Mysuru, Aug 25 : In order to protect and maintain Tiger population in Karnataka adding Buffer Zones to the Reserves and increasing anti-poaching camps are the immediate measures high on the agenda of the Forest Department in the Nagarahole and Bandipur Tiger Reserves in the State.
Buffer Zone is critical for high-density Tiger Reserves such as Nagarahole and Bandipur where it is said that there is one Tiger for every 6 sq. km as against 12 sq. km elsewhere in the country.
Nagarahole Tiger Reserve Director M K Narayanaswamy said nearly 200 sq. km of reserve forests outside the national park boundary will be added apart from around 330 sq. km of revenue and forest land. Bulk of it is around Hunsur, Veeranahosahalli range and includes Sollepura State forest and Anechowkur, he added.
The buffer zone was notified around seven years ago and the Forest Department will seek the transfer of management from territorial wing to wildlife wing, he said that added that the extent of reserve forest and revenue and forest land will be around 530 sq. km, which will help in better wildlife management.
“There will be no change in the ownership of private land nor will villagers be affected. On the contrary, this will help the local community as there will be better wildlife management and help reduce conflict situations,” Narayanaswamy said.
From the wildlife point of view, the additional swathe of forests will help in absorbing the spill-over population of Tigers and add support to their growing population. Sources in wildlife circles said but for Sollepura reserve forests which was degraded, other portions including Doddaharve State forest (36.07 sq. km), Anechowkur (36.76 sq. km), Muddanahalli State forest (16.81 sq. km), Maukal (33.08 sq. km), and Devmachi (36.96 sq. km) are ideal for wildlife.
Wildlife Biologist Sanjay Gubbi said there are reserve forests, which continue to hold tigers in very low densities and are in need of protection. Districts such as Hassan, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Belagavi have forests outside the protected areas and have high potential to sustain wildlife. “If these areas are provided protection, there is scope for increase in the number of Tiger population and also for younger individuals from areas that have reached ecological carrying capacities to move and establish territories in new areas,” he added.
According to Wildlife activist G Kulkarni said expansion of protected areas is the key to increase tiger numbers and pointed out that a few measures like declaration of MM Hills as tiger reserve, strengthening ground-level protection force and so on would augur well for conservation. “However, unnatural deaths especially owing to poisoning and other reasons was a serious concern. Also, large infrastructure projects have been proposed in tiger habitats and so there remains a challenge to balance conservation and development,” Kulkarni added.(UNI)