Ringora Wildlife Corridor

Introduction

India is a country which gathers one of the most high scale biodiversities in the world. It shelters more than 40 000 flora species and 75 000 fauna species. However we are facing a worrying loss of that richness, species are vanishing really fast and that is due to human activities. The overexploitation of the environment and habitat fragmentation, leads to ecosystem degradation. Despite a national will for nature and wildlife conservation, there is a progressive decline of some animal populations. For example, nowadays 27 Indian mammal  species are classified as endangered species on the red list of IUNC (International Union for Nature Conservation). Within them we can find the Bengal Tiger, the national Indian emblem, which is in decline because of the moving back of it territories and the increasing of poaching. Some reserves and protected sites permit the holding of the local flora and fauna protection. However the actions must also focus on awareness on the local people, the protection and restoration of the most endangered areas, as much as possible. It is also very important to ensure the connectivity between these different areas: the biological and ecological corridors, that permits the fauna moves between two habitats. They are particularly important as the habitats are already fragmented.

In that aim, my study is about ecological corridors that make the link between a protected site, which is the Corbett Tiger Reserve, and the Forest Division Of Ramnagar, a place where humans live. The aim is to analyse the issues in the area, its uses by the local people and to identify obstacles that can make movement through the corridor difficult or unlikely. At the end I will propose some solutions and action that can be done to conserve this link and ease the fauna movement.

I.General presentation

I.1. Uttarakhand, a place below Himalaya

1.1.1. Geography

India is 3,287,263 km² wide and is indeed considered as a sub-continent. Its population is around 1,156,897,766 inhabitant (2009). This report was conducted next to Ringora village, which is adjacent to the Corbett Tiger Reserve, Kumaon Region, Nainital district. The closest city is Ramnagar, which is about 6 km away.

Uttaranchal has become the 27th state of Indian Union on the 9th of November 2000. It took the name of Uttarakhand in August 2006. This name comes from a Sanskrit expression which means “Land of the North”. It is surrounded by Tibet in the North-East, Nepal in the South-East and the Indian states Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The capital city is Dehradun.

Uttarakhand State is famous for its beautiful landscapes and its north part is covered by the Himalayan mountains and their glaciers. The southern lands are mostly covered by forest.

1.1.2. Economy

Uttarakhand state is rich in minerals such as dolomite, magnetite, graphite.  Many industries are based on these resources. However, tourism is an increasing part of the local economy thanks notably to Corbett National Park. Tourists from all over the world come here to see tigers. The hotel resorts are welcoming them, and the many jobs as guides create important opportunities for development. However, still 90% of the local people live and depends on agriculture.

1.1.3. Climate

Because of the geographical size of Uttarakhand, the climate conditions are not the same in the north as in the south of the region. The temperature ranges between 8°C and 35°C as an average. The climate is globally warm. There are officially four seasons in India : Winter, Pre-monsoon, Monsoon and Post-Monsoon.

ü   Winter

From January to March. These are the coldest months with an average temperature of 10 to 15°C. This average is increasing the more you go in the south, to the equator.

ü   Summer  or drought season

This season is the shorter of the cycle. It starts by a progressive warming up from March till Mid-April. Then the temperatures can reach 40°C in Uttarakhand. The weather is then dry and dusty. It ends at the end of May.

ü   Monsoon

The monsoon or the rain season comes from an Arabic word Mausin (= season). This is a typical season in the South-East of Asia and India. It can be described as occurring when the wet air flow arrives, leading to abundant rains. Monsoon usually ends in September and covers 90% of the annual rainwater amount of the year. The average rainfall is up to 1223mm. This season has an important impact on the flora and the fauna. This year there was no true monsoon, leading to an increase in the use of the corridors to gain access to water for drinking.

I.2. Corbett Tiger Reserve

The Corbett Tiger Reserve is composed of Corbett National Park, Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and some Reserve Forests, which constitute the buffer areas.

During the 19th Century, deforestation for wood industry and agriculture caused widespread damage to Uttarakhand. Some protections measures needed to be taken. At the beginning of the 20th century, some had the idea of fauna sanctuaries.

In 1936, the first national park was created and first named Hailey National Park. Its name changed in Ramganga National Park in 1954 and finally Corbett National Park in 1956. Jim Corbett was a naturalist, hunter, writer and photographer who contributed a lot to the conservation of the area. The Corbett National Park was the first reserve to start participating in Project Tiger.

The conservation area is 520 km² wide. We can also add the buffer area which is 797km² wide and includes the Forest Division of Kalagarh (301.18km²), the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (96.7km²) and the Forest Division of Ramnagar (89km²). The administrative control of the whole area is managed by the Reserve headmaster.

The Ramganga River flows through the reserve and ends in a artificial lake which has covers 10% of the reserve. The dam was built in 1970.

In the reserve we can find 50 species of mammals, more than 585 species of birds, and 25 species of reptiles. However the park is famous for its tigers, leopards and elephants.

In terms of management the reserve is divided into two parts. One part is open to the public, closing only during the monsoon season. The tourists are required to obtain a permit to enter the park, and need to be accompanied by a guide while they are inside the park. The other part of the reserve is forbidden to any tourists or villagers. Only the forests guards are allowed to keep an eye on the site. They apply the technique of non-managing, without any human intervention.

1.2. The ecological corridor of the Kosi river

An ecological corridor is a space which permits the species dispersion between one place to another. This is not only a meaning of genetic dispersion (as it is for biological corridors).

By linking these areas, it contributes to create an ecological network. This network contains three elements: Nodal areas (that offer enough environmental and species spaces, quantitatively and quality speaking), one or several corridors (that ensure the link between these nodal areas) and “buffer areas” (that is protecting these two areas from external influences).

In this study the nodal areas correspond to Corbett Tiger Reserve and Ramnagar Forest Division, more precisely the areas next to the Kosi River, a corridor making the link between these two areas. We can associate the buffer areas to rarely used areas by the fauna.

The ecological corridor is just into the buffer area of the Tiger Reserve. We observed the flux of animals crossing to go from the reserve to the Ramnagar Forest division. The fauna is using this connectivity to access the Kosi River, notably during the drought summer, making it important to conserve such a corridor. Despite of all the human buildings and resorts there are four areas which are available for the fauna to cross: 5km between Mohan and Kumaria, 1.5km between Dhangari gate and Sunder Khal, 100m between two blocks in Sunder Khal and 6km between Infinity Resort Hostel and Bijrani (the subject area for this report). We know that tigers use these areas quite often, so it is interesting to study their movement as the tiger can be considered as an “Umbrella” species. An Umbrella species contributes to protect the other species which share the same area.

