A slew of measures are being initiated in a bid to prevent poaching, encroaching and grazing in vulnerable areas in and around 21 wildlife sanctuaries and six national parks in the State.
Besides beefing up security, an inventory of wildlife resources, including cattle and water availability was being undertaken. “We are strictly trying to see that poaching is not there by stepping up the security. We would like to see that the wildlife herbivore base is built up,” said a senior official of the Forests Department.
The official said the herbivores like spotted deer, sambar, red and grey jungle fowls are frequently poached by people living in settlements near the sanctuaries and the parks. The Forest Department has set up 175 base camps in the vulnerable areas and their number would be increased. Besides, it was also engaging mobile strike forces with each unit headed by a forest section officer or a deputy ranger. The force is provided with a jeep and five tribal protection watchers.
Also 300 animal trackers were engaged across the State to keep a track of the wild life, remove snares and report movement of poachers. Their number would be enhanced as per necessity.
Since grazing was free in Andhra Pradesh forests, 4 to 5 lakh cattle used to come from neighbouring states and as far as Rajasthan to Kawal wildlife sanctuary.
But because of increased security, the number has now reduced to 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh cattle, mostly from surrounding villages.
The improvement in herbivore population in Kawal Tiger Reserve and Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) already had some positive impact—the tiger population increased slightly in NSTR and 11-12 cubs were sighted in the last two years. While the overall tiger population in the State would be between 75 and 85, their number would be 55-65 in NSTR.
With summer fast approaching, it was also decided to provide a water hole in every 10 sq.km in the sanctuaries and parks. “Wild animals normally move up to 10 km distance in search of water in summer”.
The department is planning to install before March end two more solar water pumps in NSTR, four in Kawal Tiger Reserve and three in GBM national park.