The State Forest and Wildlife Department has submitted a 10-year Tiger Conservation Plan (2011-12 to 2020-21) to the National Tiger Conservation Authority for conservation of the tigers and the biodiversity of the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. The cost of the conservation plan is estimated at Rs.58.8 crore.
The plan is “to promote conservation of tiger, co-predators and prey species of tiger at landscape level and sustainable use of natural resources by communities and stakeholders.”
Lying south of the Palghat Gap in the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats, one of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots, the reserve has an area of 4,705 sq km (3,225.73 sq km in Kerala and 1,479.29 sq km in Tamil Nadu). The core area of the reserve in Kerala comes to 390.89 sq km, the buffer zone 252.77 sq km, and adjacent areas 2,582 sq km.
Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Om Prakash Kaler, who has prepared the 545-page proposal, told The Hindu here on Wednesday that under the plan, the core area of the tiger reserve will be strictly protected from all kinds of threats such as poaching, fire, biotic pressures, tourism, etc. Measures for improving the habitat quality will be taken so that prey species of the tiger, co-predators, and other endangered flora and fauna flourish in the area.
He says the presence of 20 tigers in the landscape underscores the importance of the reserve. It supports the healthy population of several other endangered wild animals as well.
The number of endemic species in the landscape indicates the bio-geographic significance of the area. There are 473 (26 per cent) species of flowering plants which are endemic to the Western Ghats. Of these, 162 are trees, 89 shrubs, 165 herbs, 29 climbers, 18 lianas, and eight stragglers.
Among the recorded species, 145 are categorised under ‘critical conservation status.' Of these, 40 are endangered, 38 vulnerable, 49 rare, and the remaining comes under other categories. Among the rare and endangered species, 85 are endemics.
Haplothismia exannulata, thought to be extinct, has been recorded at Parambikulam. Similarly, Colubrina travancorica, a climber recorded last century and thought to be extinct since then, has been rediscovered.
Some of the endangered species here include Aglaia malabarica, Apporosa bourdillonni, Ardisia sonachifolia, etc.
The floral diversity of the reserve is extraordinary. A recent survey by the Kerala Forest Research Institute has found that the area supports an estimated 1,400 species of angiosperms. So far, 1,320 species of flowering plants belonging to 680 genera and 133 families have been identified. These include about 70 species of orchid.
The Parambikulam reserve supports one of the highest densities of gaur population in South India. The only South Indian wild goat, Nilgiri tahr, is found in the high altitude rocky hills and grasslands of the reserve.
A healthy population of 250-300 endangered lion-tailed macaques among other primates and arboreal animals are also found here.
The endemic freshwater fish of masheer is found here, the report says.
Mr. Kaler says the major threat the reserve faces are poaching, illegal entry points, ganja cultivation, and sandalwood smuggling.
Keywords: Parambikulam Tiger Reserve