ü   Corridor and villages

The main problem is the expansion of villages and the pressure that comes from wood collection by the villagers. This is an obstacle for any fauna movement. For example, after 1974, the Sunder Khal village has expanded and has destroyed the Teak plantations, which was owned by the Forest Department 3 years ago. The Forest department has complained to the Court of India. It has involved 269 families and resulted the expulsion of 172 of them. They have refused to go away. According to several surveys, 300 families and 5000 people live there. There were about 100 houses and 200 temporary ones. The expansion of Sunder Khal is the main problem because it is threatening the corridor access. And people also depend on the forest for fodder and wood collection. The dependency keeps increasing in parallel with population growth. The village is 3.5km long, and these 3.5km are an obstacle for the animals which need to get some water in the Kosi river.  There is also an increasing number of conflicts between tigers and humans. More and more people are attacked by tigers. Sunder Khal could be move out in the Forest area of Gabua (13km²), between Ramnagar and Kaladhungi, in the Forest Division of West Terai.

The village’s growth and impacts on forests are well inspected, as for example the connectivity between Infinity Resort and Bijrani.

During my internship, I have studied the corridor between Infinity resort and Bijrani (just at the entrance of Ramnagar).

I.3. Actors of conservation

1.2.1. Society of Mahseer conservancy

Society of Mahseer conservancy is a non-governmental organization for the conservation and the protection of wildlife and local communities in India. The association was created in 2004 by passionate naturalists who have identified a need of conservation and protection of the Ramganga river and the fish called Mahseer. This fish was overfished in the reserve by local people.

By creating communities of ecodevelopments in the Corbett Tiger Reserve Forest Department and a formation for local fishers along the whole river, a partnership was created. This partnership is fighting against the persisting environmental degradation and its destructive fishing methods which were increasing in these areas.

The association works in the areas surrounding the national park. Its points are sociological and ecological and its aim is to link protection and local community development, in the buffer area of the protected site of the Tiger Reserve. It is also doing some awareness campaigns in the villages as in schools or villages.  It is also works in partnership with the Forest Department, the Eco-lodges which promotes eco-tourism and with several national-international organizations.

To raise the needed funds, the association is using funds that come from several partnerships involving hotels (such as Tiger Camp), the tourism activity in the park but also with NGOs subsidies and private supporters.

Society of Mahseer conservancy has built a eco-tourism resort called “Vanghat” to make the people aware of the vanishing of the Mahseer. There is also a deforestation survey in the buffer area of the reserve, and a vulture campaign.

1.2.2. The Corbett Foundation

The Corbett Foundation is a public association which was created in 1994 by Dilip D Khatau, Chairman  and is also in partnership with some hotels. This association is subsidized by NGOs and private funds.

The association activities “are in the aim of wildlife and nature conservation, and that humans and nature should live together in harmony”. Their purposes are to reduce human/animal conflicts in the buffer area of Corbett Tiger Reserve. So this association is working in the studied area.

As with the Society of Mahseer Conservancy, Corbett Foundation has a sociological and ecological outlook and wish to ally biodiversity and its protection, with the development of local population.

1.2.3. Forest Department of Uttarakhand

The Forest Department’s duty is forest management and forest biodiversity in Uttarakhand. This is the oldest Forest Department of all India and has a rich history over 150 years. Thanks to this accumulated experience in the forest management field, the Forest Department is quite useful for knowledge in the local climate, the local geography and variety of wildlife species. The region is divided into several divisions, which are managed by forest guard teams. In the studied area, it is the Ramnagar Forest Division who is in charge.

Their aim is to protect biodiversity, create awareness in the people and conserve the areas where people live in.

1.2.4. Villagers

No village is located inside the reserve. There are now 92 villages in the buffer area of the park. The average population is 65,982 inhabitants. Inside the studied area, there are three villages : Amdanda, Tedha and Ringora. Ringora is the most relevant village because it is implanted in the very middle of the area. Villagers are exploiting the natural resources of that area, collecting wood and fodder for the cattle. These behaviors lead to an important pressure on the environment and also a progressive deforestation. Consequently the amount of resources is decreasing little by little, the habitats of animals are also fragmenting, reducing. The people go deeper and deeper into the forest, and the human-animal conflict is increasing.  Since 2008 there were several tiger attacks in the buffer area, some of them were deadly. These attacks are becoming more often, in February 2010 a lady was attacked near Sunder Khal village, in the studied area.

Thanks to the park reputation and to the tiger, the park is attracting more and more tourists. This leads to an important economic development. Villagers have followed formations and have become guides, souvenir shop and hotel resorts have been built, many jobs have been created. Villagers are deeply linked and dependant to this area, and lived on these resources and tourism.

To conclude we can say that in this area the main dynamic is ecology, in favor of biodiversity protection. There is also a economic dimension that is linked to the tourism flux of the Corbett Tiger Park, the development of local communities and teak plantations have been possible thanks to that.

1.3. Link between the actors

There are no conflicts between actors. They are all deeply linked to the surroundings, economically and ecologically speaking. They all also depend on these resources.

1.4. Aims of the corridor study

To be as efficient as possible, ecological corridors have to have no obstacles and must contain, at least in some parts, habitats areas, shelter areas, and adapted feeding areas (these areas have to be large enough and contain a good quality of food). These areas allow animals to live and stay in the area on a short or long term basis, depending on the needs of each species. We already know that this corridor is frequently used by the local fauna, it indeed shows that it is an important point to consider. To show the issues of this connectivity, I have carried out a diagnostic study of the corridor, how it works and how often it is used. The main aim are shown below :

How and why is it important to preserve and put in order the corridor which link Corbett Tiger Reserve to Ramnagar Forest Division?

The objectives are described below:

-          Find the frequentation of the areas by the local fauna and all the corridors of the studied area, define those which are more favorable  for the fauna ;

-          Identify the obstacles which block fauna movement.

-          Get to know the precise movements of the “umbrella species” : the tiger

-          Find solutions to conserve the connectivity in order to protect the local fauna and ease its movement between the two areas.

-          Conceal human activities with fauna conservation

II. A rich Corridor

II.1. Ringora Corridor’s cartography

At the very beginning of my internship, there was no precise map of the area. I have decided first to make one which includes all the areas of this corridor. My aim was to work on a actual and valuable map, to get to know the diversity of the area, to link all types of habitats with the distribution and use of the area by the local fauna. During the study, I have used Google Earth, since all the most recent maps dated from 1960, and I was unlikely to do actual work on it. The satellites photographs were taken in 2003 and seem to be very close what the area is now. So I have studied the local flora, which was to distinguish all different areas of the corridor. Then in each of these defined areas, I made habitats surveys to show the abundance and distribution of the flora.

