Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, May 15 2012, DHNS:
For stars with stripes
Roars of tigers may soon be heard in the den of notorious forest brigand Veerappan—Sathyamangalam forest—as the Centre has “in-principle” agreed to declare it a tiger reserve.
“We are in the process of establishing more tiger reserves. Based on our 2010 assessment, a new tiger reserve (Kawal Tiger Reserve, Andhra Pradesh) has been constituted. Further, ‘in-principle’ approval has also been accorded to declaring the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu a tiger reserve,” Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said here on Tuesday at a regional stock-taking summit on tiger conservation.
The Sathyamangalam forest was the hideout of Veerappan until he was killed in an encounter in 2004.
This forest is also significant as a wildlife corridor in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats and is a link between four other adjoining areas of Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Sigur Plateau, Mudumalai National Park and Bandipur National Park.
The minister said a national repository of camera trap photo database of tigers is also being set up that would enable linkages with similar repositories in states to keep track of wild tigers.
The Tamil Nadu government, too, stated in the Assembly that it had decided to create the state's fourth tiger reserve in Sathyamangalam on 1,40,924 hectares through a notification. The state has three tiger reserves at Mudumalai, Anaimalai and Kalakad-Mundanthurai.
India's official tiger count now stands at 1706, an increase of 295 tigers from the 2006 tiger estimate. The latest tiger census—based on camera trappings in the night, satellite tracking and prey-base estimates—actually provides a range, suggesting that the total number of tigers in India may vary from 1,571 on the lower side to 1,875 on the upper side.
“The 2010 country-level snapshot assessment of tiger and its habitat has shown an increase of 20 over the 2006 assessment. However, the outcome has highlighted the need for restoring the fringe areas of tiger reserves and connecting forest linkages,” the minister said. Fourteen wild tigers were poached in 2012 whereas 18 died natural deaths.