M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary to get more anti-poaching camps

M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary is set to be declared a tiger reserve in due course.

M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary is set to be declared a tiger reserve in due course.   | Photo Credit: M.A. SRIRAM


The Forest Department will increase the number of anti-poaching camps at M.M. Hills Wildlife Sanctuary this year to shore up protection in the area.

The 906-sq.km sanctuary with pristine forests has 40 anti-poaching camps at present, but another 15 will be added to strengthen protection, according to Deputy Conservator of Forests V. Yedukondalu.

This is because the sanctuary is set to be declared a tiger reserve in due course and is also a biodiversity hotspot as it is home to others species of animals such as deer and gaur, constituting the prey base for carnivores.

With perennial sources of water and fodder, M.M. Hills abuts the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and the landscape together supports nearly 600 elephants. Researchers like Sanjay Gubbi have also recorded the presence of smaller carnivores such as the jungle cat, rusty spotted cat, common palm civet, small Indian civet, ruddy mongoose, Indian grey mongoose, and smooth-coated otter.

The sanctuary has a sanctioned staff strength of 150, of which nearly 100 posts have been filled. The authorities said efforts would be made to fill the remaining posts for deployment in the anti-poaching camps.

Anti-poaching camps play a critical role in ensuring the increase of density of prey animals such as spotted deer and sambar in the forests, given the relatively high number of poaching incidents reported from the M.M. Hills-Cauvery sanctuary landscape.

These jungles were out of bounds for the Forest Department for nearly two decades when Veerappan was operating in the area. Because of lack of protection over the years, a “culture” of poaching animals — snaring herbivores for domestic meat consumption — developed in the villages surrounding M.M. Hills, and this has had a bearing on the carnivore population.

But once the M.M. Hills forests were declared a protected area and notified as a wildlife sanctuary in 2014, the protection levels were increased. However, the menace of poaching deer for meat is still prevalent. The strengthening of anti-poaching camps will ensure more protection for the prey base, which could in turn help in increasing the carnivore population, officials said.

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Curbs and crackdowns

There are already strict curbs on movement of people inside the forests and a crackdown on poaching for domestic meat consumption. “We have registered more than 30 cases in the past one year, arrested the accused and filed cases against them, all of which will act as a deterrent against poaching in future,” Mr. Yedukondalu said.

The photo-trapping exercise undertaken last year indicated the presence of 13 tigers in M.M. Hills alone, without considering the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and BRT Tiger Reserve which flank the area of two sides. According to experts, with the tiger population in Bandipur and Nagarahole reaching saturation levels, the M.M.-Hills-Cauvery landscape offers hope to absorb increases in tiger numbers in the future.

The sanctuary getting the tiger reserve status is imminent and though the State government has already given its approval, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has sought certain clarifications on the buffer zone. The proposal has be reworked and submitted to it, but it is only a matter of time, said Mr. Yedukondalu.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:30:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mm-hills-wildlife-sanctuary-to-get-more-anti-poaching-camps/article29317243.ece

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