Human settlements, a threat to Sathyamangalam tiger reserve

P. Oppili
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Unauthorised temples, new resorts disturbing the tranquillity

The presence of a large number of people in core areas disrupts movement of animals.
The presence of a large number of people in core areas disrupts movement of animals.

Unauthorised temples, new resorts and makeshift shops inside the core area are major threats the newly formed Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve is facing.

The State government announced the formation of the fourth tiger reserve in the State through a notification, issued on March 15 this year.

Members of the Tamil Nadu Green Movement pointed out that several unauthorised places of worship were found inside the tiger reserve. There are three main temples – Karuvannayan temple near Nandhipuram, Bannariamman temple Bannari and Madeswara temple in Kongalli. The three temples are under the control of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Board. Apart from them, several unauthorised temples are found inside the core area, say the members.

People visiting these temples camp there, even cook, and travel in large numbers into the core areas in trucks. Their movement creates a lot of disturbance to the wildlife. The State government must immediately relocate the unauthorised temples from the core areas, the members pointed out.

Another important issue is the springing up of new resorts in the core areas. S. Jayachandran of the Tamil Nadu Green Movement said Kongalli, Mavallam, Araiya Palayam and Hasanur are the places where the resorts are coming up. There were more than 200 resorts inside the STR.

Man-animal conflict

In the long run, it will lead to man-animal conflict, he said. The department officials have to immediately promulgate the ecologically sensitive zone to stop any more resorts in the core areas, he said.

Environmentalists also pointed out that during festival season, people set up shops, stay in the forests and defecate in the core tiger reserve area. Temporary shops have come up right on the elephant corridors located between Susilkuttail and Bannari. The Forest department authorities have to intervene and take action under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, the activists said.

‘Make them partners’

Raman Sukumar, Professor and Chairman, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Sciences, who began his research on elephants in the early 1980s, said the tiger population had increased substantially in the Sathyamangalam area. A good number of settlements over a century old were in Hasanur, Talamalai, Geddasal, Chikkahalli, Neydalapuram and Kadambur, to name a few. People in these settlements co-existed with the tigers over time. These people should be made partners in the management of the tiger reserve.



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