Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wildlife NGOs resume work, but await showdown with forest dept on Aug 1.

VADODARA: Scanty rains in the country may spell drought, but for Vadodara residents, less rains also mean less encounters with the wildlife, especially the reptiles, who come out in droves when it rains.
This is also proving to be blessings of sorts for both the administration as well as the residents, since the wildlife NGOs in the city are in confrontation with the forest and wildlife department over certain new conditions imposed by the department. The NGOs, who had gone on strike over the new rules, have resumed work since last week, but it's still an uneasy truce. The matter would come up for discussion on August 1 when senior department officials from Gandhinagar arrive here for a meeting with NGOs.
"The new rules say that we have to inform the department every time we go to attend a rescue call. Further, we have been asked to deposit the animal or reptile with the forest department within half an hour of catching it. Now, this is proving to be a bone of contention since, on an average rainy day, we get over 25-30 calls and if, every time, we had to make a trip back to the department to drop the reptile, we would be able to attend only a fraction of those calls. The new rule is neither practical, nor does it make any sense, especially when the wildlife act says that we have to deposit the animals/reptiles within 48 hours," said a volunteer with one of the NGOs.
After organizing a strike for one week, the NGOs started attending distress calls from residents after a meeting with Vadodara-based forest department official, R G Prajapati, who, reportedly assured that that the new rules could be discussed at the August 1 meeting. It helped that scanty rains are keeping reptiles mostly in their own habitats, instead of straying into homes and gardens, as was the case at the beginning of rainy season. "The matter has to reach a conclusion," said the head of one NGO.
Box: Reptiles rescued
A cobra was rescued on Monday morning from ONGC campus where it had entered a room cooler, and was unable to come out. Later, in the afternoon, a rat snake was spotted in the school inside the campus, forcing the authorities to again send a distress call to Crocodile group, which had rescued the cobra earlier. "We have been getting four to five calls these days even if it is not raining," said the volunteer. Two days ago, the NGOs and the forest department rescued a 6-foot crocodile from a village near Jhambughoda where it had come out of a pond only to slip into a freshly dug well nearby. The volunteers drained water equal to 15-20 tanker loads with the help of pumping machines to rescue the crocodile.

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