1.1) Cartography protocol

Each morning at 6 o’clock, I would cross the corridor to do 2 hours of study.

To do that, I walked along the NH121 road from Ringora. From the road, it was easy to distinguish the several types of environment. Therefore I have designed the map in a way that it shows each change of environment.  I noted the changes and went into define its borders and also localize them on the map. I also noted all fauna tracks.  I was walking perpendicularly to the NH121, noting each habitat change and particularities of the surroundings. First, I studied the north part of the corridor which is from Ringora to Dhikuli and then from Ringora to Ramnagar. Thanks to a GPS I have localized and registered all different important points. In the office I entered all these localized points on Google Earth and create a whole new map.

I used paper, a GPS and a camera.

At the beginning of the study, I was all the time accompanied with a forest guide who helped me to identify the species and get to know the vegetation, habitats and their specialties.

2.2) Results of the study

The corridor is quite heterogeneous. There are many different vegetal structures, depending on the altitude and the types of wild communities. The soil and watershed conditions are shaping the environment and the distribution of habitats. We must also consider human activity as a factor of shaping. This study has revealed 5 types of vegetation:

-          Sal tree forests

-          Mixed forests

-          Alluvial forest

-          Bushy areas

-          Teak plantations

Thanks to the data which was collected on the field and the forest guide’s help I was able to know each characteristic of these areas. I have summarized the data (Appendix I-II-III : a rich corridor).

ü   Sal tree Forest

The Sal tree forests (Shorea robusta) represent the northern border of dipterocarpic forests. Sal is the main species of these forests (50% of the surface). The Sal trees can be 45m high, but generally they are between 25 and 40m high. They are considered to be the main ecotype here. However the Sal tree has got a slow growth, and the forest division is working to protect the Sal trees which are still growing and dig pits to prevent people from collecting these trees. Sal trees are very fire resistant and very well adapted to the several local soil types of the corridor and weather conditions. Sal tree is also the main tree species of the Corbett Tiger Reserve. Other tree species which are associated with the Sal are Terminalia alata and Syzyguin cumini(Jamun) and Anogeissus latifolia (Bakli). This type of forest is about 15,368 m². It is also an adapted forest for tigers because it offers many places to shelter in the dense flora. This type of forest is only inside the very Tiger Reserve, and its entrance is forbidden to people. There is indeed no human activity instead of illegal collecting activities. So Sal forest are quite free of any human activity and that is why there is a incredible biodiversity. These forests are also not adapted to human activities.

ü   Mixed Forest

This type of forest is in the Forest Division of Ramnagar and cover about 4923m². We find that type of forest around the Ringora village (in the south) and along the road in the north. They are surrounded by bushy areas in the north and by Teak plantation in the south. We can suppose that part of the mixed forests has been turn into Teak plantation.

In this type of forest, we find many Sal trees in association with species like Terminalia alata, Syzyguin cumini (Jamun), Anogeissus latifolia (Bakli), Mallotus phillipinensis (Rohini) and Haldina cordifolia (Haldu) and also Curry trees in the lower levels.  This forest presents wet types of vegetation but also dry types and very open types. Along the road, the forest is wet. Next to the cliff, the forest is quite dry and open because of its low density. The sun is warming faster the soil and the humidity is less maintained. Mixed forest is 2103m² along the cliff.  There is very abundant fauna and small flora in this type of forest. This is the favorite type of forest of tiger, leopards, mammals and elephants. This forest offers many shelter places for animals and also a important resource of food.

ü   Riparian vegetation along Kosi River

This vegetation is characterized by species which are adapted to important water variation during the year. This vegetation is along the left side of the river. Moreover, in some small areas where alluvial species have appeared, there is also some mixed forest. The main formation is Khairo-sisso. The Dalbergia sisso is a big thin tree which can be 25m high and 2-3m of diameter. It is the most cultivated tree in India after the Teak. The Acacia catechu (Khair) is quite tolerant with the type of soil, but its favorite one is a sandy soil with small rocks. It can be 10m high and 30-40m of diameter, and its shape is very heterogeneous. This area is vital for the animals during period of drought, it brings some coolness and is next to the water. That’s why many species come there to drink.

ü   Teak Plantation

We can find Teak plantation in the Forest Division of Ramnagar, its surface is 10397m².  It is often implanted in or on mixed forests. It is grown to produce building wood and permits  India to sell a great amount of wood, providing economic benefits to the country. Inside the corridor, the Teak plantation’s purpose is to make household furniture and exportation. The Forest Department is in charge of the plantation and only intervene for harvesting. Here the plantation is 38 years old, which is almost time of harvesting (40 years). These plantations are very open areas and are not good for most animal species due to the monoculture and bare soils. There are however some herds of Cheetal.

ü   Bushy areas

We find this type of vegetation on the right riverside of the Kosi and along the Nullah (stream which are created during monsoon). The soil is very sandy with many rocks brought by water flows of the Nullah. There are no tree, only bushes, especially the invasive plant Lantana camara and Parthenium hysterophorus, Zysyphus jujube (Bear) and the Banaad.  These bushy areas are sometimes crossed by animals and sometimes also used as shelter areas, but this is quite rare because of the allergic proprieties of the Parthenium. This area is 2700m². The roots of these bushes are small and the bushes can be destroyed during monsoon or with the Nullah. We can say that these bushes are pioneer species, because they colonize first the area, they also very tolerant with all types of soil and weather conditions.

We also encounter a long stripe of Lantana of 623m². It has probably colonized this area during the planting of the Peak plantation.

We can conclude that the corridor has many different and diversified areas, shaped or not by humans. The Corbett Tiger Reserve is mainly constituted with natural forests, free of any human activities and the Forest Division of Ramnagar is constituted with monocultural plantation of Teak.

1) Vegetal species inventory

Thanks to the previous study, I got to know the studied zone better, and to know that the vegetation in the defined areas is homogenous. That is, why with Sumantha Ghosh, we decided to start an inventory on every species in each area.  One inventory would not be enough to be precise on the vegetation, we needed more sample to have more precise knowledge on the type of Vegetation. But the time given was too short for such a deep work.

2.1) Inventory protocol

I needed to do 6 inventories, all in one week, one per day in the morning at 6 o’clock. We chose the study points prior to carrying out the inventories. Every morning I went to the defined points using the GPS, and accompanied with a forest guide and Sumantha to recognize some plants.

Important Note: As it is difficult to recognize Gramineas in India, I did the study with a local method, which consists in calculating the degree of soil coverage without creeping species.

I was also not able to go inside the Tiger Reserve as we need a special license to go in. I have used the same protocol as Indian naturalists and associations.

