International Tiger Day 2018: successes, and the challenges

Seshachalam ready to welcome tigers

The talk of tigers moving into Seshachalam hills has been in the air for quite some time, but it has not happened yet. Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) currently bustles with over 40 big cats. A corridor management plan to connect it with Seshachalam by developing vegetative stretches in Gundla Brahmeswara sanctuary and Lanka Malleswara sanctuary was mooted in 2013, which, however, did not make any headway. It was proposed under this plan to plant bamboos along streams, raising fodder plots and natural grass lands, strengthening base camps and deploying anti-poaching squads, construction of watch towers and maintenance of fire lines.

Seshachalam did have tigers in the past. A tiger was sighted in late 50s at Bhakarapet area, according to official accounts, while unconfirmed sources indicate the last sighting as latest as in 1985-1990 period in Mamandur area. The fragmentation of Seshachalam and Veligonda hill ranges happened with the laying of a railway line between Renigunta and Guntakal by the British, and the development of Tirupati-Kadapa highway a few decades back widened the gulf.

The much-talked about corridor does exist, but for some dry patches that prevent the territorial animal from exploring newer routes. “Last year, we found pug marks similar to those of a tiger in Talakona area. In a bid to confirm the same, we installed twenty camera traps in the vicinity, but no direct evidence has been found to corroborate it”, says B.K. Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Tirupati Wildlife Management Circle. Even as the tiger population was wiped out over a period, Mr. Singh expects the animal to arrive into the territory any time, between two years and a decade.

Migration

While Nallamala has sufficient numbers, outward migration generally happens when the dominant ones force the young ones out or when the adult males stray to areas that have sufficient green cover and prey base. “Migration from NSTR into Lanka Malleswara has already started, where the animal has arrived up to the Somasila backwaters. But for some narrow patches, the corridor is intact”, observes NSTR Conservator of Forest S. Saravanan.

From Somasila, the tiger is expected to move into Seshachalam via Veligonda. Seshachalam is a verdant range of hills with no human habitations except Tirumala. However, there are two dry patches, one near the Somasila project and the other that links Veligonda to Seshachalam. Even if the first is linked and the animal crosses over, the second one is a bit complicated as it is here that the Tirupati-Kadapa railway line and highway pass through, possibly preventing the animal from crossing over towards Tirumala.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:31:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/seshachalam-ready-to-welcome-tigers/article24543173.ece

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