Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Activity Update April 2017: Pench Maharashtra


Field Assistant Dilip Lanjewar helps to put out a fire in the Fulzari beat

Fighting a forest fire in Chargaon

Our Field Assistant Bandu Uikey and the rest of the team
after putting out a major fire

Awaleghat - our Field Assistant Balkrishna Bagmare helps
villagers put up water pots for birds

Village EcoDevelopment Committee members on forest patrol
with our team and the Forest Department staff

Free health camp at Khudsapar: Dr Bhasme with a patient

Our team helping to clean a park waterhole

Pipariya - our President Kishor Rithe talking to students from
a Nagpur college at our nature camp

Sawara: Our Field Assistant explains the importance of water
to children on a nature trail

Sawara children on a nature trail


Team: Mandar Pingle – Conservation Officer
            Bandu Uikey, Dilip Lanjewar – Field assistants

·      Team assisted in fighting fires in the forest on seven occasions
·      One voluntary work project organised to clean a water hole
·      One check dam constructed on World Earth Day
·      Dilip organised Village Eco-development Committee (VEDC) forest patrols in Khapa and Wagholi once each
·      Bandu joined Forest Department staff in patrol once in Ghorad beat
·      Meetings organised to sensitize villagers on the issue of ill effects of forest fires
·      Dilip organised one nature trail each for children of Khapa, Sawara and Sillari villages - total of 41 children participated
·      A total of 188 patients treated during 6 free health camps


On April 15, Bandu Uikey led a team of 3 villagers of Kolitmara to join 2 staff members of the Forest Department in a programme to clean a waterhole at Mama Tower hut in core area of Pench Tiger Reserve. Leaves and other organic matter had fallen into the waterhole and clogged it up, making it difficult for wildlife to drink. In the recent past, cases of poisoning of water hole have come to front and it has been speculated that some tigers have been killed due to poisoning. Bandu demonstrated the use of litmus paper to the Forest Department staff to check the water hole for poisoning. After our programme, the water hole is being used by wild life for drinking once again.

On April 21, Dilip Lanjewar led a team of 6 members of the Village Eco-Development Committee (VEDC) from Wagholi on a foot patrol in the forest near their village. The VEDC members checked for indications of illegal tree felling or poaching during the patrol. No such illegal activities were recorded during the patrol. They also checked for presence of wildlife from the pugmarks, hoof marks, scat or dung.

There were many indications of wildlife, including tigers in the area.

Dilip asked the villagers to take appropriate care to avoid any conflict with wildlife and to also keep a vigil for any illegal activities.

A similar patrol was organised by Dilip on April 23 along with 5 VEDC members of Khapa village. These community-based patrols are supplemental to the regular patrols being done by the Forest Department. During the summer season, these patrol teams also look out for any forest fires.  

On April 18, Mandar Pingle and Dilip Lanjewar assisted Forest Department staff in controlling a forest fire near Fulzari village inside the core area in East Range of Pench Tiger Reserve. The fire engulfed almost 80 hectares of forest area.

According to the Forest Department officials, the fire seemed to have been deliberately started by some miscreants. However, the Forest Department staff along with villagers, tourist guides, and Gypsy jeep drivers from Ghoti, Pipariya, Sillari and Salai villages controlled the fire.

The Forest Department is now investigating the matter and a search is on for the culprits.

A similar such fire was reported near Fulzari on April 7 morning as well. Dilip Lanjewar successfully assisted the Forest Department staff in fighting that fire along with some youths from Ghoti village.

On April 12, Bandu Uikey assisted Forest Department staff and villagers from Ghatpendari in fighting a fire in the Ghorad beat on the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh border. Upon receiving information regarding the fire, Bandu organised a team of youths and led the team in fighting the fire successfully.

This area witnessed fires in the month of April 2017 on numerous occasions. Hence, Bandu Uikey along with the Forest Department staff organised regular foot patrols in the area. The fires did not occur once the team started patrolling the area.

It is speculated that villagers involved in collecting minor forest produce might be responsible for these fires. However no culprit was caught and investigations are under way.

On April 21, Balkrishna Bagmare and 4 villagers controlled a fire that could have spread from a farm towards the forest area. A fire started in a farm on the boundary of Pench Tiger Reserve near Chargaon village, went out of control and stated spreading towards the forest area. Balkrishna and 4 villagers immediately took action and controlled the fire from spreading towards the forest area.

On April 28, Dilip Lanjewar, Bandu Uikey and Mandar Pingle assisted Forest Department staff in detecting and controlling a fire in Pauni buffer range of Pench Tiger Reserve.

On the afternoon of April 28, Satpuda Foundation’s staff Rajesh Dongre informed Mandar and Dilip that smoke is visible from the forest area. Mandar, Dilip and Bandu immediately rushed to the spot and confirmed that there was a fire in the forest near the Hiwara-Salai road.

Mandar immediately informed Range Forest Officer (RFO) Mr. Pakhale. RFO Mr. Pakhale dispatched a team of Forest Department to control the fire. The fire was successfully controlled with the use of blower machines.

Every year, at the onset of summer season, central Indian landscape witnesses a steep rise in farm and forest fires. Most of these fires are man-made.

Farmers burn farm waste as it reduces their labor costs for waste removal while some fires in the forest are started by miscreants nursing grudges against the Forest Department.

On April 13, Dilip Lanjewar organised a meeting for a self-help group (SHG) of women from Kadbikheda village. During the meeting, Dilip made the women aware about the ill-effects of forest fires and burning farm waste. He informed them that by burning farm waste, useful microorganisms like earthworms in the fertile layer of the soil are killed unnecessarily. Burning the farm waste also leads to loss of moisture from the top layer of soil leading to increased rate of soil erosion.

Dilip explained to the women that instead of burning the farm waste, they can turn the farm waste into organic compost in numerous cost effective ways.

A similar such meeting was organised by Dilip in Ghoti village on April 19 during which the members of ‘Vyaghra Mitra Mandal’ actively participated.

On April 24, Dilip led 17 children from Sawara village on a nature trail in the jungle adjoining the village. On the trail, Dilip identified various species of local flora and fauna and explained the need for conservation to the children. Dilip also played informative nature games with the kids. He then read to them about various tree species from the book titled ‘Trees of Central Indian Jungles’ and gave the kids detailed information on various fruit and flower trees found in the forest close to their village as well as other parts of the landscape.

Similar nature trails were organised by Dilip on April 23 in Khapa village in which 13 kids participated and on April 27 for 11 children of Sillari village.

On April 22, Satpuda Foundation celebrated ‘Vishwa Vasundhara Divas’ (World Earth Day) in various parts of Pench Tiger Reserve.

In East Pench Range, Mandar Pingle and Dilip Lanjewar organised a meeting with villagers of Wagholi to sensitize them about the ill-effects of forest fires and farm fires. Mandar and Dilip requested the villagers to shun wrong agricultural practices like burning farm waste and adopt organic farming and composting techniques.

Bandu Uikey and Balkrishna Bagmare celebrated the day with students of Zilla Parishad Primary school in Siladevi village. Later they organised a voluntary work project programme to construct a check dam on a stream near the village. The check dam is an effort to conserve water during the harsh, dry summer season.

Mobile Health Unit (MHU)

There were 6 camps in April.

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