The method consisted of doing a circle of 10m around a selected point. Within that circle, you have to do an inventory of every species of trees and note how much trees of each species there are. As the studied surface is quite small it is an easy exercise. Then you reduce the circle to 5m and do the same method as previously for the bushes. It can happen that in some case it is almost unlikely to count all the bushes, so we would do a percentage of coverage. Then you reduce again the circle to 1m. Within that circle you have to count all the creeping species, the Gramineas, the high Gramineas and the percentage of bare soil. On each studied site I noted a description of the localization parameters (Appendix IV).

2.2) Results

This study gives a good overview of what species we can find in each area. However all the species encountered during this study were fitting with the global vegetal formations I described previously. There are 28 species: Two invasive plants : Lantana camara and Parthenium hysterophorus, six local and known species (and one used as a specific monoculture), the Tectona grandis and 9 unknown species. Obviously we have not counted the weeds and Gramineas.

This study does not give exhaustive results because we would need more time for the study, more areas and more sites to do the inventory. All the sites were chosen in the Forest Division of Ramnagar. The human activity here is shaping the landscapes and the collection of natural resources. The vegetal formations have changed, and perhaps that is why the biodiversity is less because of human activities. The two invasive plants and the monoculture have replaced the original mixed forests. Within the Corbett Tiger Reserve, into the national Park, there are 110 species of trees and 488 species of plants! Remember that the reserve is not allowing people to go into and the main forests are Sal forests and mixed forests. This difference is very important (Cf. appendix V)

ü   Site n°1 : The opened, mixed forest

This is the most open site; it is found only on the cliff. I found 3 species of the mixed forests such as the Sal tree, the Rohini and the Tendu (beneath 5 tree species in total). Then the average of vegetal coverage is more open than the mixed forest and therefore permits the light to warm the soil and make Gramineas grow. Gramineas covere 70% of the soil.

ü   Site n°2 :  Mixed Forest

These results are not satisfying because the random chosen site was too close the Teak plantations. It was nearly at the beginning of the ecotone. Teaks have been counted there when it is not an original tree of the region. The most common species of tree on this site is Rohini (Mallotus phillipinensis) and the Taldou, which are original trees of the region. 5 species of tree are on this site. There is not much vegetation here (bare soil is 95%), there is actually not much light that is coming through the trees. At the bush strata, we have 7 species (which two are little trees). This study give not much exhaustive results because we would need more ample to study, more areas and sites in that kind of area to do that inventory.

ü   Site n°3 : Bushy area

There is no tree here and the light is able to go through and reach the soil. The soil is clay loam and the bushes are dense. There are also spiny species as “bear” and Lantana. This site was studied after an heavy rain of monsoon, so the soil was covered by some little Gramineas (as vetch) on 60% of the surface. There are also many high Gramineas. This study give an exhaustive result of the flora of the area, because it seems the same vegetation around.

ü   Site n°4: Plantation of Tectona grandis

Within this site there is monoculture, which contains one and only tree species. These trees are planted in line, all of them are the same age (about 38-40 years old).  The tree are spaced by 6m. The sol is bare at 90%. On this site we have some Cheetal footprints and also Sāmbhar footprints. This study give an exhaustive result of the flora of the area, because it seems the same vegetation around.

ü   Site n°5 : the Ripisylve, left riverside of Kosi

Within this site we can observe an association called “Khair-Sissoo”. This is an association of two species as the Acacia catechu and the Dalbergia sissoo, which are two species of alluvial forests. They can resist to an important variation of watershed and have deep roots, which allow them to be stable during monsoon accident as a river in spate. We can also find some “Jamun tree” and some “sage” trees.

To conclude this study, the corridor shows many different areas, and some where human activities have shaped and modified areas. Now we can know which areas are more favorable areas for the fauna. The mixed forests and the Sal Forests turn out to be an hangout for many species (tiger, mammals, primates… There they can find food and shelter.  However this fauna needs a water point notably during the drought period; that is why also the ripisylve of Kosi is very appreciated. They manage to access to water and to find some coolness. Predatory particularly like this area, the prey are indeed often using these corridors all day long. The bushes areas can also constitute shelters and also food spot (bays) or hiding places for preys. To finish the plantations are not favorable for the fauna, except for the Cheetal herds. The high visibility of the bare soils is probably the reason why the animals stay just a short time in.

Tiger (sara)

III.4 Protocol of the study

For this study, I have chosen to use the method of footprints recognition for two reasons. The first one is because I can use this easily thanks to the skills of the forest guides. The second one is because the studied area is very small and that is easing the scouting and therefore a better and more precise estimation.

The cartography of the area has permitted me to get to know better the surroundings and the possible tracks used by the tiger. These animals prefers to use the track roads instead of going through dense bushes (notably Lantana bushes). They also use bushes to hide, eat its preys and rest.

My protocol was to criss-cross every morning, the corridor from 6:30. I was looking for footprints or clues on each close-side of the track. The best time to scout is in the morning, because all animals crosses these areas mostly in the night and the early morning; the weather is too hot afterwards. Moreover we have to see the tracks before the cattle and the wood collector come and erase the footprints. My starting point was the Ringora Village and then I was heading to the north to Dhikuli (circuit number 1).  I chose as a directional axis the national highway which is perpendicular to all the tracks in the forest. Knowing that the main road is an obligatory way for animals because they have to cross it to join the Kosi river to drink. Then I was criss-crossing the south part of the corridor to check eventual footprints or/and check eventual clues of tiger passage. Then I was heading to Ramnagar, keeping the same directional axis (circuit number 2). The circuit was 7.74km length (circuit 1: 4.61km and circuit 2: 3.13km)

I was also noting all the footprints or clues of passages of others animals. I could also have had a clear overview of the use of the corridor. Thanks to that I can now link this study to the obstacles that prevent or disturb the animals moves.

The approximate time of a circuit is two hours, and I was all the time accompanied because in the morning it is dangerous to walk alone ( there are tigers, leopards and elephants). I have had also always a pail of plaster to model the footprints to compare them.

Within the Circuit 1 : Five tracks are likely to be used by the fauna, it includes one Nullah. These tracks are more used during the monsoon, they lead indeed directly to the river.

Within the Circuit 2 : Six tracks are studied.

Each clues (corpses, territorial marks, scratched tree) and footprints are noted on the reading sheet. Then a picture is taken so as the GPS coordinates of the point. For the direct observations as living animals, I try the best I can to take a picture of it. Back to the office, I was writing the coordinates on a map thanks to Google Earth. Then using the software Illustrator, I was drawing the outlines of the tiger footprints to ease the identification.

