The 24-year-old Kalakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), spread over 895 square kilometres on the southern tip of the Western Ghats with rich biodiversity, has bagged the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) award in the ‘Best coexistence and buffer zone management' category.
In the all-India meeting of Field Directors of Tiger Reserves and Chief Wildlife Wardens of Tiger States held in New Delhi on May 2, Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, KMTR, Sanjay K. Srivastava, received the award from Minister for Environment Jayanthi Natarajan. “This is indeed an honour for the KMTR, a recognition for the stakeholders' participation in preserving the biodiversity hotspot of Western Ghats and an appreciation for the forest personnel's commitment in conserving one of the finest tiger reserves in the country,” Mr. Sanjay, who assumed office only a month ago, told reporters here on Friday.
A screening committee formed by the NTCA selected the best tiger sanctuaries under 11 categories based on the statistics provided by the tiger reserves.
Since the KMTR started introducing development and livelihood programmes for the forest dependents through the eco development project introduced in 1995, the pressure exerted by the villagers living in the hamlets close to the tiger reserve in the forest for collecting minor forest produce, timber, poaching etc., came down drastically.
Moreover, micro credit system introduced as part of the eco development project for the benefit of forest dependents for starting their own minor business ventures showed them alternative livelihood avenues and ultimately resulted in desirable impact in the conservation of the tiger reserve.
At the same time, special efforts were being taken to completely eliminate poaching and anti-social activities within the KMTR through intense patrolling and also by involving Village Forest Committees ever since the eco development project was introduced.
“All these measures jointly taken by the forest personnel and the stakeholders have yielded excellent results in the form of the award, which is certainly a recognition to the sustained efforts initiated by our personnel, officers and the once forest-dependents,” said Mr. Sanjay.
Deputy Director, KMTR-Mundanthurai D. Venkatesh, and Deputy Director, KMTR- Kalakkad K. Sekar were present.