A new tiger reserve proposed in Srivilliputhur

A portion of the Grizzled Giant Squirrel sanctuary in Srivilliputhur.

A portion of the Grizzled Giant Squirrel sanctuary in Srivilliputhur.  

Wildlife officials have submitted a proposal to the State Government to create a new tiger reserve in the existing Grizzled Giant Squirrel sanctuary in Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district.

Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Conservator of Forests, Virudhunagar Circle, says that in the recent population monitoring exercises, tigers were sighted frequently in the sanctuary's middle and upper ridges. In the recently concluded census, participants sighted an adult tigress with two of her cubs in the foothills of Rajapalayam Range of the sanctuary. Apart from this several evidences of movement of tigers were recorded in the recent past in the sanctuary spreading over parts of Madurai, Theni and Tirunelveli territorial divisions, he said.

According to Dr. Niraj, the sanctuary is the meeting place of two distinct geographical regions of biodiversity landscape in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

This is an important landscape for elephant conservation programme for the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, owing to its large contiguous forests and connectivity with adjoining Grizzled Giant Squirrel sanctuary. It is also a habitat for endangered species such as elephant, tiger, leopard, Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed Macaque besides Grizzled Giant Squirrel.

The sanctuary in Srivilliputhur is flanked by Tirunelveli Forest division on the south in the northwest by Theni Forest division, which is part of the Agasthiyar biosphere landscape. Regularly, elephants from the Periyar Tiger Reserve migrate to the Srivilliputhur sanctuary in search of fodder and water and use this area as part of their home range.

The eastern part of the sanctuary fell in the shadow area of the Western Ghats, which received poor rainfall and hence the pachyderm used to concentrate along Deviyar, Periyar and Kovilar dam areas, which are the perennial water sources in the sanctuary, Dr. Niraj says.

Five forest types were found to occur in the sanctuary such as West coast tropical evergreen forest, West coast semi-evergreen forest, dry teak forest, Southern mixed deciduous forest and dry grass land.

Water is an important and critical resource in the forest eco-system and scientific management of this resource is imperative for the sustenance of the wildlife habitats. Many big and small rivers and streams are running through the sanctuary corridor, which provides water in the habitat for vegetation and wildlife, he said.

The entire area earmarked for declaring as a tiger reserve to be called Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve, has great potential to support tiger population sustainably as it is rich in prey base comprising of sambar and Indian Bison, Dr. Niraj adds.

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