A Correspondent

To be showcased as an international destination for tiger protection

KATTAPPANA: The platinum jubilee celebration of Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR), the first of its kind in Kerala, will begin at Thekkady on Monday. A two-day national seminar on ‘People and Tigers Shifting Trajectories of Ecology and Co-Existance’ is the highlight of the programme which will be inaugurated by Minister for Forest Benoy Viswom at 11 a.m. on Monday.

Two-day seminar

Scientists, wildlife biologists, naturalists, representatives of reputed non-governmental organisations, policy makers and senior forest department officials will attend the function. K. Francis George MP and E.S. Bijimol MLA will deliver the special and presidential addresses, respectively. Dr. Rajesh Gopal will deliver the keynote address.

The blueprint for a year’s programme in connection with the platinum jubilee will be drawn up after the inaugural programme, sources said and added that about 200 naturalists and forest department officials from various parts of the country will attend the seminar.

The wildlife sanctuary was started as ‘Nellikkampetty Game Sanctuary’, in 1934. The presence of wild animals in Thekkady was noticed by the authorities during the construction of Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895 and the ‘Periyar Lake Reserve’ was formed incorporating the adjoining areas near the reservoir with Peerumade as its headquarters.

Project Elephant

More areas were added to the sanctuary and in 1978, it was declared as the tenth tiger reserve in the country. With the 1982 declaration of assigning it a national sanctuary status, PTR was included in the ‘Project Elephant’ scheme announced by the Centre. The reserve has a 375 sq.km. area of core forest and 96 kilometre border with Tamil Nadu.

According to official figures, PTR has 62 species of endangered mammals, 320 species of birds, 45 species of reptiles and 160 butterfly varieties. According to the wildlife census that the number of elephants in PTR is between 900 and1,000 and tigers between 35 to 40. It has a rich flora and fauna and accommodates 350 varieties of medicinal plants.

Tiger protection

Though the main attraction of a tour to Thekkady is the boat journey in the Periyar lake, some tourists prefer to go for a trek in the PTR. Officials said that the year-long programme highlighting the importance of PTR will stress on showcasing PTR as an international destination for tiger protection and preservation of nature.