III.5) Footprints identification

ü   Dissociate male and female footprints

The male footprint is shaped as a square, its paw is more massive and its fingers bigger and shorter; The female footprint is more willowy, its finger are longer and finer. The female footprints are shaped as a triangle as a finger is more elongated than the others. It is more difficult to distinguish the sex of young tigers, the differences are indeed less obvious, but the principle remains the same. The individual footprint are unique for each tiger and presents individual characteristics. On the small studied area there would be on a few tigers so the identification would be easier.

Important note: As we have encountered several different substrates, It is difficult to evaluate the real size of the footprint, that is why the identification is based on the easiest particularities of these footprints (fine fingers, small palm…).

We can also encounter other footprints and clues of others animals presence which are using frequently the corridor. The clues can be dejections of mammals, spines of porcupines, skin of reptiles etc.

III.6 Result of the study

I have realized 25 scoutings.  At the end of that I can conclude that certain species have preferences concerning the used tracks. They don’t use the south part, the cliff bars the passage to animals which want to cross. I have bee focusing on the northern tracks and notably the Nullah, that I was criss-crossing every days. Some tracks help to go round the cliff and get access to the water areas. Thereby I was able to retrace the tiger use of the corridor and count their number.

ü  Numbers of Tigers  

To determine the number of tigers, I first determine the sex of the animal, then I compare it with the different footprint I have to find some similitude and individual characteristics for each footprint. Then I ask the forest guide, who is a skilled person in identification to confirm my identification.

At the end of my analysis  I have determined 4 tigers n this corridor :

-        A breeding male that is owning its territory

-        A adult female and his baby male. They have a overlapping territory on the male’s.

-        A wandering male. This tiger will probably not stay long in this area because it is occupied by the other breeding male and there is indeed a direct competition with the dominant. However it is possible that the young is tolerated by the male tiger because it is its progeny.

The two adults have a fixed presence in this area; Perhaps there would be an other female here because the abundance of prey is very important; it is also sufficient for more tigers. However in this area the growing problem is the development of villages and the increasing human pressure on the natural forest resources.  The surface of tigers territory is indeed decreasing and the human-animal conflicts are increasing.  Sadly, there are bloody consequences today, as this women who was killed by a leopard in February 2010 next to the corridor. As the Corbett Tiger Reserve permits to preserve a viable population of tiger, there are les place places and territory to allow settlement of young new tigers.

ü  Use of the corridor by the tigers

Step by step I have understood that tigers were using the corridor daily on defined  tracks at different moment of the day.

The female was using the corridor everyday. During the survey, it was accompanied twice with its cub. Early in the morning, at about 5 o’clock, the female was taking a very used track (by the inhabitants), then going along the electrical fences and cross the road at the Nullah, and then re-cross the road at the north of the village. Then it was going to the Kosi river to get access to the water and the coolness of the ripisylve. It was taking the same track in the evening. We can conclude that a important part of its territory is in the riverside ( abundance of prey, coolness, shelter, hidden places…) and also the alluvial area of the Kosi river in the Ramnagar Forest Division for the water.

The male tiger is also using a part of the corridor, some territorial marks and footprints has been spotted on the Nullah. I set the hypothesis that it stays during the day near the river, because I could observed some marks done during the daytime around the Nullah. There are also many footprints in this area.

The young male footprints which is wandering, was only found in the Tiger reserve very close to the village. It will stay in this territory just a while because it will be hunted by the itinerant adults and will go away to find its own territory.

ü  Frequentation of other species

Despite of the aim to only noting down tiger clues of presence, I have also noted down other species clues of presence. At each outings I could have observed Cheetal from very closed sight in the Teak plantations. Also some direct sight of crossing the road or footprints that determine that Cheetal often use the corridor. There are also the Sambhar (Cervus unicolour), the Cheetal (Axis axis) and the Muntjac (Muntkak muntiacus) which are ungulates. Some monkeys as the Langhos (Presbytis entellus) and the Macaque (Macaca mulatia) which live in the village sides; wild pigs, wild cats and some reptiles as the Monitor Lizard (Varanus bengalensis). These last species are often killed on the road.

Elephants are also often crossing the corridor in a defined point. To cross it they pass just behind the fences, along the villages, as the tigress. Several observations and listening has confirmed that they use this track during the night. The elephants have this particularity to always follow tracks of their ancestors.

We can conclude that this buffer area is permitting the connectivity with the Corbett Tiger and the Ramnagar Forest Division. The fauna is using daily this corridor to pass to a place to another, to access to water at the Kosi river that is the only water source in the drought season. I have determined thanks to this study the presence in this corridor of 4 tigers, including two of them that are always in this area.  Moreover a lot of other wild species this corridor. It is therefore important to find solutions that is good for the population and also for the wildlife.

However there are some obstacles which are strongly disturbing the optimal circulation of the fauna. With the expansion of the villages, the increasing mono-specific sylviculture; the are is step by step modified and make the fauna declined to other parts of the reserve. That is why for the next and third study, I will aim to determine the obstacles and their impact on the fauna. I will focusing on the road which is crossing the corridor. It is disturbing the moves and causes frequently accidents that are causing sometimes death to the animals.

III.Obstacles which are disturbing the fauna circulation

By using the corridor, the wild fauna encounters many obstacles which are natural or anthropoid; this study aim to know better these obstacles and then proposing some solutions to ease the fauna circulation.

III.1. Presentation of these obstacles.

During that study I have noted down every obstacles that are disturbing the circulation of the fauna in the corridor : seven obstacles have been reported.

1) The cliff, a natural obstacle

About 30m high, the cliff is covering the whole width of the corridor on the right-side of the Kosi River. This cliff is an obvious obstacle for the fauna. That is why the animals are using determined tracks and patches to contour the cliff: The main passage is divided into Ringora and the Nullah.

2) Ringora, a village

Ringora is a small village into the buffer area of Corbett Tiger Reserve and the Ramnagar Forest Division. It is composed of 24 houses and implanted in the middle of the corridor; the fauna has to contour it to reach the Kosi or the reserve. This village is not such an important obstacle because of its small surface and its proximity to the main road. It is protected by electrical fences to keep the dangerous animals at distance, notably the mammals and elephants that would come and eat the fields.  Frequently, the animals go along the fence by taking a track behind the village. Other animals are completely avoiding the village, scared by humans. However, the implantation of the village in this area can lead to human-animal conflicts as the inhabitants are going everyday into the forest to collect wood and fodder. They can there face animals that are living or just moving through this area. However no accident has happened in this village.

