Tamil Nadu

Mudumalai, Anamalai tiger reserves rated 'good'

Tamil Nadu’s Tiger Meter, that is the management effectiveness of tiger reserves, is pretty good.

Looking at 31 headline indicators in 43 tiger reserves in the country over one year, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has evaluated the management of three reserves – Mudumalai, Anamalai and Kalakad-Mundanthurai – to be very good, while Sathyamangalam, the newly formed tiger reserve, is rated ‘good’.

While the three reserves were wildlife sanctuaries for long before becoming tiger reserves, Sathyamangalam (STR) in its first year has been evaluated as ‘good’, say forest officials.

In fact, the entire area was only a Reserve Forest till 2007 when it was declared as a blackbuck sanctuary. “While the conservation practices have been in vogue for long in other tiger reserves, STR administration has driven home the point among the tribals in the reserve and villagers on the fringes that they were participants to the conservation programme,” says K. Kalidas of OSAI a Coimbatore-based NGO involved in conservation.

According to STR officials, the reserve, the biggest in the State sprawling over 1.40 lakh hectares, has about 70 tigers in its varied forests, and home to about 800 elephants, blackbucks, vultures and hyenas among other wildlife.

Meanwhile, the management effectiveness of Kalakad-Mundanthurai tiger reserve (KMTR), which was rated ‘fair’ in 2005-06, has also been rated ‘very good’. But conservation activists have their own doubts.

“Mudumalai and Anamalai reserves are known for their better conservation practices. Unlike them, there are not many NGOs which act as watchdogs at the KMTR,” says an activist. Without the watchdogs, many instances of poaching and tree felling are not reported outside, he notes.

“There is population pressure. Even though tourism has been regulated in recent times, local tourists continue to go deep into the forests without any check,” he says, adding that the Forest department should take over boating in Karaiyar dam, like in Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala.

According to conservationists down south, the number of tigers in KMTR, the oldest in the State, has remained at 20+ for decades. “It was declared a tiger reserve in 1988. If conservation is working, the numbers should have grown by now,” points out another activist. “The low prey base is one of the reasons for the numbers remaining stagnant,” counters a forest official.

Another critical reason the activists say is that the KMTR is isolated and there is a need to create a contiguous landscape between it and Periyar Tiger Reserve connecting Tirunelveli forest division, Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary and Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Theni district. “Only this will enable the tiger numbers to grow in the landscape,” says a Periyar Tiger Reserve forest official.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 10:14:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/mudumalai-anamalai-tiger-reserves-rated-good/article6968851.ece

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