Religious Festivals Inside Protected Areas

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CI recently received this very pertinent question (in our ‘Ask CI’ section) from Suraj Kumaar of Coimbatore: “I would like to know what kind of rights for worship are provided to tribals and forest dwellers (villagers) inside PAs? We have been recording the temple festivals inside Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary over the last two years and the situation is one of absolute mayhem. Between 70,000 to 1,50,000 visitors, over 700 buses, trucks visit two temples deep inside the sanctuary. One temple, Read More

Palm Civet Roadkill, Bhimashankar, Maharashtra

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This haunting image of a dead Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) was taken on the main road to Bhimashankar temple. We sighted this otherwise nocturnal creature first thing in the morning in this sad state, likely killed by a speeding vehicle at night. Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirling shrine (a major site of worship for Lord Shiva; one of 12 in the country) located in the Sahyadri hills near Pune, in Maharashtra.

Also a wildlife sanctuary, Bhimashankar gets very crowded seasonally … Read More

Blackbuck in Captivity, Karnataka

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Although the species is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, this male Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is illegally held in captivity at a religious place (Devargudda) near Ranebennur. It was captured in the nearby fields when it was young and is now an adult buck. Sadly, this sprinter is kept chained the entire day from dawn to dusk. Since Ranebennur blackbuck sanctuary is close, there are frequent sightings of blackbuck in the fields. But holding them captive is an offence … Read More

Q: I would like to know what kind of rights for worship are provided to tribals and forest dwellers (villagers) inside PAs? We have been recording the temple festivals inside Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary over the last two years and the situation is one of absolute mayhem. Between 70,000 to 1,50,000 visitors, over 700 buses, trucks visit two temples deep inside the sanctuary. One temple, Karuvannarayar, is 18 kms from the Forest Checkpost and the Masi Temple is close to 45 kms deep inside the Moyar valley. Liquor flows freely, animal sacrifice is rampant, plastics, tree felling, open air cooking in dry scrubland is causing enormous stress. The land otherwise is a haven for wildlife with the highest density of tigers reported here. The Forest Department is a mute spectator. Kindly advice.

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We requested Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee of Wildlife First, to field this question. Since many PAs are plagued by similar problems, we think that his answer has wide relevance and so we decided to publish a detailed answer in our articles section.Read More