3) Invasive species as natural barriers

ü   Lantana camara

Lantana camara is a exotic plant which comes from north and central America. Its introduction in India was accidental. They are able to grow individually or in dense groves replacing local species. In the disturbed forests Lantana can become the main species. Its allopathic qualities can reduce the vigor of the plant around and reduce the yield of the field. In some sites, invasions are so spread, that it has completely stopped the tropical forest natural regeneration. Lantana is adapting very fast to different conditions, riversides, forest sides, road sides… Hopefully they are not able to colonized the dense forest but are easy colonizing areas that are degraded by humans activities. Moreover Lantana can constitute a good shelter for mosquitoes, which are spreading diseases. In the studied corridor, Lantana is a dense obstacle, a vegetal barrier,  impermeable to the fauna. Their circulation is indeed disturbed. The problem is that Lantana is growing at the road side, all along, and the fauna has to go through it.

Lantana camara is in the UICN list, of the 100 most invasive species in the world.

ü   Parthenium hysterophorus

Parthenium is an annual species, which is able to colonize very easily all areas. It is originally from South and Central America. Its introduction was accidental in India in 1956. Parthenium hysterophorus contains allergens fluids, that are contaminating the fauna and the humans by respiratory tracts and by ingestion. More than 1000 cases of “weed dermatisis” (an inflammation of the skin) and some are dead in India.

As the Lantana, it has a good capacity to adapt, and can be considered as a pioneer species. A Parthenium plant can produce each year 15 000 seeds. In the corridor it is growing in every area such as fields, bushy areas, riverside…  Fauna and humans are facing both this natural obstacle. It is frequently observed along the roadsides, associated with Lantana, where they can easily grow.

4) The road, an obligatory passage

The NH 121 national road, length 252 km, (starting from Kashipur to Bubakhal, Uttarakhand) is crossing the studied area directly, without any intersections. It is implanted into the very middle of the corridor and separate the western part of Corbett Tiger Reserve and the eastern part of the Ramnagar Forest Division. Its traffic is very dense and indeed disturbing for the fauna. The traffic is also fast and abundant. Moreover the traffic is very noisy thanks to the horns.

5) The fences

The fences in barbwires and electrical fences are very used in the corridor. The barbwires are the most important obstacle, they are set around the Teak plantations. The aim is to protect these forests which are not yet disturbed by human activities, and to prevent from lopping. The electrical fences are set around villages to protect its inhabitants and their fields.

Animals are facing these artificial barriers and have to contour them. Some of them are able to jump over them and the other just go along.

On this map, we can see that many fences are set in the Forest Division of Ramnagar, all along the studied area. Moreover many more fences are going to be built to protect the forest in this area.

6) The mining sites

Along the Kosi river, tractors are coming regularly to collect granules and sand on the riversides. They are also extracting these components to crush them afterwards. They are used as construction materials. These mining works take place early in the morning, at about 5 AM. It is exactly the time when the animals use this area to go drinking. There are also many animals that live in this area and which are disturb. The work is noisy and animals are also afraid of men. Moreover it destroys the area and cavities are created after the dredging.

7) The pits along the road

During this summer, pits have been dug along the NH 121 on the Tiger reserve side. These are 1m width pits and 3m long, spaced with 1m each. Their aim is to dissuade people of going into the reserve. These are frequently people who are illegally lopping the Sal trees to sell it in the black market. They are acting during mostly during the night. Sal wood is very expansive and asked. The pits aim is also to prevent people to go harvesting, wood collecting inside the reserve. Pits digging have been realized by the Forest Department of Uttarakhand.

Despite all these aspects, animals can be trapped into these pits and being disturbed by them. The little mammals and the reptiles can fall and never manage to escape. Notably turtles have been found into these pits. Other animals have to go along these pits or jump over them.

III.2. Traffic survey

1) Actual laws

There are already many laws to regulate traffic but they are rarely respected. For example, the speed limits which are indicated along the roads and nobody is taking account of them. There are only a few controls of speed, but nothing is done to apply these limits and driving style. Generally, the cars are limited to 80 km/h, before a dangerous bend to 40 km/h and in village to 25 km/h. But the vehicles like jeeps and truck are very often driving faster. There are some speed ramps at the entrance of villages to make the vehicles brake, but their efficiency is not that good.

Along the road, into the studied area, there are some awareness signs. These signs are set by Corbett Tiger forest guards and their aim is to make people aware that endangered animals are crossing the road. Drivers have to be careful and drive slowly to avoid accidents. Some other signs abet people to drive slower.

Despite all of that, traffic is till fast and many accidents are occurring.

2) Protocol of study

As the road is an obstacle for fauna circulation, I have studied the daily traffic on the NH 121. In that aim, I have met a professor of the Wildlife Institute, who have advised me to established a type-day of traffic. As the road is used as much as in every day.

As the road is crossing the studied area in its very middle, vehicles are passing obligatory on this road, as there is one and only road to Dhikuli or Ramnagar;

I have realized the study on the 17th of August 2009. I was at the roadside at Ringora till 5AM to 20PM. I could not study any longer because it was dangerous to stay because of wild animals crossing, especially tigers.

I have chosen to study the traffic which were heading in both directions : Dhikuli to Ramnagar and Ramnagar to Dhikuli ( to the north and to the south). I have read down all categories of vehicles which are mentioned below:

-        Motorbikes

-        Car (taxi like)

-        Jeeps

-        Bus

-        Rickshaws

-        Bicycles

-        tractors

-

III.3. Traffic survey results

The traffic is quite ceaseless, dense and fast. I have counted several peaks of traffic high density and some vehicles are much more numerous as  others. To Dhikuli (north) I have counted 666 vehicles, and to Ramnagar (south) 788 vehicles; for a total of 1454. This is very much for a road next to a protected area. We can take in account that the survey was done during monsoon and it was raining all day long. So the most used vehicles were cars (453). Normally there are much more motorbikes but due to the rain there were a few. Motorbike is indeed the most popular vehicle here. We can add a fifty more motorbikes during the time of wildlife moves (6-9 AM and 7-8 PM).

During summer 150 jeeps have to be added in the early traffic and late traffic. The Park is indeed open during this season. During monsoon, only 80 jeeps are allowed to go inside the reserve, it is very dangerous (river floods, falling trees…).

It must be highlighted that car, truck and jeeps are driving at 90-100km/h; the motorbike at 70km/h, because they have no helmets and often people behind. The speeds limits are not respected at all, the traffic is fast and dangerous.

The most important peak of the day is during the evening when people go back home at 7-8 PM. In the morning there is no such peak, the flow of vehicles stretches to the whole morning at least when the Park is open (15th of November to 15th of June). Between 5AM and 9AM the traffic is more oriented to the north and then the trend is reversing. It seems that many people live in Ramnagar and work outside. The peak to Ramnagar is at about 8PM. Moreover taxi, truck and buses are based in Ramnagar, it will explain the peak to Ramnagar before the night. All these public vehicles are stopping their duty after 8PM, so the traffic is decreasing. We can conclude that the most important risk of accident with great fauna can happen during the morning and to 7h-8h.

