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Concern over tiger buffer areas

Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 15th November, 2013
Correspondent : C.S. Kotteswaran
Chennai: Wildlife activists in Tamil Nadu have reason to be enthused by the recent report from the National Tiger Conse¬rv¬ation Authority that says that the tiger population in the southern states, particularly the Nilgiri biosphere, has improved, but they are also disappointed with the state forest department for delaying the combining of peripheral reserve areas with the three project tiger reserves in the state.
The previous forest secretary C.V. Shankar pas¬sed a government notification last August under which new buffer areas were declared as critical tiger habitats in the three tiger reserves — Mudu¬malai, Anamalai and Kalakad-Mundan¬thura¬itiger reserves — but though the orders were passed they are yet to be implemented in letter and spirit, said a forest ranger.
“The tiger population in Tamil Nadu is surging, and the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), in particular, continues showing positive results in conservation. So it is high time that peripheral areas like Sigur, Singara and the Nilgiri eastern slope of Thengumaradha section, be added to the MTR as its buffer zone,” said N. Balaji, a regular participant in state wildlife censuses.
A senior forest official said that the annexure of buffer areas was underway. A government order had been passed and was being implemented in a phased manner.
Conservation was the ultimate objective and that would not be compromised; the delay was procedural and may last for only a few more we¬eks, the official said, confident that Tamil Nadu would continue as a wildlife hub for breeding tigers.
Recently, top wildlife officials inspected MTR and stressed the need for conservation, but the need of the hour is more protected areas and less human interface and that can be achieved only by adding more areas supporting the core tiger habitats, explained a biologist associated with a wildlife NGO.
The entire Thengu¬m¬radha section is a connective corridor for MTR and Sathyamangalam fo¬r¬e¬sts and the addition of buffer zones in these ar¬eas would protect wil¬dlife habitat and improve gene mitigation among wild animals, he expl¬ained.