Tiger-rich Wayanad yearns for support

The largest tiger population of Kerala is outside its tiger reserves and in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, which lacks even the basic conservation amenities.

The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is home to 76 tigers against the 136 of Kerala as mentioned in the Status of Tigers in India 2014 report released on Wednesday. As many as 10 tigers found in Wayanad share the habitats of Mudumalai- Bandipur- Nagarhole too.

The Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) has 45 tigers while the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve has 26 big cats, according to its managers.

Wayanad sanctuary brings its own bag of worries even while supporting the maximum number of tigers in the State.

The sanctuary, spread over 344 sq km, receives minimum support from central agencies. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) supports only tiger reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries are outside its purview. The Central annual allocation for the sanctuary is to the tune of around Rs.50 lakh, while the assistance to tiger reserves with lesser extent ran into several crores, said a wildlife official.

Recently, 20 digital cameras had to be borrowed from Parambikulam reserve for setting camera traps in Wayanad for tracking tigers engaged in cattle lifting as the sanctuary does not own any cameras.

Forest officials said that this was one area where the wildlife managers had to deal with human-wildlife conflicts on a regular basis. The sanctuary had the unenviable record of distributing maximum amount as compensation for human-wildlife conflicts.

Last fiscal, Rs.1.02 crore was distributed as compensation from the sanctuary, they said.

An earlier move to notify a tiger reserve in Wayanad had to be shelved in the wake of unprecedented public resistance. The fact that the wildlife sanctuary area alone would be notified as tiger reserve and no new restrictions would be imposed got submerged in protests.

Wayanad had to face such conservation dilemmas, which needed to be addressed, said an official.

According to the national tiger report, the big cat population has nearly doubled in the State during the last four years.

During that time, the big cat population was estimated to be in the range of 67 to 75 in the forests of the State. In 2006, the population was believed to be between 39 and 53.

The report pointed out that the “Mudumalai- Bandipur- Nagarhole- Wayanad complex holds the world's single largest tiger population,” which was currently estimated as over 570 tigers.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 8:47:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/tigerrich-wayanad-yearns-for-support/article6810597.ece

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