The problem is that the evening traffic is parallel to the evening circulation of animals, such as the tiger. It crosses the road to spend the night at Kosi. By the way, other animals such as monkeys and reptiles are crossing the road during the day and are victim of accidents.

III.4 Many accidents

An important number of animals are killed or badly hurt after collisions. Some are attracted by the roadside because of the presence of preys, such as monkey which are feeding on villages garbage. Reptiles are attracted by the warmth of the road. Some insects as Lepidoptera are using air routes which are warm above the road. It is possible to encounter some mammals, ungulates which are coming to feed on herb and fodder which are growing along the road. The predators are hunting these ungulates. So it is a very used area by the fauna and it is crossing the area. According to a study, realized by Wildlife Institute of India in 1997-1998, 46 animals of great fauna were killed by vehicles along the road of Corbett Tiger Reserve : 5 tigers, 4 leopards and 37 Langhos. More recently, a Jungle has been killed by a car in the studied area in May 2008 so as one tiger. These animals were crossing the corridor, but the most hit animals are reptiles. Everyday there are new corpses on the road.

III.5 Other impacts

Since a few years, Wildlife Institute of India and other organisms have realized several studies about the threat on biodiversity. They have established that roads are the most dangerous obstacles. Impacts of the roads could be classed into 6 categories:

-        Fragmentation or modification of habitats (when a road split one area into two)

-        Flow Restriction of the fauna, notably inside corridors

-        Mortality of animals after a collision

-        Soil erosion and hydrological degradation specially in mountain areas

-        Pollution of the environment : air, sound, garbage thrown

-        Human colonization that is inducing disturbance : Axis of circulation as roads ease implantation of people inside wild areas, they also have the possibility to exploit natural resources thanks to the accessibility of the road

ü   Garbage pollution

Along the road, many garbage are thrown such as plastic bags, chips packet, glass bottle… There are lead by the wind to the forest. These garbage attracts monkeys which are eating the rests and sometimes some plastic bags. They can indeed been intoxicated and hurt by pieces of glass. There is no recycling cycle which is set in India, and people throw their garbage anywhere.

ü   Modification of the vegetation along the road

Vegetation along the road is not quite developed, there are some bushes of Lantana but often they are quit open. During monsoon season, there is a explosion of vegetation and pioneer species are setting in these human modified areas. On the Tiger Reserve side, there are some teaks which are growing irregularly. ON the other side, there are large stretch of Parthenium (1m), followed by large stretch of Lantana (5m). These bushes are making the circulation of animals almost impossible. Moreover the Parthenium is very appreciated by the fauna, because of its allergens proprieties.

We can conclude that obstacles, natural or artificial, are setting trouble in fauna circulation. The road and its fast and dense traffic, its modification on the vegetation are creating obstacles for animals. There is also many consequences of a road on human activities that are seriously disturbing the circulation inside the corridor.

IV.          Solutions for conservation

As we know this corridor is frequently used by tigers and is very important during drought season to access to the water, in Kosi river. However there are many obstacles that are disturbing the circulation of animals. We have to think of solutions to ease the connectivity, in order to protect and conserve the fauna. It is important to know that, by protecting the Bengal Tiger, you will indeed protect all the other species. We can consider tiger as a “umbrella species”. I have set a project of economical development of the local communities, focused on Ringora village.

IV.1. Short term solutions

1) Study deeper the corridor

My study was more focused on fauna circulation. I have not detailed the vegetation survey very deeply. We would need a exhaustive inventory of all species in each habitats. It will help to use the Braun Blanquet method, which is based on a recovering scale, using a dominance abundance coefficient. The studied area should be more wide. Then we should compare the diversity of the studied area to the diversity of the buffer area.

Scale of dominance-abundance coefficient of Braun-Blanquet

Ø      5 : Recovery > 3/4 of the touchstone surface

(> 75%, Rm =87,5%) (Rm= Average recover)

Ø      4 : Recovery between 1/2 et 3/4

(50–75%, Rm=62,5%)

Ø      3 : Recovery between 1/4 et ½

(25–50, Rm=37,5%)

Ø      2 : Recovery between 1/20 et 1/4

(5–25%, Rm=15,0%)

Ø      1 : Recovery < 1/20, or uncollected plants till 1/20

(5%, Rm=2,5%)

Ø      + : Few plants, bad recovery

(Rm=0,1%)

Ø      r : Rare

Ø      i : One plant only

We should also study human impacts on the buffer area of the reserve by focusing on the wood collection. It would be interesting to study these impacts and find some sustainable solutions about it. Human-animal conflict are a huge problem here, as many women have been attacked by predators. Mostly because their territory is shrinking back and leads to increase the conflict. Many data about wood collection has been collected by Mahseer Conservancy and its team.

2) Photographical identification of tigers

As an extension to my report, it would be interesting to set up cameras and use this new method to estimate the real number of tigers on the corridor. It is quite easy because we already know where they are crossing the corridor. We can also set up a photo-trap system in defined area to capture them. This method can be also used for the tiger census, which would be on with some researchers.

This method should be done in parallel with hair collection (on tree, territory marks…). We would extract the DNA out of them and the identity of each animals will be revealed. It can afterwards been classified in a data bank with individual. During my internship I have collected several hairs and have sent them for analysis. Unfortunately the project failed due to a lack of funds and tools.

  • Principles of “capture-recapture sampling” system

This principles consist in setting systems at defined places, which are suppose to be used by tiger (tracks, Nullah, water point). On a defined points, there are two cameras equipped with infrared lenses. They are set at 7m on the opposite side of each other. When a tiger enter the area, the two cameras take pictures. The aim is to identify the black stripes on them as they are specific to every single tiger, it makes their identity. The tiger is taken at the both sides. The cameras are focused also to capture cubs; The cameras are adapted to local weather and wet conditions. They can also save energy with their saving function, as they are not taking picture from a long time; it is indeed not using so much battery. Every cameras and batteries have to be controlled frequently by the forest guards. Each camera costs 10 000 rupees. They are made by the Institute of science of  Bangalore, but a big part is imported from the States. Today researchers need 100 cameras for 50 points of observation. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has told to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to get these cameras for the census. It has started in January 2010 and guides and forest guards were formed.

I would proposed 8 points of installations of these cameras, 4 in Corbett Tiger Reserve and 4 in the Forest Division of Ramnagar (1 on the Nullah, 3 in the village). To be more exhaustive much more points have to be set (refer to the map in Appendix.)

