Spread over a vast expanse of over 1,400km, Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary, a significant wildlife corridor of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve between Eastern and Western Ghats, has transformed into fourth Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, on Sunday, in addition to the Anamalai, Mudumalai, and Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserves.
A wildlife sanctuary since November 3, 2008, the Sathyamangalam forest division was expanded to 1.41 lakh hectares in 2011 from the then existing 52,434 hectares, making it one of the largest reserves in the world.
The largest chunks of additional area were from Guthiyalathur (48,792 hectares) and Talamalai reserve forests (31,987 hectares).
In the new Tiger Reserve considered significant for its range of flora and fauna, the Sathyamangalam forest division has been split into two, with a new division headquartered at Hasanur.
The Sathy Forest Division would now has jurisdiction over 88,131.56 hectares and Hassanur Division 57,399.36 hectares, District Forest Officer, Sathyamangalam, K. Rajkumar told The Hindu.
Earlier, there were five territorial ranges: Sathyamangalam, Thookanaickanapalayam, Bhavanisagar, Hassanur, and Talavadi, and a Forest Protection Squad in the Sathyamangalam Forest Division.
Henceforth, there would be two new ranges in Hassanur Division: Germalam and Talamalai. The new Hassanur Division would also have Eco-development Range additionally.
Rangers of territorial ranges would be able to devote their entire attention on protection. Creation of an additional division and more ranges would make administration easier, Mr. Rajkumar said.
The habitat with varied forest type is considered unique for supporting a variety of wildlife including elephants, striped hyenas, vultures, gaurs, leopards, and deers, besides tigers.
At last count, 28 tigers were found in camera trapping study conducted in December 2011 by World Wildlife Fund. The pug marks were confirmed by the Centre for Molecular Biology Hyderabad. The habitat with 90,000 hectares of core zone is the largest home for over 1,200 elephants.
Nests of vultures were sighted in Moyar valley in 2010, sources said.
In the reorganised Erode Forest Circle, the existing Erode Division and Bamboo Plantation Division, Gobichettipalayam have been attached with the Conservator of Forests and Field Director, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Erode.
The existing Namakkal forest division has been attached to Salem Circle under the control of Conservator of Forests, Salem.