Big cats increase, but not their habitat size

Official hints at space crunch in accommodating tigers at Nagarahole

The steady increase in tiger population in the State yet again underlines the need to expand the tiger habitat lest it results in more tiger-human conflicts in the periphery of national parks.

This came to the fore early this year in the Nagarahole belt with a spate of tiger deaths, while five human deaths were reported from the Bandipur fringes during December-January in 2013-14.

Nagarahole park director Manikandan hinted at space crunch to accommodate the growing tiger population in Nagarahole. “The park has a boundary of 220 km of which 150 km has human habitation and there is no buffer forest on the eastern and western boundary of the national park which adjoins villages,” he added

Conservationist Sanjay Gubbi said owing to effective protection, tiger numbers in areas like Nagarahole and Bandipur have reached ecological carrying capacities, and this at times has led to serious conflicts.

He called for securing corridors connected to areas of potential tiger habitat. The Padri, Hilldale, Thirunelli reserve forests in Kerala are critical for connecting Nagarahole Tiger Reserve to Bramhagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, explained Mr. Gubbi, besides identifying many reserved forests in Karnataka that connect one larger tiger habitat to another.

C.M. Muthanna of Wildlife Conservation Society, India Programme, said nearly 300 sq km of reserve forests around Nagarahole could be declared protected area to accommodate expanding tiger and prey population.

Mr. Gubbi and others, in the paper “Providing more protected space for tigers: a landscape conservation approach in the Western Ghats” in the journal Oryx, identified nearly 2,150 sq km of reserved forests within Karnataka that are high potential tiger habitats and need to be notified as protected areas. “Such measures will help young, dispersing tigers to move into potential areas with less competition for food,” he said.

If this is implemented, Mr. Gubbi says most protected areas in the Western Ghats of Karnataka can be interlinked ensuring a connectivity from Bannerghatta National Park adjoining Bengaluru to Aghanashini Conservation Reserve in Uttara Kannada district. This will not only provide contiguity of space and habitat for wildlife, it will help absorb spillover population and reduce conflict situation.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 2:46:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/big-cats-increase-but-not-their-habitat-size/article19096565.ece

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