The tracks n°1 and n°2 are frequently used by tigers. Forest guards have confirmed that. The fire line is a track made by humans for the firemen to go in. Tiger like particularly this tracks, and many footprints have been observed.  The track n°4  is used when the tigers have just crossed the road. There is also a possibility to take some pictures there.

The Nullah is also very used by animals, notably by the male, perhaps it is due to abundance of prey which are going to the river. It is however difficult to set a point there because the path is quite wide and the animals could go along it.

The track of Langhos and “Panera” (=source in Hindi)  is used by the tigress every day during monsoon. To get higher chances of capture it with its cubs, two points have been chosen. However the path is frequently used during the day by villagers as it is a way to drinking water… Before setting any cameras there, people have to be aware of their fragility not to degrade them. Moreover they have to contour the camera points not to use so much battery.

Then the track n°8 is used by elephants and tigers to cross the road. For the 16 camera, it would cost 160000 rupees;

3) Study deeper the obstacles

It would be important to redo traffic survey to get an average on traffic at movement time of animals, during a whole year, regarding all season and months… This survey could be done by a intern of Mahseer Conservancy.

4) Tourists awareness

After my internship, I have realized a PowerPoint slideshow to explain my work in India. I have shown it to the tourists of Tiger Camp hostel, who would visit the reserve and the region.

These people were paying truly attention to my presentation and have asked many questions. After I left, I gave it to my internship boss and the guides to go on showing it to tourist. As an extension on that, I am working on a handout about the tiger, the threats which are on them. And another one about the corridor, what is it exactly, why is it important. These handouts would be dealt to tourist of Tiger Camp.

5) Invasive plant management

Today there are many actions and decisions which are taken and done for the invasive plants problems. The Forest Department of Uttarakhand is in charge of that. The forest guards are experimenting methods to call halt to their colonization and reinstate the original vegetation.

ü   Parthenium hysterophorus

Inside the Ringora Corridor, the Parthenium is implanted along the road. The management is done only on that area, which have been created by human activities. The area is reaped frequently with a adequate tractor driven by a forest guard. The time of reaping is during monsoon, when the heavy rains leads to an explosion of vegetation. Several reaping are done if necessary. However it does not stop the Parthenium the next year. As a India study shows, a competitive species as Cassia sericea are quite efficient, so as herbicides and insect releases. But many study are done to make the decrease sustainable.

ü   Lantana camara

Many methods are done by the Forest Department. A first one was to burn the plants from its feet, but the Lantana can regenerate and become stronger. It have deep roots which allow their re-growth. A second one was to uproot the plants and burn their basis. They uproot it and make sure that the roots can not reach the soil anymore. However burning huge amount of lantana is rejecting a lot of CO2 which is not wanted. That is why Mahseer conservancy is launching a project called “Welfare”. Its aim is to make local people aware of their natural resources and protected to make them sustainable, they also depend on them. This project would take place in the corridor of Ringora, while the entire area is invaded. A new actor would participate in this aim, ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment and a NGO based in Bangalore. This Ngo is pioneer in the field of transformation of lantana into general furniture. Thanks to their actions, a village is now specialized in furniture making as chairs, tables, desks… As a result, villagers get incomes from that production and the development of lantana is reduced. Ringora would be sooner the new target of this project leaded by the Mahseer Conservancy. Thus any plants would be collected and transformed.

After the uprooting of all these plants, some reforestation plans would take place on each site of uprooting. And local plants would be implanted instead to restart natural regeneration and reinstate the original vegetation. Along the road would be implanted mainly Gramineas, some herbs and local bushes. These plants would be collected mainly in the natural surroundings.

This program is very important and many things would be done in the coming times. In long term, the original vegetation would be entirely reinstate if the project is a success. The corridor would also been more efficient, more used by the fauna and by species which have used to contour the lantana.

6) Trucks Forbidden

From my result of the traffic survey, we know that the most dangerous time for the fauna is 7PM. It is the time when people go back home, by car, taxis or buses. Trucks are stopped in Ramnagar before the night. But only in one direction, there are still truck which are driving in the other direction. If we stop them in Dhikuli, fauna would be spared and be able to cross safely the road. If only the trucks would have the permission drive again, the day after, after 8AM, when there is no more danger to encounter animals crossing. To do that we have to know the average of trucks which are stopped every night in Ramnagar and to fit out a place in Dhikuli. The question is now to know if there is enough place in Dhikuli. This decision is still in discussion, some people want to stop all traffic after 6 PM and to reinstate it after 7AM or to tax people who are passing through that road during those times.

IV.2 Mid term measures

The teak plantations are likely to be exploited in 3 or 5 five years. After the final lopping, new teaks would be planted. However the Forest Department is affirming that there are too many plantations in this area. That is why, in partnership with the Forest Department, mixed forest would be implanted. Mixed forest would permit to reinstate original natural forest, to increasing the biodiversity, and grant the animals to colonize back the area. Today the surface which be transformed is not yet known. The planted trees would be Rohini (Mallotus philippensis), Sal tree (Shorea robusta), the Peelu, the Taldu, the Haldou (Hadina cardifolia) and some bushes as the curry tree and Gramineas.

IV.3 Long term measures

If there would be an increase of the use of the corridor by the fauna, a ecological bridge would be built, this project was proposed by Sumantha Ghosh, the president of Mahseer Conservancy. The animals would cross the road as usual, but the car would take the bridge above. On this site the bridge would start at the way out of Dhikuli and end at Ringora, not isolate this village.

This project is very expensive and would be time consuming. It would indeed need a great amount of funds and nobody, notably the conservancy can afford that.

To conclude, the future of the corridor depends on the conservancy, on its future conservation actions, and its future study and its future interns and projects.

CONCLUSION

The ecological corridor of Ringora is a very important for the fauna. This study has revealed that it is used frequently by two permanent adults and two young or itinerant tigers. It also contains a mosaic of habitats: animals can have access to water at the river, to shelter places and access to food. Parallel to these advantages, fauna is encountering many obstacles. Most of them are result of human activities, for example the dense and fast traffic on the road which is crossing the corridor. The human pressure is important on the corridor such as deforestation. During the drought season, this corridor plays a crucial role for the fauna, it is the only way for them to have access to water, at the Kosi river, in the Ramnagar Forest Division. That is why it is very important to preserve this connectivity and to limit its degradation. In that aim, several measures will be taken as:

-     Management and exploitation of invasive plants

-     Diminution of traffic till 7PM to 7AM, in the north, after Dhikuli

-     Awareness programs on tourist

-     Monitoring of tigers by photographical capture

Complementary studies would also be made. Perhaps, at end there would be a bridge above the road, but it is still a project in building and it needs much funds and the corridor is not enough wide to realize that.



Leave a Reply