Monday, March 30, 2015

#Tigers need their zebra crossings

March 30, 2015 
S. Harpal Singh

Big cats from tiger reserves in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh have strayed into forests in Adilabad, strengthening the case for revival of an uninterrupted tiger corridor

The big cats seem to be making a habit of crossing over to forests in this northern Telangana district from tiger reserves in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. Two more of the beasts have been sighted in Bejjur and Vemanpalli Reserve Forests, making a strong case for the revival of the lengthy tiger corridor here. This so that they may steer clear of these forests and proceed towards the Kawal Tiger Reserve here, where they may have minimal interaction with humans.

Already, one tigress has gone native in the Sirpur forest range, having crossed over last year from the over-populated Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra. It has been caught in camera traps several times and also has a few cattle kills to its credit. “Tigers are being sighted in the vicinity of Pedda Siddapur, Lodepalli, Agarguda and Gundepalli villages located in the Bejjur RF of Kagaznagar Forest Division. We estimate their number to be two,” says Bejjur Forest Range Officer (FRO) M. Ram Mohan, who has been tracking the big cats since last December. “One of the two tigers seems to have come from the TATR while the other which is moving in the corridor between Bejjur and Vemanpalli is likely to have come from the Indravati Tiger Reserve (ITR) in Chhattisgarh.
The latter keeps crossing the borders often, which is why it is difficult to track its movement,” Mr. Ram Mohan adds.

The Bejjur forest unit has put in place a team comprising officials and trackers for monitoring the movements of the ‘new entrants.’ The team is responsible for collecting information on the animals and creating awareness among people on their relation with wild animals. “We also need to control human interference by decreasing their dependence on forests. Supply of LPG to villagers living inside forests is one way of cutting down the dependence on firewood collected from forests,” Sirpur in-charge FRO S. Venugopal suggests.

Walling them up

Meanwhile, forest officials in Bejjur have planned to cultivate a 4-hectare fodder plot inside the jungles to attract a prey base for the straying tigers. “Cattle-kills can be avoided if the prey base is stronger,” Mr. Ram Mohan points out.

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