Can herbivores from Nagarahole be prey for tigers in Kali reserve?

Can scores of chitals, gaurs and deer, currently grazing in the plains of the Nagarahole and Bandipur forests, come to the rescue of the tiger population in Kali Tiger Reserve (KTR)?

This concept, which the forest officials iterated was in the preliminary stages of discussion, seeks to undertake the growth of tiger population by introducing more prey.

In a proposal sent to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in June by the previous Field Director of KTR, officials quote that the herbivore population was “in low densities and is far below the carrying capacity of the habitat”.

The NTCA was asked to give relevant orders to translocate 100 Chitals from Nagarahole and Bandipur to the KTR under the “guidance of professional wildlife experts”.

Among the examples quoted in the Forest Department’s letter are the shifting of 19 gaurs from the Kanha National Park to Bhandhavgarh, both in Madhya Pradesh, in 2011. Similarly, in 2015, 20 barasingha (swamp deer) were shifted from Kanha to Satpura Tiger Reserve.

Y.V. Jhala, Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Wildlife Institute of India, who had been called in to discuss the proposal, said the concept was good and manageable with relocation of small number of herbivores.

“Sambar is an ideal base for Kali. Chital habitat is in very small pockets of valleys in the tiger reserve. If the conservation measures are good and poaching is stopped, then relocation is a good way of increasing prey base density quickly instead of waiting for a decade or so,” he told The Hindu .

However, on the other side of the debate, wildlife activists in the region have expressed concern over the tampering of a natural habitat.

While in July, the NTCA office in New Delhi sought a detailed presentation of the proposal, forest officials said there had not been any action so far. “This is just a proposal. We have not followed it up, and relocation of herbivores will not happen,” said B.J. Hosmath, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), categorically.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 3:57:06 AM |

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