First fauna survey begins in Krishna sanctuary

A safe home for 15 fishing cats; declared wildlife sanctuary in 1998; 20 camera traps to be installed in strategic grids

November 13, 2017 12:27 am | Updated 08:13 am IST - GULLALAMODA (KRISHNA)

Massive effort  A camera trap installed in the mangrove forest in Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary near Gullalamoda.

Massive effort A camera trap installed in the mangrove forest in Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary near Gullalamoda.

The first status survey of the ‘fauna’ in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWL), one of the rarest eco-regions in the world, has been commenced.

The area in an extent of 194.8 sq. km was declared as wildlife sanctuary in 1998 and since then no survey on the fauna had been carried out. The sanctuary is sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the Krishna river and geographically falls in Krishna and Guntur districts.

The pilot project (2014-16) recorded the presence of a whopping 15 fishing cats. The recent documentation of the smooth-coated otter has highlighted the need for carrying out the survey. By Monday, camera traps were installed in the five strategic wildlife grids each measured in one sq. km. The five grids including Sorlagondi and Gullalamoda are said to be a safe home for the fishing cat, whose call was recorded on Monday by the forest team.

“It is the need of the hour to have an authentic data on the presence of the wildlife to prepare conservation strategies. The six-month status survey is being carried out by installing camera traps in the most strategic 20 wildlife grids,” Assistant Conservator of Forest N. Ramachandra Rao told The Hindu . An exclusive team led by wetland and mangrove researcher A. Appa Rao is engaged in identifying the grids.

“We will proceed with the ‘Fishing Cat census’ once the data captured through the camera traps is examined,” said Mr. Rao. The survey includes geo-tagging of the wildlife, particularly the fishing cat.

“We are recording the pug marks of the fishing cat to establish the evidence of its presence in the grids. Palakayatippa, Sorlagondi and Gullalamoda are the key coordinates or Wildlife Management Areas,” Mr. Appa Rao said.

“The credit for the rise of the fishing cat population goes to the conservation of the mangrove cover. The cover, the habitat of the fishing cat, has been increasing since the early 2000s due to afforestation measures,” he said. The India State of Forest Report-2015 shows that there has been a net increase of 17 sq. km. of mangrove forest cover in Krishna district since 2013.

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