Tiger Reserve status accorded for the 1.40 lakh hectares of Sathyamangalam with 90,000 hectares as core zone is a shot in the arm for conservation of rare flora and fauna besides combating the pressures of poaching as the Sathyamangalam valley is on the State border.
Welcoming the decision of the Union Government, president of Osai (an NGO involved in conservation) K. Kalidasan said that the status will go a long way in getting the required funds and undivided attention.
Mr. Kalidasan pointed out that during 2007, eight to 12 tigers were found in the area. Organisations such as World Wide Fund for Nature, World Wildlife Fund and Wildlife Trust of India confirmed the tiger existence through various studies.
There had been a long-pending demand for turning the reserve forest into a sanctuary and it was declared in 2008 and the plea for declaration of tiger reserve has just materialised.
Sathyamangalam Forest has a unique characteristic of being a habitat for tigers, elephants, blackbucks and hyenas. It is an important connecting centre for Nilgiris Bio-sphere Reserve (NBR) as it connects Nagerhole, Bandipur, Wayanad, Mudumalai,, Mannargad, Silent Valley and Kollegal forest divisions. It has various types of eco-systems such as Moyar riparian eco-system, Savannah type open forests (Talamalai slopes), Open Thorn Forest (Moyar valley), Grassland-Shola eco system (Minjukuli) and semi-evergreen and shola eco-system (Talamalai plateau).
All the three important projects for wildlife conservation in India, the project tiger, project elephant and project crocodile has relevance and applicability to Sathyamangalam tiger reserve.
Vultures and hyenas are the indicators of a healthy forest. This is the unique place in Tamil Nadu where both these species exist in good numbers. All the four species of vultures sighted in South India are recorded in Sathyamangalam Tiger reserve. Mr. Kalidasan pointed out that Sathyamangalam, located in an inter-State border, is posing pressure to this landscape. The creation of a new tiger reserve in Sathyamangalam forest will get more facilities to improve the anti-poaching network.
Sathyamangalam forest division is one of the largest wildlife divisions in Tamil Nadu. Project tiger status will bring in more funds and field staff.
Weeds such as lantana, prosopis juliflora and parthenium are great threats in the entire reserve and more funds should be allocated to remove them.