD and Police, we began frisking the visitors for liquor and plastic.
This year the festival was held on February 1st and 2nd and the Hosur FD mobilised a large contingent of Foresters, Guards and Watchers, drawn from Denkanikottai, Anchetty and Urigam ranges, to manage the crowd. KANS would like to thank Mr. Ulaganathan (DFO, Hosur FD and CF,Dharmapuri) for taking up this initiative and for personally monitoring this activity the entire day.  
KANS would like to draw your attention to some concerns pertaining to this festival.
Majority of the visitors have utter disregard for forests and for the jurisdiction of the forest department.
  • Around 230 vehicles (auto-rickshaws, cars,tempos, tractors, buses etc.) were counted at the Manjukondapalli check-post on the first day. An equal, if not more, number of two-wheelers also passed through the check-post. The vehicle density increased from evening onwards till mid-night. This is despite the Forest Department banning entry into the forests after 6.30 pm
  • From previous  years, we have noticed that nearly 4-5 tractor loads of wood is collected from the forests for cooking, without permission from the Forest Department. Also, such uncontrolled removal of wood defeats the intention of activities carried out by the Forest Department such as creation of fodder plots, afforestation etc.
  • No permission has been taken from the Forest Department for conducting the festival at this scale, which is conducted not just within the temple premises, but spills onto a much larger area.
  • The temple itself has grown and additional permanent and semi-permanent structures have been built in encroached government land. The organisers have plans to re-build the temple in a grander scale.
  • The forest road leading from Belpatti village to Dabaguli APC has regularly been levelled to ease the vehicle movement, not just during this festival, but throughout the year. There is an increase in crowd visiting Dabguli ever since restrictions have been imposed in Mutatti in Karnataka due to it being included in Cauvery WLS. This was claimed by one of the organisers, who said that he was happy that more people are visiting Dabguli.
JCBs are used for levelling the road, without Forest Department permission.
  • The waste generated during the festival are collected and burnt in large pits dug in the river bank. The remaining waste (paper, plastic, glass etc.) and the remains of the burnt/partly-burnt waste gradually finds its way into the river. Since there are no sanitation facilities within the temple premises, the visitors (thousands of them) relieve themselves in the river and in the forest. These pollute the air, soil and water and thereby severly effecting the river ecology. Also, this is same polluted water that is drawn downstream for the Hogenekal drinking water project.
  • Even on days other than the festival, the temple is open and music is played by the family living at the temple, thereby permanently driving away wildlife from this part of the Reserve Forest (RF).
This part of the forest is very important because,
  • The entire stretch of 40kms of the Cauvery river in the Hosur Forest Division is inviolate, except for Dabguli.
  • The areas between Uganiyam and Dabguli are prime-habitat for the Grizzled Giant Squirrel.
  • HFD has dug EPTs all along the northern boundary with the intention of diverting the movement of elephants towards Cauvery. So, it is vital that the forests around Cauvery are left undisturbed, else there will be cases of Human-elephant conflict coming from these areas also in the future.
  • Increasing numbers of Tigers are being sighted in the Cauvery WLS in Karnataka in the ranges exactly opposite to Dabguli. So, there is a very high possibility of Tigers moving into Melagiris in the coming years.
With so much at stake, we cannot allow Dabguli to turn into a popular, dirty, noisy pilgrimage center.
The Kestur RF notification (Fort ST. George Gazette No 137, dated:09.03.1887) gives Right of way to a width not exceeding six yards in width and is allowed only for men, cattle and pack animals over the path from Kestur to Dabbaguli. Hence vehicle entry can be banned or restricted.
The Bilikal RF notification (Fort ST. George Gazette No 341, dated:23.05.1887) specifies an area of 100 yards by 5 yards for the temple. Therefore, the remaining structures can be easily demolished by the Forest Department. There is a Supreme Court ruling (SLP No. 8519/2006) which does not permit construction of religious structures in public places and has directed the District Collector to take action on unauthorized structures already in place. The RF notification also states that for organising the assembly of people at Dabguli, a notice ought to be given to the Forest Officer. Since no such notices are currently being given to the Forest Department, all the festivals happening at Dabguli can be termed  as illegal and hence banned.  
The Tamil Nadu Forest Act, 1882 and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 provide absolute protection to forested area from all factors causing degradation, depletion and destruction of wildlife and wildlife habitats. In the spirit of maintaining the law of the land, we request you to take appropriate and immediate steps to protect this region.    


Laxmeesha Acharya
Kenneth Anderson Nature Society

Copy to:
Range Forest Officer, Urigam Range, Hosur Forest Division