How the Western Ghats and beyond have been pillaged

As I drove slowly on a winter morning on the dusty roads of Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve, a set of pugmarks revealed that a tiger had ambled along the track. The pugmarks looking brilliant in the soft morning light enthralled me. About thirteen years ago I was witness to giant tippers filled with iron ore speeding on these same roads ensuring near decimation of large-bodied wildlife from this area. This reserve was mining precincts till the late 1990s when a landmark Supreme Court judgment ordered the stoppage of all non-forestry activities within protected areas. Wildlife is slowly recovering in Dandeli-Anshi though other depletive factors continue to endanger this high potential area for tiger and its prey.

Karnataka which holds the largest iron ore reserves anywhere in the country has pillaged ecologically sensitive areas in the Western Ghats for several decades. Iron ore mining and quarrying for granite has taken a severe toll in key wildlife habitats. This has resulted in disastrous effects through habitat fragmentation, especially for those species that require large home ranges and are sensitive to disturbances. Tigers, elephants, dholes, lion-tailed macaques, great pied hornbill, to name a few such species. These animals are fussy about where and how they live.

Full article can be read in The Hindu's Survey of the Environment 2010. The publication is now on stands. Copies can be obtained by Registered Post (not V.P.P.) for Rs.80 (Rupees Eighty) by drawing a cheque in favour of "Kasturi and Sons Ltd." (Add Rs.10 for non-Chennai cheques) and sending it to the Circulation Department, The Hindu, 859-860, Anna Salai, Chennai 600002 Email: subs@thehindu.co.in

Sanjay Gubbi works for the Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program.