B2 (1997-2011)

B2 (1997-2011)

Monday, 26 December 2011

WWF study confirms at least 25 tigers in Sathyamangalam forests

COIMBATORE: A recent study by World Wildlife Fund ( WWF) using camera trap method at the Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary has confirmed that the 1.41 lakh hectare-stretch of forest at the confluence of Western and Eastern Ghats is home to at least 25 tigers. A DNA finger print-based project initiated by the state forest department had collected 150 samples of pugmarks from Sathyamangalam forests recently and 69 among them were found positive at the tests conducted at Centre for Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. The lab findings indicate that the region is home to tigers, ranging from 18 to 30.

Armed with the two study reports, the forest department has prepared a detailed project report for submission before the state government and it would come up for consideration before the cabinet in a couple of weeks. The Union ministry of environment and forests has already advised the state government to make it a tiger reserve under Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. Kalakkad-Mundanthurai, Indira Gandhi National Park in Anamalai and Mudumalai National Park are the existing tiger reserves in the state.

"Sathyamangalam forests deserve the tiger reserve status. If declared, that would help total habitat improvement. There would be projects that would help not only the tigers but also the entire flora and fauna of the region,'' said divisional forest officer (DFO) N Sathish. Apart from tigers, the forests are known for a large number of vultures and elephants. "It is home to one fourth of the elephants in the state with an estimated population of 1,250. Sathyamangalam is also a migratory path for over 6,000 Asiatic elephants which move from the Nilgiris to Bandipur in Karnataka,'' Sathish said. It also has a large number of black bucks and hyenas.

Its links with Mudumalai, Bandipur and BR Hills sanctuaries would turn advantageous in protection of big cats as they can roam around freely in a large contiguous stretch of forests without any disturbance. It was only in August this year that Sathyamangalam got wildlife sanctuary status. Recently, the sanctuary was expanded with the inclusion of forest reserves like Guthiyalathur, Akurjakkarai, Thalamalai, Berabetta, Ullepalayam and the eastern slopes of the Nilgiris, under it.

These forests, which were considered Veerappan territory, are under threat from the laterite-mining and timber mafias. If the forest is declared a tiger sanctuary, more personnel would be sanctioned for its protection. That, forest officials said, would be a major help in keep the mafiosi at bay.


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