Encroachments in forests and fragmentation of wild habitats caused due to construction of dams, canals and roads is showing a severe impact on conservation efforts in Adilabad, especially in cutting off corridors of tiger migration.
The restlessness being exhibited by the Nilwai tiger, a two-year old juvenile which was recently been spotted in Nilwai Forest Range in this district, has exposed these aspects.
According to conservationists tracking its progress, the tiger has strayed into Nilwai Forest Range via Bejjur forests either from Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) or the Kannergaon Proper Sanctuary in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra because of hurdles in the corridor leading to Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR). It now finds itself locked within a territory, the hostility of which has been accentuated by lack of prey and fragmentation of habitat by irrigation bodies and mining activity towards Bellampally.
“Had there been contiguity in vegetation, the tiger would have crossed into Bellampally forests and continued to Tiryani and thence to KTR,” opines Imran Siddiqui of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society (HYTICOS), who is associated with conservation in the nascent Tiger Reserve here. He says for tigers to migrate to KTR, it is essential that the corridor from TATR be developed into a ‘least cost path’ for the great cats by removing the hurdles be it encroachments or clearings in the forests.
“The surplus lands (after allocation of rights on forest lands under the Forest Rights Act) still under the control of tribal people should be subjected to reforestation by taking the aboriginals into confidence and conducting gram sabhas for the purpose. Reforestation should comprise plantation of trees which give supplemental income through non-timber forest produce,” the conservationist suggests.
The most important of the areas which need to be developed as least cost paths fall between Sirpur (T) and Asifabad mandals.
The encroachments in the Dhanora Reserve Forest towards KTR core area in Jannaram mandal also need to be cleared.
“KTR has bright prospects of attracting tigers from elsewhere owing to the recent increase in prey population. The great cats sighted earlier in Satnala forests near Adilabad (2011) and elsewhere can feel safe once the environment favours their migration to this facility,” Mr. Siddiqui hopes.