In a move that has shocked naturalists, Sholiga tribals living in Mavanatham area in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve have cleared forest bushes and cut trees to expand their agricultural activities.

The clearing activities had taken place in the last few months. Naturalists said the tribals were doing so without obtaining any clearance from Forest officials. They feared that the tribals could have cleared nearly 100 acres of forest cover.

The Supreme Court has prohibited unauthorised clearing of forests. Moreover, it is a violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1982, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and the Forest Rights Act, naturalists charge. The officials have taken some action by imposing a fine of Rs 11,000 on a few tribals and filed cases against five.