All four tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu ranked ‘very good’

All the four tiger reserves in Tamil Nadu have been ranked “very good” in the Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) rating done for all the 50 tiger reserves in India.

The proposal for the fifth tiger reserve, linking Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Theni district with Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Virudhunagar district, is awaiting the government’s approval, officials said.

While the three tiger reserves — Mudumalai (MTR), Anamalai (ATR) and Sathyamangalam (STR) — were already in the 'very good' category, Kalakkad Mundanthurai tiger reserve (KMTR) has also shown improvement and has been upgraded from ‘good’ to ‘very good’, said Sanjay Kumar Srivastava, chief wildlife warden, Tamil Nadu.

“The tigers will grow and multiply provided the habitats, required conditions and protection is there,” said Shekar Kumar Niraj, one of the nodal officers for the MEE. “The challenge is to really sustain and maintain. The key will be buffer zone management,” he said.

Stating that the fifth tiger reserve will improve the tiger numbers in the State significantly, he said the proposed reserve, which has good forests suited for the tigers, will also improve water management.

Environmental activists in Theni and Srivilliputhur districts have for long been demanding the notification of the fifth tiger reserve. “A new one in Meghamalai will improve the catchment of Vaigai river. The government should not delay its creation," said an activist, wishing anonymity.

Status Report

According to the Tiger Status Report released by the Prime Minister, sustained conservation efforts through continued “political will” have resulted in an increase in tiger numbers. While there was sufficient habitat to accommodate increasing tigers in India, much of this habitat required conservation investment so as to recover prey populations.

“Tiger habitat outside protected areas are vital for linking source populations but are extensively used by communities; conservation model that promotes tiger permeability of such habitats while simultaneously securing the livelihoods of local communities is the answer,” the report states.

According to the report, the south western ghats, of which the KMTR is part of, has shown improvement in the fourth cycle. Still, it has listed several weaknesses in every tiger reserve for the authorities to act on. In the KMTR, it has suggested making the core area inviolate and relocation of settlements in critical wildlife habitat through constant persuasion in a time-bound manner. At ATR, it has suggested acquiring private estates in Valparai plateau that are essential to provide vital corridors.

Pat for officers

The STR has bagged the award for highest increment of tigers in the last four years in the country. And the MEE report praises the young team of officers who show a lot of enthusiasm towards conservation.

“Moyar Valley and it's adjacent forests with species such as blackbuck, chowsingha, gaur, elephant, tiger, hyena, Indian giant squirrel and masheer with connectivity with the Upper Nilgiris where there are Nilgiri langur and Nilgiri tahr, is unique in the entire tiger landscape," said A.J.T. Johnsing, former dean of the Wildlife Institute of India. “Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve is part of this great landscape where we should reintroduce chinkara and nilgai,” he emphasises. For the MTR, the MEE report has suggested relocation of villages in three phases on an urgent basis and bring the buffer area under the unified control of the field directorate. It has also suggested the State to consider Mukuruthy National Park as a satellite core of MTR. In all the four tiger reserves, the Centre's report has asked the State government to fill up the vacancies in frontline staff.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 5:05:32 AM |

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